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Quality Matters Five Year Implementation Plan


The following information provides an overview of our five-year implementation plan for Quality Matters (QM). The plan was developed through ideas generated from the various faculty learning communities (FLCs)researching QM. Through their leadership, a QM template was created for Blackboard, considerations about the peer review process were further realized, and the institutional knowledge-base for the rubric increased.


The Quality Matters Five-Year Plan is in response to feedback from faculty in the QM FLC, Summer Instructor Academy 2017, and the QM Blackboard Template Pilot cohort. These faculty have unanimously identified the need for a comprehensive but digestible multi-year plan to introduce Quality Matters to the wider Forsyth Tech teaching community (both full-time and part-time faculty) and to provide ongoing professional development that supports and promotes the adoption of the QM Rubric to online, hybrid and face-to-face classes. The CTL assumes responsibility for spearheading the QM Five-Year Plan as well as for providing PD and workshops that align with the QM Rubric 8 General Standards.

More importantly, we feel that the plan is needed to support and reinforce larger institutional goals related to online student retention and engagement, instructor training in education best practices, effective program review, creation of strong student learning outcomes, and faculty rank.


We will treat the academic year beginning this Fall (2018) as the “soft launch” of the QM Plan. This will effectively be “Year Zero.” The purpose of a Year Zero is to communicate as early as possible the forthcoming expectations for faculty to use Blackboard appropriately (the 5 mandatory Blackboard requirements) and to introduce/launch the Online Instructor Certification. It will also allow us to introduce the forthcoming QM Five-Year Plan.

The first year of the QM Five-Year Plan will begin in Fall of 2019 to coincide with the release of the new QM Blackboard Template. This template will replace the current default Blackboard shell across the college. The QM Blackboard Template is currently being piloted by a cohort of approximately 40 faculty, and data is being collected on its usability from both instructor and learner perspectives. This data will guide final revisions to the template, which will appear as the new mandated Blackboard shell starting Fall 2019.

In addition to the launch of the new Blackboard Shell in Fall 2019, Year One of the QM Plan will be “Awareness.” Year Two will be “Course Learning Objectives and Outcomes.” Year Three will be “Assessment.” Year Four will be “Learner Engagement” and Year Five will be “Course Technology and Learner Support.” Please see below for more information on the rationale of each year’s objectives and their alignment to the 8 General Standards of the QM Rubric.


Overview of the Implementation Plan

Year Zero (FA 2018-SP 2019): Introduce QM Implementation Plan, Blackboard Requirements, and Online Instructor Certification

  • Communicate forthcoming QM Implementation Plan to faculty (effective Fall 2019)
  • Emphasize and provide training on the Mandatory Blackboard Requirements
  • Launch Online Instructor Certification course


Year One (FA 2019-SP 2029): QM Rubric Awareness

  • Promote and encourage participation in the APPQMR Workshop (QM G.S. 1-8)
  • Launch new QM compliant Blackboard shell for all courses
  • Provide training for new Blackboard shell with emphasis on “Start Here” section (QM G.S. 1)

Year Two (FA 2020-SP 2021): Course Learning Objectives and Outcomes

  • Provide workshops/training on writing and revising course specific learning outcomes so that they are specific and measurable (QM G.S. 2)
  • Continue working with Institutional Research and Development to embed Institutional Student Learning Outcomes in Blackboard


Year Three (FA 2021-SP 2022): Assessment

  • Training on formative and summative assessment techniques (QM G.S. 3)
  • Workshops on how to make assessments more engaging through tools such as Collaborate, etc. (QM G.S. 3)
  • Use Blackboard analytics to reflect on student assessment data


Year Four (FA 2022-SP 2023): Learner Engagement

  • Focus on increasing instructor-learner and learner-learner interaction in online and hybrid courses (QM G.S. 5)
  • Provide training for better learner engagement through interactive online assignments beyond traditional discussion boards, etc. (QM G.S. 5)


Year Five (FA 2023-SP 2024): Course Technology and Learner Support

  • Train faculty in the use of online/digital course tools and technology such as Collaborate, Ally, etc. (QM G.S. 6-7)
  • Emphasize importance of the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) approach to course design and compliance with ADA standards for online courses (QM G.S. 8)


How the QM Five -Year Plan Supports and Aligns with Institutional Goals

Implementation Details

Year “Zero”: Introduce QM Implementation Plan, Blackboard Requirements, and Online Instructor Certification (Academic Year 2018-2019)

We will introduce the QM Plan to faculty, emphasizing its importance and providing an overview of the schedule. This Fall is also the ideal time to launch the Online Instructor Certification course and to continue training on the mandatory Blackboard requirements. The Blackboard requirements are consistent with the Quality Matters Rubric and form a foundation for future discussions of the QM General Standards. Furthermore, Year “Zero” will allow us to demonstrate to faculty and administration how Quality Matters intersects with larger college goals and initiatives, such as institutional student learning outcomes, faculty rank, and program review.


Year One: QM Rubric Awareness (Academic Year 2019-2020)

The focus of the first year of the QM Plan will be to continue introducing Quality Matters and the QM Rubric to the college. This will take significant support and buy-in from academic departments and administration, as well as promotion of Quality Matters across FT campuses. The CTL will host regular sessions for the Applying the Quality Matters Rubric workshop (APPQMR). This is the foundational workshop for QM, and participants who take the workshop receive a national certification in QM and broader knowledge and understanding of the Rubric and how to use it in their classes. Currently there are five certified face-to-face facilitators and five online facilitators at Forsyth Tech. This means that we can offer the APPQMR in both online and face-to-face formats. Although we understand that we may not be able to mandate the APPQMR, we can and will promote it as the best way to become aware of QM.

In addition to the APPQMR, we will also host shorter workshops that promote the central tenants of the QM Rubric while avoiding copyright infringement. More specifically, these workshops will be designed in such a way to help faculty adjust to the new QM Blackboard Shell and its features, particularly the “Start Here” feature. The “Start Here” area of the Bb Shell was designed to comply with General Standard 1 of the QM Rubric. We will continue to promote this in conjunction with the Online Instructor Certification and for those faculty applying for faculty rank.


Year Two: Course Learning Objectives and Outcomes (Academic Year 2020-2021)

Year Two will center on Learning Objectives and Outcomes, which aligns with QM General Standard 2. CTL sponsored workshops will focus on writing specific and measurable course and module/unit-level learning objectives using Bloom’s Taxonomy. Furthermore, we will partner with Institutional Research and Development to ensure that our offerings coincide with their efforts at improving student learning outcomes.


Year Three: Assessment (Academic Year 2021-2022)

Year Three will be devoted to Assessment, which is in alignment with QM General Standard 3. CTL workshops will address the difference between formative and summative assessments as well as how to make assessments that are more engaging and better aligned to course learning outcomes. This is also an opportunity for us to use Blackboard analytics to looks at assessment data and see how our assessments are aligning to our stated student learning outcomes.


Year Four: Learner Engagement (Academic Year 2022-2023)

Year Four is all about Learner Engagement, which supports both General Standards 4 and 5 of the QM Rubric (Instructional Materials and Course Activities/Learner Interaction). The primary focus of this year of the plan is to increase instructor-learner and learner-learner interaction in online and hybrid courses. This is essential to closing the achievement gap between our online and face-to-face courses. Students need to be more engaged with their instructors and with one another in online course formats, and PD will be provided that helps instructors accomplish this.


Year Five: Course Technology and Learner Support (Academic Year 2023-2024)

Year Five (Course Technology and Learner Support) will effectively address General Standards 6, 7 and 8 of the Rubric. The CTL will emphasize the integrated use of online/digital course tools and technology to promote learning while partnering with support departments across campus such as the library, career services, etc. The final year of the plan will also dovetail with the efforts of the Technology Accessibility committee. Many of the principles of the QM Rubric in GS 6 and 7 require simultaneous knowledge and engagement with GS 8, which is about offering course materials in accessible formats. This means we will also continue to promote and provide support training on Blackboard Ally.


Ongoing Support/Points of Entry

Although the CTL will promote and provide programming support that coincides with each year’s particular objective, we will continue to provide workshops, etc. on prior years’ objectives on a continual and recurring basis. This is to support new faculty that enter the Forsyth Tech teaching community at any given time during the QM Five-Year Plan project. Furthermore, the outline of the plan does not mean that programming connected to another of the General Standards of the Rubric will not be emphasized or offered. For example, Blackboard Collaborate and Ally are best suited to QM General Standards 5 and 8 respectively, but we will offer sessions of those on a continual basis.