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February 25, 2008

UMBC Joins Two National, Online Learning Faculty Development Networks

On behalf of the UMBC community, the Office of Information Technology has recently joined QualityMatters and the Sloan-Consortium, two national, online learning networks that specialize in faculty development, online training and research-based "best practices." Membership in both organizations is made possible through a partnership with the University System of Maryland (USM).

QualityMatters LogoEstablished in 2003 with a three-year, $500k grant from the Fund for Improvement to Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), QualityMatters is a nationally-recognized initiative by MarylandOnline that focuses on defining and evaluating best practices in quality online or hybrid course design--not instructor delivery.

Last year, OIT staff and selected faculty participated in several USM-sponsored course design and peer reviewer training workshops by QualityMatters, which is now an institutional subscription service supported by more than 100 colleges and universities in 31 states who have voluntarily adopted the QM course design and peer review standards. UMBC's own Alternate Delivery Program also adopted the QM standards as part of the Hybrid Course Design Workshop.

Now that UMBC is an institutional QM member, all faculty may access summary or annotated versions of the the highly regarded rubric (or "check list") of 40 course design characteristics that educational research literature identifies in good online courses. An interactive version of the rubric, as well as a form to request peer review by QM trained reviewers, is also available. Send email to John Fritz at to receive your userid & password for the interactive QM services.

Note: Two Education faculty members, Zane Berge and Greg Williams, are QM certified "peer reviewers," as are Jack Prostko, Director of the Faculty Development Center, and John Fritz and Bob Armstrong from OIT.

Sloan-C LogoKnown for its research-based course design rubric--which takes a lot of the guess work out of developing or evaluating online courses--QM does offer face-to-face and online training workshops, but also frequently partners with the Sloan-Consortium, which specializes in online faculty development in all aspects of online learning.

As 2008 institutional members in Sloan-C's "College Pass" program, UMBC has a total of 100 free "seats" to be used toward any online workshop (including how to use the QM rubric) and 50 additional "seats" in select workshops. UMBC also has ten (10) $50 registration discounts toward Sloan-C's highly regarded Conference on Asynchronous Learning Networks in Orlando, Florida (Nov. 5-7).

For now, OIT will manage the "College Pass" registration codes on a "first come, first served" basis. To receive a Sloan-C "College Pass" code, click here.

EducauseFinally, faculty are reminded that UMBC has also been a member of the Educause Learning Initiative (ELI) since 2006. While ELI does not focus exclusively on online learning, it provides excellent resources, including free webinars on timely topics, a very popular "Seven Things You Should Know About . . ." series, and the annual Horizon Report that looks at new and emerging technologies likely to be adopted in the next one to five years. The Horizon Report is also a partnership with the New Media Consortium, which UMBC also belongs to.

For more information about any of these opportunities, contact John Fritz at or 410.455.6596.


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