Quality above and beyond the rest; Riverland recognizes 50 Quality Matters online courses

Director of Instructional Technology and Intellectual Property J.C. Turner speaks during the program recognizing Riverland Community College for reaching 50 online courses that are Quality Matters certified. Jenae Hackensmith/jenae.hackensmith@austindailyherald.com

Director of Instructional Technology and Intellectual Property J.C. Turner speaks during the program recognizing Riverland Community College for reaching 50 online courses that are Quality Matters certified. Jenae Hackensmith/jenae.hackensmith@austindailyherald.com

Riverland Community College is on top when it comes to quality online courses it offers students.

Riverland reached 50 Quality Matters certified online courses this week, which is above any other college or university within the Minnesota State College and University system. Quality Matters is an organization that lets an online course be reviewed by peers to give the instructor feedback to make it better for students.

Beth McMahon from Minnesota Online Quality Initiative speaks during the program recognizing Riverland Community College for reaching 50 online courses that are Quality Matters certified. Jenae Hackensmith/jenae.hackensmith@austindailyherald.com

Beth McMahon from Minnesota Online Quality Initiative speaks during the program recognizing Riverland Community College for reaching 50 online courses that are Quality Matters certified. Jenae Hackensmith/jenae.hackensmith@austindailyherald.com

“According to the national Quality Matters organization, it puts Riverland in the top 2 percent,” Director of Instructional Technology and Intellectual Property at Riverland and Quality Matters Coordinator J.C. Turner said at a celebration in the Riverland Austin campus library Friday afternoon.

According to Turner, there are 11 more courses under review, faculty is working to get more courses certified, and some faculty will attend a workshop next week to learn more about getting their courses certified. The first two courses to go through Quality Matter certification were in 2009.

From there, it just kept growing.

“It’s something that we expect will continue to grow here at Riverland,” Turner said. “This is a great milestone.”

Riverland President Adenuga Atewologun was also excited to hit this milestone.

“This achievement places Riverland on the forefront of the Quality Matters movement — among public institutions of higher education in Minnesota — and demonstrates Riverland’s commitment to providing a high quality educational experience to its students,” Atewologun said during his speech.

Turner said Quality Matters research has shown courses that apply the standards they hold have greater satisfaction among students and student performance is better. There are about 350 online courses at Riverland, and Turner said one day he hopes they are all Quality Matters certified. The certifications last for five years, and then must be re-certified. Two courses have been re-certified, including one of teacher Heidi Schara’s.

“The very first course that I put through QM was my hybrid interpersonal communications class,” Schara said.

This was also the first class to be put through the Quality Matters certification process. Schara, who has four Quality Matters-certified courses, was surprised to find there were more suggestions for her course than she thought.

“The recognition is really positive, but what’s even more positive is the feedback that I got back from students the following semester who went through that course since it had been reviewed,” she said.

Overall, she was happy for the feedback and excited to put it into practice.

“I think that having peers review my course really helped ensure it was the best navigation for my students, and I think it helped them be even more successful,” Schara said.

The courses represented vary from biology to accounting, business, philosophy, humanities, English, math, anthropology, supervisory management and more. Turner hopes to add more courses to the list. Atewologun said an investment in the process and a commitment by faculty have provided Riverland a “best in class” example in the online education for the state.

“From my heart, from the administration team, and from all the students that you touched with your Quality Matters courses, we do say thank you,” Atewologun said.

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