Quality Matters at NIU

To promote excellence in online teaching and learning, in 2014 NIU joined more than 1300 institutions who subscribe to Quality MattersTM (QM). Through professional development and a voluntary course review and certification process, QM will help us ensure that our online courses are high quality and support our students' success.

Quality Standards

The QM rubric is based on a synthesis of the extensive and growing body of research on online learning. The rubric is made up of 42 specific review standards for quality online course design. QM is a continuous and collaborative improvement process that recognizes that courses meeting the standards still have room for continuing improvement and courses that do not meet standards initially will receive useful feedback to guide revision.

The QM standards focus on course design, not content, and include recommendations for learning objectives, assessments, activities, technology, and accessibility, usability, learner support, and the initial student experience, among others. 

You can review the standards on the 6th edition of the rubric (PDF), although this version does not include the annotations. Request a copy of the full rubric by contacting us at citl@niu.edu.


Course Design Essentials

These standards are used to design online and hybrid courses and assess online course quality at NIU.

View Online Course Essentials


Course Design Checklists

These checklists provide practical suggestions to follow in designing and developing quality online courses at NIU.

View Online Course Checklists


Online Teaching Principles

These research-based principles and practices guide effective facilitation of online and hybrid courses at NIU.

View Online Teaching Principles


Professional Development for Online Course Quality

Faculty interested in learning more about the Quality MattersTM rubric and/or becoming a peer reviewer are invited to attend the online workshops in the Quality Online Course Series offered by the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. The online workshops will also be recorded and made available after the event as an archive. Faculty who want to engage more deeply with the Peer Review Process are encouraged to attend the day-long Applying the Quality Matters Rubric (APPQMR) workshops which are offered in-person at NIU several times throughout the year, followed by the online Peer Reviewer Course (PRC) offered online by Quality MattersTM.

Course Review and Certification

Course review and certification is voluntary, but encouraged. As a first step, faculty can request an informal review of their online course and consult with one of our staff on incorporating the standards into their online course. This is done automatically for all courses supported by an Instructional Designer.  

Once a course has been internally reviewed and recognized for being high-quality, it can be submitted for an official Quality MattersTM review. An official QM review requires a formal review team and includes an external peer reviewer. Courses that meet these standards can be called QM Certified, display a QM Certification logo, and are included on the Quality Matters’ national list of officially recognized courses.

Contact Us

Center for Innovative
Teaching and Learning

Phone: 815-797-2477
Email: citl@niu.edu

Back to top