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Congratulations, Dr. Penelope Schmidt on your QM Certification

by Kathy Sundin on July 29, 2013 in Quality Matters

Penelope Schmidt

Dr. Penelope Schmidt was recently honored with attaining the Quality Matters (QM) certification for a Political Science course – POLS 4860.  QM provides an opportunity for faculty to be part of a review process which gives feedback and recommendations for course design improvements to meet quality expectations based on National Standards.  It allows for the continuous improvement of online and hybrid courses and provides certification of quality course design. This is truly an outstanding achievement by Dr. Schmidt and displays her commitment to her learners.

The Center for eLearning interviewed Dr. Schmidt recently about her accomplishment and her thoughts on online learning.  Below are excerpts from the interview.

Would you please talk a bit about your position at VSU and how long you have been here?
I started at VSU as a graduate teaching assistant in 2010 and upon earning my Doctor of Public Administration degree in 2011, I began as an adjunct instructor.  I teach undergraduate political science courses within the Organizational Leadership major such as Nonprofit Management, Introduction to Public Administration, and Public Relations in the Public Sector.  I also teach graduate courses within the Public Administration major such as Quantitative Methods, Public Sector Planning, Policy Analysis, and Grant Writing and Management.

Why did you seek out QM certification?
When I began teaching under the leadership of Dr. Jerry Merwin, he introduced me to the Quality Matters (QM) standards.  Those standards provide guidance on designing high quality online courses, which is very important for students’ academic success, so I incorporated the standards into the course designs.  Others also contributed to the designs and that team approach helped maintain a consistent level of quality across the courses.  When Dr. Merwin asked me to participate in the QM certification review of one of the courses, I gladly agreed because of the value it would bring to the students and university.

Can you talk a bit about the review process you went through?
The review process was very organized, took place at days and times that worked best for everyone involved, and took approximately four weeks to complete.  It was a straightforward process and was very helpful to have the review team provide feedback on the quality of the design.

The first step in the process for faculty was to answer a set of approximately 25 questions related to course design in a “Faculty Developer Worksheet” and this was the most time-consuming portion for the faculty role. This was provided to the reviewers via an online portal and they were given access to the course materials on our learning management system.  A Quality Matters Certified Master Reviewer who served as Team Chair arranged a conference call to include include two additional reviewers so that could answer any questions they had about the course.  They handled the review independently afterwards.  Soon thereafter, they notified us that the course met the QM standards. Within the one month process, we reviewed the course, obtained valuable feedback, and had a course certified as meeting the national QM standards. It was well worth the effort!

What does QM certification mean to you?
This certification means a lot to me because of what it means to students and VSU.  The QM certification indicates students will be able to take an online course that adheres to rigorous design standards.  That gives students a high-quality course design which, along with relevant content, ensures that they receive a valuable education to help them be more successful in their chosen careers. This certification is evidence of the commitment by VSU to provide excellence in instruction beyond the traditional classroom and into the online learning environment.

What is your vision for online learning at VSU?
By embracing the online approach to teaching and learning in collaboration with other colleges and universities, and seeking QM certifications for all courses, VSU will be a leader in providing a quality online university education and will be recognized nationally and internationally as an option for high-quality educational programs. This will be possible through the support of the eLearning staff who will offer comprehensive training to faculty on technological innovations to promote academic excellence, student engagement, and student success. As a result, high school students, two-year college students, working adults, and many others from locations across the world will have the opportunity to pursue a high-quality SACS-accredited online bachelors, masters, or doctoral degree. 

Thank you for a great interview, Dr. Schmidt and again, congratulations on your outstanding accomplishment!


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