Improved Outcomes on Quality Matters Certified Courses

The OLITS team here at USFSP has been working with faculty to implement the Quality Matters (QM) rubric for their online courses for over 5 years now. This commitment to quality by our faculty has resulted in a number of achievements since then.

  • 16 courses have been QM certified
  • 4 additional courses are currently in peer review with another 11 in queue to be reviewed
  • 12 faculty are certified peer reviewers and have participated in 16 national peer reviews for courses outside the USFSP catalog
  • 4 OLITS staff are certified QM facilitators for both online and face-to-face workshops

These are fantastic results, but how does the QM rubric help improve outcomes once a course is certified? This year, Florida International University (FIU) recently published a report which outlined the benefits of QM certification on their campus. FIU compared a number of measureable outcomes from 29 QM certified courses with 664 that had not been QM certified. There were significant differences across several important metrics. For example, the number of student interactions increased by 16%, student submissions increased by 19%, and the overall amount of course access by students increased by 10%.

OLITS and the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) are looking forward to developing our own report in the future to help all of us understand how to improve the quality of education our students receive here at USFSP. We encourage you to read the full report from FIU and the associated interview with the investigators linked below.

For more information on how you can learn about the QM rubric, QM course certifications, and QM professional development workshops, contact Otis Wilder.

FIU – The Benefits of Quality Matters Certification: What the Analytics Reveal

Higher Retention and Better Student Success? Yes Please.

In Higher Ed we are constantly trying to find ways to help students be successful while also trying to increase enrollment and retention. With budget and time constraints it can be difficult for universities and professors to achieve these goals. Universities are trying to tackle these problems with what may seem like unconventional approaches.

Successful Students

Successful and Happy Students

An article from Inside Higher Ed chronicles the efforts at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro to break the “Iron Triangle”.  The triangle they are referring to is the balance of quality, cost, and access. It often seems that one of the three parts of the triangle has to be sacrificed. UNC Greensboro is challenging that assertion with a project they have been running the past two years called CRAFT.


CRAFT is short for create and curate Content, Replace lectures with Active, and Flipped, Team-based learning. Specifically the project focused on general education courses and courses with high rates of students withdrawing or receiving low marks. They have had positive results and found that this format allows for more students to be enrolled in the class as well.


This type of strategy certainly seems like it could help bring quality, cost, and access together without the need for one of them to sacrificed. This is Higher Ed, however, and nothing is quite as simple as it sounds. Developing these courses takes a lot of time and support. It would be asking a lot of a professor to use the CRAFT method on their own.


The bigger message of this article, however, is that you can serve more students, retain more students, and help lower achieving students be more successful with a focus on active learning. When students are actively involved in the learning process they are more likely to be successful. There is research to back this up as a report from the National Academy of Science shows. They examined 225 studies and found that 3500 more students would have passed if active learning was used in those courses. That is certainly compelling data.


It can seem daunting when considering how to start or increase active learning in your courses. The good news is that here at USFSP, OLITS is here to help. We offer trainings on active learning and can help you add active learning to your courses. Check the OLITS Professional Development website to see when upcoming trainings are available or schedule an on-demand training with us. If you want to learn more about active learning, check out this blog post by our very own Otis Wilder.


Online Proctoring is Available for all USFSP courses

As online education becomes more of the norm in Higher Ed, the ability to offer proctored online exams is something professors want and need. At the University of South Florida St. Petersburg we have access to Proctorio, an online proctoring service. Proctorio is integrated with Canvas so it is very easy to add proctoring services to exams in Canvas.


Proctorio is a remote proctoring software that works exclusively with the Chrome browser. As the students take a test their behaviors are recorded and run through a program that monitors up to 20 behaviors. These behaviors include eye movement, sound, and web activity. No humans are watching the footage while the test is being recorded but faculty can review the footage after the test. They also receive a report that helps them decide if footage needs to be reviewed.


Students will need to have a computer that has a camera, microphone, and the Chrome web browser. They will also need their student ID and a quiet place to take the exam. The USFSP library has computers that have the necessary requirements. There are 24 lab computers upstairs, 20 laptops, and 10 desktops on the 1st floor of the library that are Proctorio ready. Students just need to come to the front desk to reserve one. These computers are reserved on a first come, first serve basis so students should plan to arrive well before their exam period.


Professors should use Proctorio as a cheating deterrent. There is no way to completely stop cheating but Proctorio certainly raises the bar for test security and it is available for all USFSP courses, even face-to-face offerings.
There are a few ways you can learn more about proctorio. A great first step is to check out this FAQ from USF. If you decide you want to use Proctorio in your course then please come to an OLITS training, here is a schedule of upcoming trainings. If you miss the Proctorio training just contact OLITS and we can get you set up with an on demand training.

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Available This Fall

Starting this Fall, the USF System is making Blackboard Collaborate Ultra available for use in all courses in Canvas.

What is Blackboard Collaborate Ultra? Ultra is a virtual classroom tool that allows you to host synchronous web meetings with your students online. It is similar to Google Hangout, Skype, and our current tool, Blackboard Collaborate. Ultra allows you to use video, audio, chat, polling and screen sharing to interact with your students.

One of the key differences from the original Collaborate is that Ultra is a web-based platform that will not require students to download and launch any programs or meeting files to join the session. This new method can save a lot of time and frustration for both instructors and students. It also boasts a more user friendly interface with intuitive design that makes it easy to interact.

collaborate session demos

Collaborate Ultra. Source:

The one feature that is not present in Ultra, but will remain a part of the original Collaborate, is the use of breakout rooms. If you tend to use your synchronous sessions for collaborative work among smaller groups, you may wish to stick with the original version of Collaborate.

To learn more about the Ultra experience, watch this video.

To learn more about using Ultra within your course, check out these resources from USF Health and Blackboard or contact Online Learning and Instructional Technology Services.

Adding Ultra to A Canvas Course PDF

Creating an Ultra Session in Canvas PDF

Using Ultra as a Moderator PDF

Getting Started Guide for Students


Quality Matters Recognizes Dr. Judithanne Scourfield McLauchlan

ja headshotOnline Learning and Instructional Technology Services is thrilled to announce that Dr. Judithanne Scourfield McLauchlan has received Quality Matters certification for her online course, American National Government (POS 2041). Through the faculty based peer-review process, her course has been found to meet the highest national standards for online course quality and design. Congratulations Dr. Scourfield McLauchlan!

Quality Matters (QM) is a nationally recognized program that examines course design to assess the quality and alignment of an online course through a peer-review process using a rubric of evidence-based practices. The eight general standards of the rubric include; Course Overview & Introduction, Learning Objectives, Instructional Materials, Learner Support, Accessibility& Usability, Course Activities & Learner Interaction and Engagement, and Assessment & Measurement.

Please join us in congratulating her on this significant achievement!

Contact Online Learning and Instructional Technology Services for more information about Quality Matters.