Rowan-Cabarrus achieves Quality Matters certification

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 7, 2013

Rowan-Cabarrus Community College recently became one of only four colleges in the country to achieve Quality Matters certification for an instructor training course.
Quality Matters (QM) is a leader in quality assurance for online education and has received national recognition for its peer-based approach to continuous improvement in online education and student learning.
“Our growing online programs and courses are high quality. We’ve worked hard to step up our game in the distance education arena,” said Dr. Carol S. Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus. “Our menu of online courses allows students to participate in learning outside of the traditional classroom. Our goal is to provide students greater flexibility in scheduling classes while providing Rowan-Cabarrus faculty with new and innovative approaches to teaching.”
In 2000, Rowan-Cabarrus became one of the first community colleges in the state to establish formal and required training for faculty. Rowan-Cabarrus instructors are required to take an internally developed online instructor training course prior to teaching any online courses for the college. Even instructors who have taught online courses for other colleges and universities must complete this training.
“The training not only shows them how to use and teach within Blackboard, but also covers the pedagogy and best practices of how to teach online,” said Debra NeeSmith, dean of educational resource services.
Instructors who go through the course apply what they learn in the course immediately — they build their online course as they go through the training.
“Our goal is to help instructors create a more robust and interactive learning experience for our students,” said NeeSmith.
Online learning is a different medium — one that requires instructors to think differently about the way they teach their courses. The 25-hour course has received 100 percent in the Quality Matters certification process. Among instructor training classes, only four colleges in the country are Quality Matters certified and Rowan-Cabarrus is only the second community college in the country to achieve this distinction.
“Colleges need to receive at least an 85 percent in order to be granted the certification — we are honored to have achieved 100 percent on the Quality Matter rubric,” said NeeSmith.
Online learning options have become more popular as students become more technically savvy. Likewise, Rowan-Cabarrus faculty have embraced technology in the development and delivery of courses across multiple disciplines.
“Rowan-Cabarrus Community College is committed to excellence for our teachers and our students. We believe in making education accessible to everyone and our online programs are a big part of that initiative,” said Dr. Rod Townley, vice president of the college’s academic programs. “We are extremely proud of our instructional team at the college.”
The college now offers 14 degrees completely online: Associate in Arts; Associate in Arts Pre-Major – business administration, accounting, economics, finance & marketing; Associate in Arts Pre-Major – business education & marketing education; Associate in Arts Pre-Major – criminal justice; Associate in Arts Pre-Major – history; Associate in Arts Pre-Major – political science; Associate in Arts Pre-Major – social science secondary education; Associate in Arts Pre-Major – sociology; Associate in General Education; Associate in Applied Science – office administration; Associate in Applied Science – accounting; Associate in Applied Science – business administration; Associate in Applied Science – business; Administration – Marketing & Retailing; Associate in Applied Science – web technologies.
Additionally, 11 diplomas and 22 certificates can be completed entirely online.
“Obviously, some degrees are not conducive to becoming entirely online. Where it is possible, however, we are seeking to provide these opportunities,” said NeeSmith.
This semester, the college is offering the largest number of online classes to date, running more than 250 classes online. Thirty-seven percent of Rowan-Cabarrus students are taking a class online this semester.
The Quality Matters (QM) program is a national benchmark for online course design. The QM process is a collegial, faculty-driven, research-based peer review process based on a rubric consisting of eight general standards and 40 specific standards that are nationally recognized as reflecting a shared understanding of quality in online and hybrid course design.
Institutions of higher education throughout the United States and internationally have subscribed to the Quality Matters rubric and services in an effort to assure quality and continuous improvement in their online education offerings.
All Rowan-Cabarrus courses use Blackboard and the college is moving toward more hybrid courses to give students interactive and convenient learning opportunities.

For more information about Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, please visit or call 704-216-RCCC (7222).