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Episode #105. Saturday May 7, 2022, 5:30 pm Eastern

COVID appeared, a pandemic arose, the world was impacted, and education delivery for the majority of the world pivoted to online environments – a place where Quality Matters (QM) has worked for the last 15 years to improve the quality of online education and student learning. What are the changes we have noticed, the challenges, and opportunities, globally, for both HE and K-12 education to improve and ensure quality in digital education? Also, according to a November 2020 study by the World Economic Forum, only 29% of adults globally expect higher education to be delivered primarily in-person, while around half 49% foresee a split between online and in-person, and 23% expect it to be primarily online. Apparently, our educational lives are undergoing a dramatic shift or transformation. Naturally, in response, educators, parents, politicians, and students yearn for any news about the quality of these “new” online and blended environments. Attend this session and hear sage advice for how institutions and organizations (and individuals too) can improve the quality of online and blended learning.

More about the organization and our guests below the video.

Basic Information about QM:

QM’s version of an annual report for 2021 – our Community in Review

  • An international non-profit organization providing a scalable quality assurance system for digital learning.
  • Over 1,500 member institutions across education sectors in more than 30 countries.
  • QM’s tools and training support education professionals in improving digital education and meeting QM’s internationally-recognized standards.
  •  QM provides certifications for quality in online course design and for 4 quality dimensions for online programs. It also provides training in online teaching and online course design and review as well as tools to manage review of online courses.
  • QM conducts and curates relevant research on online education and quality issues, with a searchable research library, research tool kits and curated compendiums.  QM hosts research-focused webinars and virtual conferences and publishes white papers on key topics (e.g. Academic Rigor, Accessibility, and Course Design Considerations for Inclusion and Representation). The Changing Landscape of Online Education (CHLOE)  is an annual survey conducted by QM and Eduventures.  Analysis and writing of the CHLOE 7 report is currently underway.
  • Our current focus is on model development and support for the kind of organizational change required to develop and assure quality digital learning, creating a culture of quality, through attention to the people, communication structures, policies, resources, processes, and evaluation.
  • A few current highlights about QM’s engagement in our community:
    • Engaging with accreditors (MSCHE) to clearly align member QA activities to accreditation standards and with national compliance bodies (e.g. NC-SARA) to advance quality expectations
    • QM professional development credentials (Teaching Online Certificate, Master Reviewer Certification) yield PLA awards (graduate credit awards at certain institutions)
    • Engagement in K-12 on the  The National Standards for Quality Online Courses, Online Teaching and Online Programs. Development and oversight of the National Standards for Quality Online Learning has transitioned from iNACOL to the Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance (VLLA), Quality Matters (QM), and the Digital Learning Collaborative (DLC).
    • Engaging in discussions about quality in course sharing (QM was originally developed by MarylandOnline with a FIPSE grant as an inter-institutional process for QA for this express purpose – so we have come full circle as academic course sharing is growing)
    • Engagement with the global community on digital learning topics – through participation and leadership in ICDE and INQAAHE, through national advisory bodies, and through engagement with Higher Education institutions and focused events.


Yaping Gao, EDD, Senior Academic Director, Member Services & Partnerships

With a doctoral degree in curriculum and instruction and a concentration on instructional design and educational technology, Dr. Yaping Gao has over 25 years’ experience in higher education both in China and in USA as faculty, instructional designer, LMS administrator, and online education administrator. Dr. Gao believes quality course and program design supported by research facilitates effective instruction, promotes student engagement and active learning, and lays the foundation for student success and institutional advancement. In her current position as Senior Academic Director of Quality Matters, USA, Dr. Gao oversees and leads member services and partnerships with a focus on international outreach and initiatives. Dr. Gao earned her doctoral degree from Baylor University, Texas, USA, and her Master and Bachelor degrees from Shanghai International Studies University, Shanghai, China. She can be contacted at

Bethany Simunich, Ph.D., Director of Research & Innovation

Dr. Bethany Simunich is the Director of Research and Innovation at Quality Matters (QM), an educational non-profit dedicated to quality online learning at all levels of education. In this role, Dr. Simunich leads efforts to help institutions, faculty, and staff make data-driven, research-based decisions to implement online quality assurance and promote online student success. Dr. Simunich has worked in higher education for over 20 years, focusing on online learning for a majority of that time, including as an online instructor, instructional designer, and distance learning administrator and researcher. Dr. Simunich earned her doctoral degree from The Ohio State University and two Master’s degrees from the University of Pittsburgh. She can be contacted at

Christine Voelker, K-12 Program Director

Christine Voelker is the K-12 Program Director for Quality Matters, a global non-profit dedicated to quality assurance in online and innovative digital teaching and learning environments. QM provides a scalable quality assurance system for online and blended learning used within and across organizations grounded in research and driven by best practices.  She has been involved with K-12 education for over 20 years, with an emphasis on distance learning, library media, instructional technology and professional development.  Prior to coming to Quality Matters, Christine was an Educational Technology Teacher Specialist. As such, she developed and coordinated the first student online learning program in her district. As the project manager for the National Standards for Quality Online Courses, Programs, and Teaching, she oversees all aspects of the initiative. Christine has an advanced certificate in Administration and Supervision from Notre Dame of Maryland University, a Masters in Library and Information Sciences, and a B.A. in both History and Social Sciences Interdisciplinary: Early Childhood Education, from the University of Buffalo. She can be contacted at