Eight years ago I took my first online class from a well established and respected guru of online instruction. The class was asynchronous, and I struggled to the point of frustration with the directions, the format and the process. I made it through, but not before he and I both were frustrated with my inability to navigate what in the instructor’s mind seemed painfully obvious. This of course was the tripping point for both of us. As designers, implementors and instructors of online learning, we cannot assume the receiver of our two-dimensional communication is understanding what we think they ought to be understanding. In other words, intuitive navigation of the learner is grand, but we need to assume that someone out there is not such and we need to build accordingly.
The Quality Matters Rubric, demands attention to the understanding that all of the small details are covered. The learning objectives are clear, the instructional materials are relevant, and the technology does not impede the learning process. The technology should work as the written word does if a good novel is being read. The focus should not be on the words, the sentences or the structure. If the novel is written well, the focus will be on the story. If the focus is on the technology, it is likely that the point of the learning will be lost in transit.
No one wants to spend money on an online course only to discover that frustration with the access and the support inhibits the desire and the will and the confidence to learn and to tackle the course in the first place. The ultimate goal of online learning is to open doors not to reinforce negative ideas about education. Quality Matters set the gold standard for high quality, consistent online building and presentation.