FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 5, 2019
CONTACT: Cindy Hamblin, Director
Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance
The broad-based effort to create updated, flexible standards reflecting current best practices that contribute to student success provides a new foundation to build quality online learning experiences for K-12 students.
A decade after the release of the National Standards for Quality Online Programs, the standards, along with the National Standards for Online Teaching, were updated to provide online K-12 schools, districts and programs with a new foundation for building quality online learning experiences.
The effort was led by Quality Matters (QM) and the Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance (VLLA), who joined forces to continue the important work that iNACOL began. “The National Standards for Quality Online Courses and Online Teaching Standards, built on the research and work on online course and teaching quality standards published originally by the Southern Regional Education Board, were researched, tested and published nationally by iNACOL beginning in 2006, and have stood as a benchmark for quality online learning for more than ten years,” said Bruce Friend, iNACOL’s Chief Operating Officer. “With the thoughtful and skillful stewardship of QM and VLLA, we are confident that the standards will continue to be a vital asset for the K-12 online community.”
“Quality Matters is committed to partnering with like-minded organizations to continue to develop resources and tools that extend beyond course design,” shared Dr. Deb Adair, Quality Matters Executive Director. “Partnering with the VLLA to revise these standards allowed us to build on critical competencies to extend our quality assurance work, and provided another way to support the K-12 community and its work to ensure quality in online learning.”
“On behalf of the fourteen programs which comprise the Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance, I want to convey our appreciation of the unique working partnership with Quality Matters that allowed us to successfully accomplish the National Standards for Quality initiative,” added Robert Currie, VLLA Board Chair and Executive Director of Montana Digital Academy. “The updated standards and indicators provide the framework for implementing and maintaining quality online programs, courses and teaching.”
Over 100 individuals with expertise in either K-12 online learning research or practice contributed to the revision, representing a variety of state and regional online learning programs as well as universities and researchers. Private companies, nonprofit organizations and foundations were also represented. John Watson, founder of Evergreen Education Group, praised the highly collaborative process, “I’m thrilled that Digital Learning Collaborative members have been part of the group working on the National Standards revisions. The updated standards will be incredibly valuable to the teachers and school leaders implementing online and blended learning. The field has advanced considerably since the original standards were released, and the new version represents the latest thinking about how to implement online and blended learning to improve outcomes for all students.”
A comprehensive literature review, a users survey and correlation documents were used to inform the revision process, resulting in standard sets that reflect the latest best practices. They also include new explanations and examples that expand the guidance provided in previous versions. The explanations and examples also create flexibility — allowing programs to apply the standards to blended, competency-based or other learning strategies employed.
The revised standards are available to the public under a Creative Commons License and can be downloaded on the National Standards for Quality website. Dawn Nordine, Executive Director, Wisconsin Virtual School and a member of the National Standards for Quality Leadership Team expressed the excitement that her team is feeling over the release, “We, along with many other online programs across the country, are thrilled about the release of the National Standards for Quality Online Learning. The previous standards have been the foundation for building quality K-12 online opportunities for students. Having revised guidance on what exemplary practice looks like today will support program leaders and teachers to plan, implement, and evaluate quality online learning for K-12 students.”
QM’s Director of K-12 Programs Christine Voelker and VLLA’s former Director Butch Gemin and current Director Cindy Hamblin spearheaded the revision efforts on behalf of their organizations and are committed to the ongoing review and improvement of the standards. The final set of standards — the National Standards for Quality Online Courses — are currently under review with a planned release in September 2019.
About the Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance
The Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance is an association of the most innovative virtual programs in the U.S. Consisting largely of leading state virtual schools and several consortia, the member organizations serve well over a quarter of a million online course enrollments annually, provide their districts and students with over 2,200 highly qualified teachers trained in online instruction, supply blended learning services to their constituents and conduct research to validate and inform best practice in online learning. The Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance (VLLA) is a 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit organization (virtuallearningalliance.org) that includes Georgia Virtual School, Idaho Digital Learning Alliance, Illinois Virtual School, Indiana Online, Michigan Virtual, Montana Digital Academy, Nevada Learning Academy, North Carolina Virtual Public School, Virtual Arkansas, The Virtual High School, Virtual SC, Virtual Virginia, Wisconsin eSchool Network and Wisconsin Virtual School.
About Quality Matters
Quality Matters (QM) is an international non-profit organization (qualitymatters.org) that provides tools and professional development for quality assurance in online and blended learning, continuously revised to reflect the most current research and best practice. When you see QM Certification Marks on courses or programs, it means they have met QM Course Design Standards or QM Program Review criteria in a rigorous review process.