Topic: Teachers College

April 7, 2016

It was spring 2015 when Ball State’s online and distance education team began piloting a program designed to measure not only what the university was doing to help students succeed but also to provide benchmarks for how the team, and other groups, can and should shape their online programs.

Now, one year later, the organization that partnered with Ball State, Quality Matters, a nonprofit group that provides standards and certifications for everything from professional development for online educators, to course and program review, has named the university as a certified Learner Support Program. It’s the first online and distance education program in the country to have received the designation.

In simpler terms, it means Ball State puts students first — and folks are noticing.

“The quality of Ball State’s learner support program was evident to the review team, and it demonstrates Ball State’s commitment to its students and to the quality of their learning experience,” said Deb Adair, executive director of Quality Matters, which has reviewed 5,000 online courses and 1,000 institutions since its launch in 2005.

Staci Davis, executive director of operations for Ball State’s Division of Online and Distance Education, said piloting a program can be a little unnerving at first. But a key motivation for her was to find ways her team can keep getting better.

“By completing the pilot and acquiring the certification, we’ve learned even more about how we can make continuous improvements based on industry standards, best practices and student feedback,” Davis said.

She added that the division routinely asks students about what would be helpful, and the pilot work and subsequent certification were no different.

“Students we talked with said this gives them confidence that there is truth to what is stated on our website and within our advertising,” Davis said. “They thought the quality standard shows that we are exceptional at the services we provide. We’re really proud of the work we do and appreciate the certification we have achieved through Quality Matters.”