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QMplus Baseline Standards

This page provides an overview of our work on baseline standards, in particular why we are doing this and what stage we are at in implementing the standards across the organisation.

If you are interested in the details of the baseline standards, what they are and what it means to meet them, go to our Baseline Standards web pages to get started.

Background and rationale

The E-Learning Baseline Standards were originally developed by the E-Learning Unit to:

  • Ensure consistent provision of core information and resources in QMplus for all students across Queen Mary University of London.
  • Help us to achieve our strategic objectives around teaching, learning and the student experience.
  • Support schools in delivering a quality online learning experience for their students.
  • Update and build-upon the existing School and Faculty policies around e-learning and QMplus originally developed 2012-2014 with the introduction of QMplus.

and have been further refined in the light of feedback from Faculties and Schools, to include local practices.

Recent changes to regulations around the accessibility of learning content has also driven the need for guidance on the design and delivery of digital learning materials. Accessibility is therefore a key component of our standards.

The need for a baseline was underlined by the student survey of QMplus conducted in early 2017. In response to questions on the look and feel of QMplus course areas, the majority of respondents were generally positive, however a significant number commented on the the need for:

  • improved layout
  • simpler navigation
  • less clutter
  • better content organisation
  • removal of outdated, irrelevant and broken links

The baseline is a direct response to the specific recommendation from the survey to

Publish a new "Enhancement framework" for e-learning that includes a minimum standard for all modules of both administrative AND teaching materials as well as practical suggestions for enhancing materials and empowering learners

It is important to understand that a baseline standard is not intended to limit the ambition of staff in the development of online learning materials. It is an indicator of the minimum standards necessary and thereby a basis for further extending and enhancing online provision.

Baseline Plus, an extension of the baseline, will provide guidance to staff on how they can enhance their online teaching beyond the minimum standards laid out in the baseline. If you are already using QMplus extensively, a better starting point might be the Baseline Plus

Applicability

The core set of standards applies to all taught programmes that use individual course areas on QMplus for each module. There will be variations in templates (colours, structure) by school, department or programme but the core principles will apply across all modules.

A separate set of guidelines, derived from the standard baseline, may be developed for non-modular programmes such as MBBS (undergraduate medicine). However, many of the components of the Baseline Standards are still applicable to non-modular programmes especially those aspects relating to general course design and accessibility of materials.

Implementation

Guidance

Information relating to the Baseline, its constituent parts and guidance on how to ensure areas on QMplus meet the Baseline have been developed and are kept under review. This information can be found on the QMplus Baseline Standards part of our website.

Humanities and Social Sciences Audit

During the summer of 2019 the faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences carried out an audit of QMplus modules across a number of its Schools using the QMplus Baseline Standards. The audit was carried out by students, paid for by the faculty and managed by the E-Learning Unit. A report on the outcome of this audit was produced and work is ongoing to follow up on the findings. The report, HSS QMplus Audit – using the E-Learning QMplus Baseline Standards has been published on our website.

Reviewing

Once the baseline is in place, it is recommended that schools initiate a rolling programme of review so that all modules are monitored at least once every three years for conformity to the standard. How schools carry out their review will be determined locally but might include:

  • Staff peer observation/review
  • Programme level activities
  • Student-Staff Liaison Committees (SSLCs) with students on programme concerned checking how their programmes match up against baseline standards.

A checklist based on the standard is provided to enable staff to check their modules for conformity and to facilitate any subsequent review process.

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