Fresh Baked and Research Based: The QM Rubric’s 7th Edition is here! 

Two hands kneeding dough for bread. The hands are making the shape of a heart and the middle of the dough features a QM logo.

The Quality Matters Framework has served as a North Star for FIU Online’s course developers for over 10 years. In that time, and in collaboration with 398 faculty members, FIU Online has successfully certified over 700 Quality Matters courses.  

Why QM? Simple. Embracing QM as a standard for course design not only enhances the quality of online education but also promotes student success by providing a structured roadmap for course improvement. One of the best parts of the QM framework is that its rubric “is updated periodically to reflect community input, new research and changes in best practices” to continuously adapt to the needs of today’s leaners. (Quality Matters, 2023) 

The updated 7th edition did just that and added a focus on inclusion and belonging to its latest release.  

What Changed? 

Aside from incorporating synchronous online and continuing education courses, this edition introduces fresh research-backed standards. These standards aim to promote a sense of belonging and uphold academic integrity. There are a total of seven key updates to the rubric: 

1) Adopted use of the term “hybrid”:

The rubric now universally uses the term “Hybrid Courses” instead of “Blended Courses,” and includes specific instructions where needed.  

2) Synchronous Online and Continuing Education course reviews:

The rubric includes extended special instructions to encompass additional relevant digital learning formats, such as synchronous methods. This means that synchronous online and continuing education courses can now be reviewed using the seventh edition rubric.  

3) Clarification of the use of the term “objectives”:

Specifically, “learning objectives or competencies” are now called “learning objectives” throughout the Rubric. 

4) A new Specific Review Standard (SRS) for academic integrity:

The updated content now includes an SRS to clarify how academic integrity policies relate to assessments. This SRS allows instructors to explain instances when learners can collaborate on assessments, utilize open notes, or when assessments must be completed individually. 

5) Additional SRS on accessible materials:

SRS 8.3 has been split into two separate SRSs. 8.3 looks for the accessibility of text while SRS 8.4 looks at the accessibility of images. 8.5 addresses video and audio content accessibility. 

6) New focus on inclusion and belonging:

Many of the standards, whether general or specific, have been modified to include updated language. These changes are intended to enhance clarity and underscore the importance of designing courses that are inclusive and welcoming. 

7) Clarification of the distinction between activities and assessments:

The definitions of activities and assessments were updated to provide more clarity. Specifically, activities are described as being designed to assist learners in preparing for assessments, while assessments are the means by which to gauge learner achievement in meeting the learning objectives. 


  • Instructions were expanded with new additions for synchronous and continuous education courses.
  • The number of SRSs has increased from 42 to 44. 
  • A few terminology updates were implemented. 
  • The descriptions and annotations for some of the general and specific standards were revised. 

Overall, the 7th edition further enhances the existing QM standard by offering more explicit guidance and inclusion of diversity, accessibility, and academic integrity. 

For more detailed changes, you can order the new rubric or speak with your FIU Online Instructional Design team.  

Sources: Quality Matters. (2023). Quality Matters Higher Education Design Standard for Online and Hybrid Courses (Seventh ed.). Annapolis, United States of America: Quality Matters. 

Christina Schettini is a Project Manager for the FIU Online Learning Design team. Through her work, she supports the development of effective and engaging learning experiences in the online modality.

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