Digital Learning Blog

The Quality Matters (QM) Rubric 7th Edition: Changes and Additions

October 27, 2023  / Digital Learning  / Tags: Quality Matters, Online Course

qm rubric image

The Quality Matters (QM) rubric, now in its 7th edition, is a comprehensive framework designed to evaluate and improve the quality of online and blended courses in higher education. The Department of Digital Learning instructional designers are excited to present the key changes and updates from the 6th edition to the 7th edition of the Quality Matters rubric.

What Changed? 

Aside from incorporating synchronous online and continuing education courses, this edition introduces fresh research-backed standards (many of which came out of COVID 19 experiences). 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. 

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

Additional Resources:


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

Fresh Baked and Research Based: The QM Rubric’s 7th Edition is here! (September 12, 2023)