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A seal of approval for online courses

Tidewater Community College’s online courses will soon have the Quality Matters Seal of Approval. A pilot peer review process, with four faculty members who teach online, was recently completed with good results. The goal of the Quality Matters program is to ensure courses meet quality standards and student needs. Similar to the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, courses meeting Quality Matters standards will be branded with the QM logo.

“What we’ve launched has been a long time coming,” says Daniel DeMarte, vice president for student learning and chief academic officer. “Our pilot peer group has set the standard for others to follow. And it’s our goal to have more Quality Matters courses than any other community college in the Commonwealth by the end of the year.”

Pilot peer reviewed faculty were Patricia Heft, CST 126; Diane Ryan, CST 100; Jeannie Taylor, MTH 121; and Carole Whitener, CHD 120.

“Initially, I wasn’t sure I wanted to open my course for criticism from anyone other than my students,” Whitener says. “But for more years than I am prepared to admit, I have tweaked this course, never fully satisfied that it met my standards. The reviewers’ comments and recommendations were spot on and will yield further improvements.”

Adds Heft, “The whole Quality Matters process is very good and I believe all faculty would benefit from this type of training.”

“It’s all about student success,” Ryan says. “It’s really important that students understand how the course works and what they are supposed to learn from the onset.”

“I knew I had a good course, but now I have the QM seal to prove it,” Taylor says. “Even though I met all of the standards, there were some really good suggestions from the reviewers on ways I can improve specific items to make the course even better.”

For more information on Quality Matters, contact Lynn Rainard, faculty liaison for Quality Matters at or Deborah Edson, interim dean of eLearning at