distance at fsu | Office of Distance Learning

FSU Online Quality Initiative

The Fall 2021 application cycle is currently closed. Dates for our Spring 2022 cycle will be announced soon. See How to Get a Course FSU-Certified below for details.

FSU is committed to the continuous improvement of its online courses. We know from research and practice that quality online courses result in better learning outcomes and a better student experience. FSU's Online Quality Initiative promotes academic excellence in distance learning courses and provides a strong foundation for student success in the online learning environment. With increased support for online course design and a course certification process focused on student success, FSU is removing barriers to learner achievement in distance learning courses. Together, we’re taking "distance" further!

What Does a Quality Online Course Look Like?

FSU uses the nationally recognized Quality Matters to assess the quality of its online courses. To receive a passing score and an FSU-certified quality online course designation, your course will need to meet all of the rubric’s “essential” standards, plus an additional standard involving multimedia accessibility. This will involve creating measurable course- and module-level learning objectives and aligning them with learning activities, attending to principles of universal design, developing accessible course materials, and including course elements that engage students and promote a quality learning experience.   

More student interactions

Quality Matters Standard #5 focuses on how well learning activities provide learner interaction in support of active learning.

Better student participation

Quality Matters Standard #3 focuses on assessment and how well a course connects the learner's work to the grading policy.

Technology supports learning

Quality Matters Standard #6 focuses on the inclusion of various technologies to promote learner engagement and active learning.

Higher course evaluation marks

In one study, students enrolled in Quality Matters courses gave higher marks on course evaluations than those enrolled in non-QM courses.*

FSU Course Certification

FSU reviews all online courses for alignment with quality standards. We already boast an extensive catalog of courses that demonstrate high standards of academic quality and rigor. So why go to the trouble of certifying a course for quality? Course certification helps FSU affirm that all online courses demonstrate our university’s core values for academic excellence, diversity, and student success. Regardless of the course, students can count on an experience designed to promote their success online.

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A certified quality course meets all essential standards for course quality, provides access to course materials in alternative formats that meet the needs of diverse learners, and involves two course reviewers.

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High Quality

A certified high-quality course meets all essential standards for course quality, receives 85% or greater of the available points on the Quality Matters rubric, provides access to course materials in alternative formats that meet the needs of diverse learners, and involves three course reviewers.

How to Get a Course FSU-Certified

Ready to take your course to the next level? ODL instructional development staff will provide the training and resources you need to prepare your online course for quality certification. You’ll learn how to apply quality standards to your course, how to conduct a self-evaluation of your course, and receive guidance and feedback throughout the process. Here’s how to get started (see Steps to Certification for a detailed look at what’s involved in course certification):

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Step 1. Apply

ODL offers several certification cycles per year. You can apply to have your course included by completing an online application.


Step 2. Discover

Discover strategies for applying quality standards in your course by completing a short, self-paced training course. Training for the Fall 2021 cycle begins September 23, 2021.

Step 3. Evaluate

Upon completion of training, you'll submit a self-review of your course using a tool introduced in the training. Self-reviews for the Fall 2021 cycle are due on or before October 15, 2021.

Step 4. Revise

Revise your course to meet essential quality standards, incorporating feedback from ODL’s course review team. The deadline to meet all quality certification requirements for the Fall 2021 cycle is December 10, 2021.

Step 5. Certify

Enjoy your FSU-certified course! You’ll receive well-deserved recognition for your commitment to academic excellence. Students will benefit from active learning opportunities, easier navigation, and more accessible content. 

Course Certification Schedule

While our goal is to certify as many courses as possible, to ensure the best outcomes for course quality and instructor experience, we accept a limited number of courses per cycle:


Fall 2021

Date Milestones
September 1 Application window opens
September 14 Last day to submit an application
September 17 Course certification requests selected (eligible instructors will receive email notification and offer letter)
September 22 Last day to sign and submit course certification offer letter
September 23 Instructors enrolled in training course (instructors are encouraged to revise courses while participating in training)
October 15 Course self-review due
December 10 Deadline to meet all quality certification requirements



Ready to get started?

ODL offers training, support resources, and guidance for all instructors who design or revise a course to meet quality or high-quality standards. After successful completion of training and course certification, instructors can expect the following acknowledgments:

Certificate of Completion

Course Certification

Course Quality Report

Provost's Letter of Recognition

In addition to the above, instructors who successfully achieve high-quality course certification will be eligible for a future FSU online teaching award.


*In a study published by Florida International University in July 2016 (The Benefits of Quality Matters Certification: What the Analytics Reveal), students rated their Quality Matters courses higher in every category when compared to non-Quality Matters courses. They also rated their instructors 12% higher in QM versus non-QM courses.


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