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Kent State’s Intro to Financial Accounting Hybrid Course Earns Quality Matters Certification

Posted Jan. 9, 2012 | Sarah James
enter photo description
Kent State Assistant Professor Wendy Tietz’s
Intro to Financial Accounting hybrid course was
recently Quality Matters (QM) certified. The
certification validates excellence in online
instruction.

Kent State Assistant Professor Wendy Tietz’s Intro to Financial Accounting hybrid course has been Quality Matters (QM) certified, which validates excellence in online instruction at Kent State University.

The nationally recognized certification requires the course include three components: The Quality Matters Rubric, the Peer Review Process and Quality Matters Professional Development.

“Quality Matters has a rubric of best practices for online and hybrid classes. This rubric encompasses eight different areas,” says Tietz. “It’s based on best practices and research.”

The eight general standards include assessment and measurement, instructional materials, course technology, learner support, learning objectives, course overview and accessibility. Tietz worked with three Quality Matters instructors to further tailor her course.

Tietz worked with Kent State’s Senior Instructional Designer Vicki Gutierrez to tailor her course to QM standards, and with Instructional Designer Valerie Kelly to design and streamline her Vista course.

“We’re in constant contact regarding her course,” says Gutierrez. “Dr. Tietz is very forward-thinking and extremely technology savvy.”

Kelly says that Kent State at Geauga introduced the Quality Matters program to the Kent Campus.

“The QM design standards are being implemented to guide course development at Kent State,” Kelly says. “Educational technologists and instructional designers throughout Kent State now use the QM standards to help faculty with course development.”

Tietz has experimented with online classes for four of her 12 years at Kent State. She holds a B.A and an M.B.A. in accounting from the University of Akron and a Ph.D. in Education from Kent State.

To Tietz, the Intro to Financial Accounting hybrid course is all about choice. Students can attend class in person or attend the live lecture online through a blackboard feature called Wimba. Students are able to watch the lecture at their own convenience. While Tietz lectures, a graduate assistant answers students’ questions through a chat window in the Blackboard Wimba platform.

“Students don’t have to be physically tethered to this class,” she says. “There are so many options.”

“I loved how flexible the class was,” says Jessica Smeltz, a former Intro to Financial Accounting student. “All of the parts fit together so well. It was definitely a step up from the other online classes I’ve taken.”

Tietz harnesses social media to engage more than 600 students. She began using Twitter as a class resource three years ago. Even if students weren’t subscribers, updates streamed instantly to Blackboard. Once students began asking questions requiring longer responses, Tietz began an Intro to Financial Accounting blog to help students solve problems step by step.

Although blogging allowed her to connect with students, the conversation only flowed one way. The course had a Facebook page, but students were reluctant to use it for school purposes. To combat this problem, Tietz turned to Ning, a customizable social networking platform.

“It seems to create a bigger sense of community,” she says. “I really like it. I feel like I can connect better when people are asking questions there. They like the choices.”

Because course and instructor evaluations are not designed with online courses in mind, Tietz crafted her own evaluations, which she administers in weeks five, 10 and 15.

“I think teaching is more of an art than a science. At some point you say, how am I doing? How do I engage 600 students?” she says. “In large classes, engagement is important.”

Through social media, she wants to convey the message to students: “You’re not alone. There’s somewhere you can get help if you need it.”

For more information about Quality Matters, visit www.qmprogram.org. For more information about the Intro to Financial Accounting or Tietz, visit www.kent.edu/business/accounting/index.cfm.