The National Standards for Quality Online Learning is an ongoing project to continuously revise the National Standards for Quality Online Courses, Programs and Teaching led by a partnership between Quality Matters, the Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance, and the Digital Learning Collaborative with widespread community support.

History and Purpose:

The National Standards for Quality Online Courses, Programs, and Teaching have been the most used and respected benchmark for states, districts, and schools aspiring to provide quality online courses, programs and teaching, since first being introduced by the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB). The Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance (VLLA) and Quality Matters (QM) organized a committee of experts with various backgrounds in the field of K-12 online learning to take the lead in refreshing the National Standards for Quality Online Courses, Programs, and Teaching previously updated and maintained by the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL). The Digital Learning Collaborative became a partner on the project in 2021.

The purpose of the National Standards for Quality (NSQ) revision initiative is to provide the K-12 online and blended learning community with an updated set of openly licensed standards to help evaluate and improve online courses, online teaching and online programs. Both the VLLA and QM, as well as the project contributors, are committed to a continuous improvement cycle for all three sets of standards for online learning, and to a common philosophy that standards in such a dynamic area as digital learning must be updated regularly to provide a useful benchmark for schools, districts, statewide programs and commercial suppliers of online and blended learning.

Revision Process:

The National Standards for Quality Online Learning are a family and meant to complement one another in their implementation and use. Each set of standards is revised by a team selected for their expertise in either K-12 online learning research or practice. The revision of each set starts with a comprehensive Literature Review so as to ensure the standards are supported by research. Next, a widespread survey is deployed to the community — consisting mainly of users of the standards. Respondents are encouraged to give comprehensive feedback on the standards, including what areas they would like to see revised, topics they would like to see included, and any standards they would like to see removed, along with a rationale. The results from these surveys are compiled and distributed to the standards workgroup teams, who use the feedback, along with the literature review and other correlation documents, to inform the proposed revisions. Once a draft of the new edition is complete, it is sent out to an additional set of reviewers, who provide additional feedback. This additional feedback provides a final bird’s eye view of the standards, and is incorporated into a final draft. The new editions of the National Standards for Quality Online Courses, Programs, and Teaching will be continuously revised to keep abreast with the most current research and best practices in the field. Members of the online learning community will continue to play an important role in contributing to the revisions of each standard set.