United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) Mission
The USDLA mission is to support the development and application of distance learning, education and training by uniting learners around the world.
Overview: Quality Standards/Professional (QS/P)
The United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) offers one of the only distance learning certification programs that focus on online programs that serve a remote learning community. The QS/P provides recognition to non-profit organizations, corporations, and other businesses groups that serve online learning communities. Certification is a time-defined, renewable credential awarded by an nationally recognized authoritative body for demonstrating the knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform and deliver a robust program that meets the diverse needs of the community the organization supports.
- Provides evidence that the program(s) provided are appropriate and being offered through a sustainable learning and development program ensuring a commitment to accuracy, effectiveness, and trust to the learning community being supported.
- Provides a process for regularly examining programs, processes, and data around organizational goals and individual learning through analysis, reflection, inquiry, and dialogue.
- Builds a professional culture to support the organization’s strategic plan while providing a framework for organizational structure and tactical management.
- Fosters the continuous improvement of the individual courses of training and development offered through the overall programs and operations supporting the diverse needs of the learning community.
- Provides valuable insights from practicing professionals that review materials, meet members of the user community, and visit the organization.
USDLA QS/P Certification
The USDLA QS/P symbol certifies that the organization adheres to recognized standards of quality and performance, is responsive to its constituencies, and is committed to excellence in all aspects of its distance learning program.
USDLA Quality Standards/Professional (QS/P) Goal
The goal of the USDLA Quality Standards/Professional (QS/P) is three-fold. First, the QS/P provides the organization the opportunity to review and reflect on its efforts to support its learning community that may be a mix of employees and external clientele. Second, the QS/P offers the tools and a framework for continuous improvement an organization can use to develop their content offerings. Third, effective self-regulation fosters a climate more conducive to leadership support, learner success, and continued growth.
USDLA Quality Standards/Professional (QS/P) Purpose
The purpose of the QS/P is to provide the organization a framework to improve the quality of courses and programs being delivered and to identify potential areas for improvement by offering a regularly scheduled opportunity for each program to review, reflect, and self-assess. Specifically, this self-study process is designed to facilitate the following objectives:
✓ Provide a self-assessment framework used to promote continuous improvement of the overall program supporting higher level review and analysis.
✓ Provide the organization the opportunity to reflect and recognize the program’s overall performance and gain an understanding of areas of opportunity creating improvement plans going forward.
✓ Identify areas when the program(s) have positively impacted the organization and employee success while, thru analysis and self-reflection, identify areas where members of the learning community could be supported more effectively. This will lead to recommendations focused on techniques to improve performance outcomes as measured by participant achievement and organizational metrics.
Application Process – Click Here to Apply
Applying to the USDLA for QS/P certification begins with a reflective overview of the program(s) being submitted for review. In this submission report key factors should be included such as:
- Analysis of program data including assessment results, performance, and organizational metrics.
- Review of courses and curriculum.
- Organizational vision, goals, and alignment of program direction.
- Resource and staffing models including professional development.
Learning infrastructure including hardware and software platforms/tools.
Conclusions and recommendations.
Access to examples of program components, such as courses, is highly recommended. It is highly advised that the submitting organization and team use the USDLA Quality Standards/Professional application form during the self-study process as it contains the key rubrics and examples used to conduct the review. For access to this application please contact Dr. Arletha McSwain (firstname.lastname@example.org).
These materials are then reviewed by an assigned team composed of experienced USDLA evaluators who then set up schedules to visit (virtually and in person when and where appropriate) the organization and key stakeholders of the learning, operational, and administrative teams along with a sample group of learning community members.
Final report & recommendation
After the review and visit has occurred, and any additional follow questions have been resolved, the review team writes up a final report with recommendations that is submitted for approval to the Executive Committee of the USDLA.
The purpose of the review and the one- or two-day visit by members of the USDLA certification review team is to gain a deeper understanding of the organization’s purpose, the team offering and supporting the program(s) being reviewed, and the overall operational processes used to deliver the program(s) to the learning community being supported. This includes the participation of key stakeholders beginning in the self-study process and through the site visit. The visiting committee recommendations are based on the USDLA QS/P criteria and standards, the provided self-study materials, and findings from the visit. The QS/P reviewing process is composed of the following sections with the form available for review:
➢ Leadership & Management
➢ Learning & Strategy Design
➢ Instruction/Facilitation & Learning Activities
➢ Case study
In addition, a course level self-analysis tool is available to the organization to be used as another resource to develop effective and instructionally robust courses that are used in the program(s) being provided to the meet the diverse need of the learning community.
Certification is based on the USDLA Standards of Practice, the Code of Conduct, and evidence of a well-implemented continuous improvement process. The term of the QS/P certification is for a three (3) year period, subject to performance and annual renewal. The cost of the QS/P Standards initial review process is $3,500 with an annual renewal fee of $1,500 and a non-refundable application fee of $750.
USDLA QS Standards of Practice
- The USDLA/QS program incorporates 87 Standards of Practice. Rarely do all of these apply to every institution or organization thus, exemptions are granted by the review team without penalty. The USDLA crafted these Standards initially for educational institutions however they provide a high level of guidance every organization can use as they see fit.
- All participants of the USDLA QS/P certification process agree to operate consistently with the core principles summarized below.
- Participants align program efforts to organizational requirements.
- Participants adhere to accepted practices of administration, leadership, and management working with integrity across their organization, developing and supporting the entire learning community with quality courses and programs.
- Participants will follow and use robust and effective instructional strategies in the development of courses, curriculum, and enterprise-wide programs. They will use a robust assessment methodology that measures the effectiveness of the individual and impact of the program on the organization.
- Participants will demonstrate their advocacy for the learning community they serve and support in terms of infrastructure, professional staff development, and creating experiences that engage the remote learner effectively and efficiently.
USDLA Code of Conduct
All participants of the USLDA QS/P certifications process agree to operate consistently with the principles summarized below.
✓ Practice high ethical principles.
✓ Comply with legal and regulatory requirements of its jurisdiction.
✓ Confirm to generally accepted United States Distance Learning Association norms for its organizational training, instructional, and professional development programs.
✓ Honor its promises and commitments.