Course Design Guidelines
These guidelines have been adapted from the The Quality Matters Rubric: a set of 8 general standards and 41 specific standards used to evaluate the design of online and blended courses.
A. Course Overview and Introduction
- Course contains an introductory module with clear information about how to get started and how to navigate the course components.
- Students are introduced to the purpose of the course and how it fits into a larger field of study.
- Course and institutional policies are linked to or clearly stated.
- Prerequisite knowledge or competencies are clearly stated.
- Minimum required technical skills are clearly stated.
- Expectations about online etiquette or “netiquette” are explained.
- The self-introduction by the instructor is included.
- Students are asked to introduce themselves.
- A detailed explanation of the course requirements, including participation standards, is clearly presented to the students with examples and/or associated evaluative criteria, where appropriate.
B. Instructional Objectives
- Course includes a well-defined set of course-level learning objectives that map clearly to multiple learner competencies, most of which are measurable.
- Course includes a well-defined set of module/unit level objectives that are measurable and aligned with the course-level objectives.
- Objectives presented meet a level of rigor appropriate for the course; e.g., at the “comprehension” or “analysis” levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.
C. Content Presentation and Learner Engagement
- Navigation through course content is intuitive and/or clearly organized/explained; e.g., built into the course structure.
- An introductory course module engages students so they get to know each other and the instructor while practicing the use of the communication mechanisms that help them succeed in the course.
- Offline and online course activities are integrated throughout the course.
- Content presentation is connected to participation and activities.
- In some cases the same/equivalent content is offered in different media formats to accommodate various learning styles (e.g. narrated PowerPoint with sound and text, flowchart and textual narrative, audio and textual narrative).
- Content is presented in portions of reasonable size that are focused on specific concepts and can be linked to instructional objectives.
- Content and activities are spread out throughout the course so that the students are involved with the course material every week while the course is offered.
D. Communication and Collaboration
- Interaction elements are aligned with course objectives and examples (e.g., clearly written discussion postings) are provided as models.
- Communication within the course incorporates a variety of tools, both synchronous and asynchronous, if appropriate to goals (e.g. discussion board, email, chat, phone, virtual office hours).
- Participants have multiple opportunities to work collaboratively collaborate with other students in order to meet course outcomes and learner objectives effectively. (e.g., collaborative projects, study groups, virtual student ‘café’) if appropriate to course goals.
- Students are encouraged to initiate communication with the instructor and/or other students.
- Communication channels and requirements are clearly defined, possibly with rubric or sample postings.
- Students are required to communicate with each other and/or the instructor at least once every week, preferably 2-3 times a week.
E. Assessment of Learning
- Assessment activities are provided to determine successful attainment of course objectives.
- All deadlines, grading components and submission requirements are clearly defined.
- Opportunities for ongoing self-assessment, with feedback, are included. (e,g, formative quizzes, reflective journaling, digital flashcards, jeopardy type games, crossword puzzles, etc.)
- Some of the assessments require higher order thinking, such as comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, evaluation. See instructional strategies for Bloom’s Taxonomy.
- Explanations are provided for assignments and other activities in the course, where appropriate samples of acceptable or exemplary work may be included.
F. Learner Support
- Links to useful support services (library, writing center, etc.) are included.
- Policies related to student/participant success and ethical behavior (e.g., plagiarism, intellectual property, cheating, netiquette, etc.) are included.
- Links to necessary plug-ins, such as PowerPoint reader, Adobe PDF Reader, Real Player, QuickTime are included. (Common plug-ins will be pre-loaded, and Adelphi’s Web developer will amend where needed for students to be able to access entire course content)
- Course includes an area for contact and biographical information for instructor (and other “important folks”) which will be filled in by individual instructors later on.
- Open opportunities for peer support and questions about the course exist (e.g. in form of a discussion forum “Questions about the course”)
G. Technology & Design Elements
- The course is at least minimally aesthetically pleasing, exhibiting considered visual design elements (balance, appropriate use of color, adequate “white space,” clearly and consistently labelled course components, etc.).
- Multimedia/third-party software use does not distract from learning but is integrated into course content in a purposeful manner.
- The course is designed with an awareness of potential connectivity issues (e.g., large video files are not included if some students may have slow connections or do not have access to adequate bandwidth).
- The course makes use of accessible technologies and provides guidance on how to obtain accommodations.
- The course contains equivalent alternatives to auditory and visual content.
- The course design facilitates readability and minimizes distractions.
- The course content is compatible with assistive technologies. (e.g., most or all documents can be read with a screen reader).