Distance Education


Articles of Interest

Course Design Standards
It is important that online courses adhere to minimum design standards. These standards will be evaluated by a peer group (the faculty members of the eLearning Advisory Council and the Director of eLearning) and judged against a local set of standards to be developed and/or an adopted rubric such as Quality Matters. These design standards should include but not be limited to the following:

  • All courses should be designed around learning outcomes of the course. These learning outcomes are determined by the instructor and academic unit and become the basis for the course design in consultation with eLearning. The course design should align learning outcomes with assessments and activities designed to ensure that learning outcomes are achieved.
  • Given the unique nature of online/hybrid courses, it is important that the designs of such courses include formative and summative evaluation that focus on the efficacy of the design, not the content. Formative evaluations may take on many forms as determined by the design team (appropriate faculty member(s) and the Director of eLearning), but shall include opportunities for students to give feedback on the course design and delivery, activities, assessments, and other aspects of the course. Some formative assessments should be completed by the mid-point of the course. Summative assessments will include the current adopted Student Evaluation of Instruction for all courses as determined by the appropriate faculty process. Whether as part of this SEI or other evaluation, courses should be evaluated at the end of the instructional period to determine the overall effectiveness of the course design, student perception and satisfaction, and other factors as deemed necessary for course improvement.
  • Course design should include activities that enhance student-student, student-content, and student-instructor interaction in an environment that promotes interactive and collaborative learning. As much as possible and dependent upon the discipline, courses should not rely heavily on simple reading-and-recall methods of delivery. Activities and assessments that require higher-level thinking and that are authentic in nature should receive focus. Online quizzes should not be a major learning or assessment strategy for most courses.
  • Courses should adhere to standards determined by the design team. Not all courses necessarily fit into a standard structure; however, the goal is to create course designs and structures that create reliable expectations for students. These standard interfaces shall be developed by eLearning, reviewed by the ELearning Advisory Council, and applied as appropriate to specific courses by the design team. The standard interfaces should include (but not limited to) standard options for modular organization (time or topical based, for example), home-pages and navigation menus, colors, graphics, and other design and visual elements to enhance learning. Courses should not rely on extreme colors, graphics, or other overly personal aspects of design. Courses will include the minimum requirements and policies as set forth below.
  • Required course elements such as standard statements, student orientation modules, attendance verification, and other standard course components will be included in course shells. Instructors should be cautious about substantively altering these elements.
  • All courses shall be designed with accessible content as outlined in Section 508 of the Americans with Disabilities Act (refer to Accessibility section). Content shall be accessible by assistive technology such as screen readers. Videos and other multi-media must include necessary accessibility requirements.
  • Courses must adhere to the USG policy regarding copyrighted material and in consideration of “Fair Use” for instructional use of copyrighted materials.
  • Efficient and pedagogically sound use of LMS tools and other online services is required of all courses. As much as possible, most or all assignments should be submitted online. Any face- to-face activities such as proctored exams must be included in the course syllabus.
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