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Course Design

Montclair State University recommends using the Orientation-Content-Interaction-Assessment (OCIA) model and course template when designing online and hybrid courses. Our model and template were guided by the nationally recognized Quality Matters Program (QM) in order to ensure high-quality online/hybrid education. This enables faculty and Instructional Designers to work collaboratively to enhance online/hybrid teaching and learning outcomes.


The OCIA Course Design model supports a social, interaction-embedded approach to course design and development and uses learning modules to structure the course. MSU has developed a course template based on this approach, available to faculty when designing online/hybrid courses.

OCIA includes four main components:

OCIA model
  • Orientation: The orientation sets the learning context for each learning module and includes learning objectives, module requirements, and perspective.
  • Content: Each learning module’s content includes all information students need to begin the learning process and engage with concepts introduced.
  • Interaction: Include multiple opportunities for interaction and reflection in your course design by using discussion forums, blogs, wikis, web conferencing, online hours, and group activities.
  • Assessment: Assessment is an opportunity for students to demonstrate that they have achieved the objectives you challenged them to master.

Montclair State Course Template

An Online/Hybrid Course Template at Montclair State University: Effective online/hybrid course design relies on research-based best practices. Montclair State University has developed an online/hybrid course template which is guided by the research-based course design rubric from Quality Matters Program (QM). Online and hybrid courses at Montclair State adopting the course template are designed with a learner-centered and interaction-facilitated approach. The items below are the major components recommended for online and hybrid courses:

  • Welcome: Includes a brief introduction and overview of the course structure and expectations.
  • Syllabus: Contains all relevant course information and a downloadable version of the syllabus. This should include: faculty information, course introduction and course goals/objectives, required textbooks (if applicable), course weekly schedule, assessment and grading system, URL of the student handbook, etc.
  • Learning Modules: Presents individual learning modules of instruction. Each learning module contains learning objectives, requirements, subject content, interaction, and assessment.
  • Cyber Cafe: In this area students get to know each other and post general questions or FAQs.

You can explore a public version of the Canvas Online/Hybrid Template Please note that links to Discussions in the Modules area will not work for you since you are not the teacher of this course. Should you click one of them, feel free to use your browser back button to return to the course template. You may request a copy of this template for your use.

Course Design Rubric

The Quality Matters Program (QM) suggests and provides guidelines on how to develop and maintain high-quality online and hybrid courses. As a member of QM, MSU is committed to integrating the rubric into our online course design process. Access a full version of the QM Rubric Standards 2018 edition with assigned point values.

California State University, Chico, has developed a comprehensive Rubric for Online Instruction designed to clarify what a high-quality course looks like.

Getting Started with Course Design

Please visit our consultation page for more information on how to get started and set up an appointment with an Instructional Designer.