How do we know if our courses are well designed?
What do the best online instructors do?
Standards of quality in online course design and teaching can be helpful when thinking about questions like these. Many research studies over the last two decades have attempted to figure out what has the most significant impact on student learning. Institutions such as the University of California, Chico, Quality Matters, and the Online Learning Consortium are dedicated to advancing quality standards in online education and as a result, have developed rubrics to define them. These rubrics can be used as a tool for self-reflection, a guide for designing a new course, or as a tool to assist with peer review and/or evaluation.
To promote excellence in online course design and teaching and learning at MSU, the ITDS group has developed a set of review forms for online course design and teaching. Either form can be adapted or revised according to the pedagogical approach of an individual department, program, or faculty.
The MSU Course Design Review Form
The Course Design Review Form serves as a guide to assess whether an online course is well designed from a pedagogical and technological point of view. It is loosely based on the Quality Matters Program’s standards, Montclair State University’s OCIA course design model (Orientation, Content, Interaction, Assessment), and best practices in online teaching and learning. This form includes the following categories:
- Course Overall
- Learning Materials and Activities
- Learning Assessments
- Technology, Accessibility & Copyright
The MSU Online Teaching Peer Observation Form
The Online Teaching Peer Observation Form is designed for faculty to conduct peer review or to self-assess online teaching and facilitation practices. It provides faculty with a starting point to observe/evaluate the effectiveness of online/hybrid teaching. This form includes the following categories:
- Course Overall
- Instructional Materials
- Learning Activities and Interaction
- Learning Assessment
Defining standards of quality in online and hybrid courses and programs can help impact student learning experiences, student satisfaction, and retention. By establishing standards of quality, it not only ensures the quality of each individual course but also provides consistency for faculty expectations and student experiences across the institution.
Other Rubrics and Scorecards
The Quality Matters Higher Education Rubric
The Quality Matters rubric is well known for its research-based approach. It originated from the work of a consortium representing different universities to examine how to measure quality in online courses. Through a Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) grant, they conducted an extensive literature review to develop a rubric to reflect standards of quality in online courses. QM generally updates the rubric every three years based on new findings in ongoing research. The current Quality Matters Higher Education Rubric is in the Sixth Edition.
The Rubric for Online Instruction from California State University, Chico
California State University, Chico brought faculty and staff together to develop a comprehensive Rubric for Online Instruction. It comprises six domains used to clarify what a high-quality course looks like. The six domains are the following:
- Learner Support and Resources
- Online Organization and Design
- Instructional Design and Delivery
- Assessment and Evaluation of Student Learning
- Innovative Teaching with Technology
- Faculty Use of Student Feedback
The Online Learning Consortium Quality Scorecard Suite
The Online Learning Consortium has developed a Quality Scorecard Suite to provide a set of tools to evaluate the quality of online learning at the course and program level. These include:
- The OSCQR Course Design Review scorecard from SUNY Online.
- Administration Of Online Programs
- Blended Learning Programs
- Quality Course Teaching & Instructional Practice
- Digital Courseware Instructional Practice
- Online Student Support
- Pedro, N.S. & Kumar, S. (2020). Institutional support for online teaching in quality assurance frameworks. Online Learning, 24(3), 50-66. https://doi.org/10.24059/olj.v24i3.2309
- “Standards from the Quality Matters Higher Education Rubric, Sixth Edition. Quality Matters. Retrieved from Specific Review Standards from the QM Higher Education Rubric, Sixth Edition