Distance Learning

Quality Online Course Design Guidelines Checklist

Course: ________________________________ Date of Review: _____________________

Faculty Course Creator: _________________________________________ (Signature)

Reviewer: _________________________________________ (Signature)

These best practices guidelines have been compiled from materials produced by the following: Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications, Good Practices for Electronically Offered Degree and Certificate Programs (endorsed by the eight regional accrediting commissions, including WASC); the American Distance Education Consortium; Illinois Online Network; and online course review checklists used by the California State University at Humboldt, CSU-Chico, the University of Alaska at Anchorage, Houston Community College, and the University of Texas Telecampus.

It is not expected that all items in a category will be found in a course. Teaching and learning of the curriculum determines the best tools to be used. The faculty member, as the Subject Matter Expert (SME) controls the creation of the best learning environment.

Learning Outcomes:

Learning outcomes are clearly defined and explained, allowing students to focus on learning activities.

The online course has comparable content and expectations for student learning outcomes and acceptable levels of student performance with the corresponding face-2-face (F2F) course.

The learning outcomes described in the course are documented through exams/quizzes, journals, papers, projects, and/or portfolios.

The course syllabus gives the student an accurate and comprehensive overview of learning outcomes, assignments and exams, expectations, course policies (e.g., late papers, make-up exams), access information, grading, and other essential information. The intent is that this information is available the first day of the term.

Resources and Course Materials:

Course materials foster learning in the online environment. Effectiveness of the technology and presentation of content is monitored throughout the course.

The instructional materials support the stated learning outcomes and have sufficient content for the student to learn the subject.

Course materials are organized in logical order over the term.

Lectures, notes, readings, and other materials are posted in platform-free format (e.g., PDF, RTF, PPS); students have the option of printing at least some materials.

The instructor has complied with the Copyright Guidelines from Edwin H. Mookini Library before using copyrighted materials and, if needed, used the additional resources on Copyright Fair Use from the University of California.

Course materials are presented in a variety of formats in addition to print text, such as streaming video, narrated PowerPoints, PDF files, web conferencing, live capture lectures, and discussions.

Assignments engage students in active and interactive learning, such as problem solving, discussion board interaction, PowerPoint presentations, and/or small-group reports to the class.

The course offers simple and reliable means for students to submit assignments and for instructors to return them.

The instructor provides links to capitalize on rich website content, archives, and other online information resources.

Instructions for assignments are explicit about what students should be able to do, the conditions under which the student should produce the assignment, and how well the student should perform; rubrics are provided for assignments.


The instructor ensures that students can access online materials as easily as in face-to-face courses.

Provide access to the course through password/registration process to authenticate student identity.

The course website/syllabus includes the university's advising, disability, and sexual assault policy statements.

The website/syllabus lists the technological requirements for the course: hardware, software, level of access to the Internet, student skill levels.

Content pages have links that are self-describing and meaningful. Essential images are tagged for users of screen readers; decorative images should have null ("") in Alternative Text in Laulima or in the Description field in Word.

The course demonstrates sensitivity to readability issues (i.e., avoids the use of colored text only to convey meaning or other bright colors).

Online Communication:

The online course offers frequent and personal student-instructor interaction.

The course website/syllabus provides a welcome to the course and a self-introduction by the instructor.

Clear standards of realistic timelines are set for instructor response and availability.

The instructor provides course-specific email to respond reliably and promptly (within 24 to 72 hours) to student questions and requests for assistance or to indications that a student is not able to manage the online environment.

The instructor is available as stated in the syllabus to students via course email; course Chat, Discussion, or Meetings tools; and/or such free tools such as FaceTime, Hālāwai, Skype, etc.

Community Building:

The online course fosters a sense of community for those whom this is a desired outcome.

The requirements for course interaction are clearly stated. Students are requested to meet each other online through autobiographical sketches, one-minute movies, or other presentations posted on a course forum, with or without student photos.

Students are provided with opportunities to interact with each other via frequent asynchronous postings addressing course content, monitored by their instructor.

The course website/syllabus includes a course netiquette statement or links to netiquette web pages.

Students are provided with opportunities to participate in small group discussions and team projects, presenting the results to the class on the course website.

Assessment and Evaluation:

Through assessment and evaluation of student learning, the instructor is systematically and regularly assessing learning.

Assessments and evaluations are tailored to the learning outcomes described within the course. The instructor provides fast, focused, and frequent feedback on student assignments, quizzes, and exams. Feedback/grades are recorded and easily accessible to students.

Instructor develops simple, appropriate grading rubrics and provides them with assignments so students know how they are being graded.

Instructor returns assignments with comments (via commenting within the Assignment and Discussions tools, MS Word “Insert Comments,” or other commenting capabilities) and/or with filled-in rubrics.

Best performances are posted on the course website as models for all students.

The performance of students in online courses is regularly compared with those of students in the corresponding F2F courses, with a view to improving teaching and materials in both kinds of courses.

Learner Support:

Course provides information and resources to promote learner success.

The instructor provides links to technology tutorials and other aids.

The instructor provides instructions on where students can obtain technical support.

The instructor provides links and/or training in accessing and navigating the online environment is provided.

Students who lack Internet access from home are offered alternatives (ex: allowed to copy non-copyrighted materials onto their flash drives or offered course materials on DVD/CD).

Welcome email and syllabus provides instructions on how to get access to library databases for those courses in which databases are used. [DL librarian can provide information for course insertion].

Summary of Certification:

This course demonstrates quality course design and has earned the Certificate on this date _____________________