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Course Quality

Evaluation Standards for Online and Hybrid Courses

Standards for online and hybrid courses were developed by the Distance Education Committee and provided to Divisions for the purpose of using during the faculty evaluation process. They fall into four categories: usability and accessibility, communication, instructional methods and assessment, and design/presentation.

Category 1: Usability and Accessibility

This section includes standards referenced in Section 508 (Federal Law) for web accessibility and specific information and examples are available at Creating Accessible Web Pages.

  • Course is easy to navigate.
  • Course provides access to plug-ins or other applications supporting course content.
  • Course provides instructor contact information.
  • Course materials provide link to campus resources, including support for the learning management system (e.g. Blackboard).
  • Course complies with Section 508 standards for accessibility.

Category 2: Communication

Effective communication provides multiple opportunities for student interaction, response and collaboration. Effective student/teacher contact is required by Title 5. In an online environment there must be evidence of effective communication opportunities in the following: the online discussion board, use of a grade form, web conferencing, in-person office hours, scheduled chat times, and phone communication. The instructor is responsible for posting policies on communication in their web-based courses. Information may typically be found in a syllabus or at other key spots throughout the course materials.

  • Course uses a variety of media to communicate course materials (for example, text, graphics, audio, video, etc.).
  • Course uses standard online communication tools. (Examples may include email, discussion boards, chat, announcements, etc.)
  • There is evidence of provision for regular effective contact between instructor and students. (Examples may include expectations of availability of and turnaround time for contact with instructor.)
  • Netiquette expectations are clearly stated.

Category 3: Instructional Methods and Assessment

The instructor should use a variety of instructional methods and assessment to accommodate different learning styles. The following video illustrates one instructor's journey to improve her online teaching. Seven Actions that Improved my Online Teaching (Elisa Webb, Ohlone College)

  • Start-up or welcome instructions are provided.
  • Student learning outcomes are clearly identified; course objectives and completion requirements are present. Expectation of student's participation, honesty, etc. is clear.
  • Assignments and grading standards are clearly stated. (Examples may include sample assignments, clear directions, criteria used to evaluate discussion board participation or peer review.)
  • Feedback is provided throughout the course: self-tests written feedback, discussion board, email, etc.
  • Student knowledge, attitudes, and/or skills are assessed in multiple ways.

Category 4: Design/Presentation

The instructor should insure the course is well-designed and presented.

  • Course content is organized in a logical format.
  • Syllabus or orientation (online and/or in person) provides course navigation guidance.
  • Course is visually and functionally consistent.
  • Pages are designed to be readable.
  • Language of written material is friendly and supportive.



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