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Course Design Quality Check

As you begin any course development, you should consider these foundational course design elements of quality, which clarify expectations, organize course structure, and orient students to the course.

Learning designers are available to assist you. Contact LDClearinghouse@psu.edu if you are not sure who your local learning designer is.

Syllabus

  • Check the existing syllabus for references to face-to-face learning. Update course or institutional policies for hybrid or online learning.
  • Clarify how you plan to communicate with students during the course, including your plan for posting announcements or reminders, expected turnaround time for email from students, and how quickly students can expect feedback for graded items.
  • State your expectations for how students will communicate with you and other students through discussions, email, and other forms. Find sample language.
  • Provide a clear grading policy with a list of the number and types of assignments included in the course and their weights and/or points. Also include how the final course grade will be calculated and a late policy explaining how late submissions will be graded.
  • Give students a list of minimum technology requirements for the course, any computer skills they must possess to be successful, and information on how to contact technical support.
  • Include links to academic support, student services, and accessibility services. See examples.

Canvas Structure and Clear Expectations

  • Consider course navigation from the student point of view. Be sure students can easily find and use the different components of the course.
  • Organize the course so that any items that need to be completed are grouped together in a module. Using modules provides a mini checklist for students and reassures them they have completed all the necessary work for the given time frame.
  • Within activity and assessment instructions, share your expectations for successfully completing the work, including any participation requirements, frequency, length, timeliness, formatting, or quality.

Getting Started

Introduce students to the purpose and structure of the course.

  • Provide a short video or written instructions on how to get started and where to find various course components such as the syllabus, content, activities, assessments, and other important items.
    • How do you expect students to use Canvas to complete the course?
    • Where are necessary course items located?
    • How will students submit work?
  • Provide a space where students can introduce themselves to one another to help build a sense of community.
  • Introduce yourself to students in the course space.

Plan for Faculty Presence

  • Plan your sense of presence for the course and communicate it to students.
    • When can students expect to hear from you and in what way?
    • How do you plan to encourage and motivate students?
    • What is your expected turnaround time for answering student questions?
    • How and when do you plan to provide meaningful and timely feedback?
  • Make plans to communicate with students on a regular basis to introduce modules or topics, provide class feedback on previous work, and share course updates or reminders.
    • Will you post regular course announcements?
    • Will you use Canvas mail to communicate with students?

Reference
Adapted from Specific Review Standards from the Quality Matters (QM) Higher Education Rubric, Sixth Edition © 2018 MarylandOnline, Inc. All rights reserved.

These items are adapted from the Quality Matters (QM) Rubric and address 15 QM Specific Review Standards (1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.6, 1.8, 3.2, 5.3, 5.4, 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4, 8.1).Quality Matters (QM) provides a research-based rubric with eight General Standards and 42 Specific Review Standards used to evaluate the design of online and blended courses. Penn State is a subscriber to Quality Matters. You can get more information about Penn State’s use of Quality Matters on the QM@PSU web site.