These standards for developing online courses are based on the Quality Matters Higher Ed Standards rubric. Quality Matters is one of the leading online and hybrid course review organizations in the country. Grounded firmly in the research literature and developed by teams of experienced instructional designers and online educators, Quality Matters is trusted by over 75,000 members and hundreds of institutes of higher education as the gold standard in online learning.

The standards are intended for courses that make use of independent online learning including asynchronous courses, blended courses, flipped classrooms, and hybrid courses.

1. Course Overview and Introduction

  • Clear instructions on how to navigate and participate in the course are found on the course home page or “start here” page.
  • There is a description of the types of meeting modes used in the course (synchronous, asynchronous, blended, hybrid, etc.), including the modes of interaction between students and the instructor.
  • The instructor introduces themselves and asks students to introduce themselves to each other. This is often accomplished through a discussion board or VoiceThread.
  • Communication standards are clearly stated, including when students can expect an email response from the instructor and feedback on assessments.
  • There is a list of technology requirements, a description of how to access those technologies, and information about the accessibility of those technologies. This includes any apps, software, online textbooks, etc.

2. Instructional Materials

  • The course is comparable in rigor to face-to-face courses and meets Temple University’s credit hour policy.
  • A variety of instructional materials are used (readings, videos, web sources, etc.).
  • Pre-recorded lecture videos are no longer than 10 minutes for undergraduate students and 20 minutes for graduate students.
  • The course models the academic integrity expected of learners by providing source references and permissions for all instructional materials.

3. Learning Activities

  • The course provides frequent and regular opportunities for students to practice skills.
  • The course design encourages active learning by providing opportunities for students to learn by doing, discussing, creating, collaborating, self-assessing, and/or peer-assessing, not just reading and watching.
  • The course uses a variety of assessment types (quizzes, discussion boards, low-stakes learning activities, written, oral, etc.).
  • The course provides clear descriptions of how learning activities are designed to help students meet the learning outcomes and course goals.
  • The instructor provides meaningful and timely feedback to help students learn and to maintain regular communication with the students.

4. Accessibility and Navigation

  • Instructional materials and assessments are easily accessible to all students and meet ADA requirements. This includes closed captioning for videos (auto-generated in VoiceThread, Zoom Cloud, or YouTube), description tags for images, and ensuring that websites and PDFs used in the course are accessible by screen readers.
  • The course is organized using labeled modules for each week or each learning unit.
  • Each module has an overview page that includes the module learning objectives and a summary or list of the learning activities, assessments, and due dates.

5. Instructor Presence and Course Community

  • The instructor maintains regular and substantive communication with students by sending weekly overview emails or announcements, reminding students of due dates, attempting to contact absent students, participating in course discussion boards, and holding virtual office hours.
  • The course design promotes regular and substantive interaction between students. This could be through discussion boards, group projects, peer review, collaborative activities, synchronous learning activities, and/or through apps that promote student-to-student communication.