SNU Online and Blended Course Design Standards

Criterion 1: Course Introduction and Overview

Instructions make clear how to get started and where to find course components.

  • Course name & number are prominently displayed at the top of the course.
  • Professor contact info. is clearly stated at the top of the course.
  • There is a self-introduction by the instructor. 
  • Learners are asked to introduce themselves to the class.
  • Instructions make clear how to get started and where to find various course components. Learners are introduced to the purpose and structure of the course (e.g. Welcome Video).
  • Netiquette for online discussions, email, and other forms of communication are clearly stated.
  • Course and/or institutional policies with which the learner is expected to comply are clearly stated, or a link to current policies is provided. 
  • Prerequisite knowledge in the discipline and/or any required competencies are clearly stated.

Blended Courses:

  • Instructions in the LMS make it clear to learners that the course is a blended course, with both online and on-ground components and activities.
  • The purpose of both the online and on-ground portions of the course is clearly explained to learners to help them understand how and why both formats are important to the learning process.
  • The course schedule lists both the online and on-ground portions of the course and clearly specifies the dates, times, and locations of on-ground class meetings.

Criterion 2: Learner Support

Materials provide an explanation of the institution’s resources that attribute to student success and how to access them.

  • A clear description of the institution’s support services (e.g., disability office, tech support, portal, bookstore) and how to obtain them is provided, including contact information for key personnel).
  • Links to academic support services and how to obtain them are provided (e.g., locations, operating hours, and contact information for proctored test sites).
  • A link to the institution's library is provided, including how to gain access to library materials and databases, and how to contact a librarian.
  • A link to the institution's accessibility policy, if a policy exists, is provided.
  • A Course Verification Choice  is provided, as appropriate to the course.
  • A Student Statement of Academic Integrity Quiz  is provided, as appropriate to the course.
  • Institutional policies, especially those specific to online (Federal Attendance, TEACH Act, and Withdrawal) are provided.

Criterion 3: Navigation & Ease of Use

Course navigation facilitates ease of use.

  • Assignments and discussion forums include all resources (rubric, points, due date, clear directions, etc.) necessary for completing and submitting work at point of need.
  • Consistent layout and design are employed throughout, making instructional materials, tools, and media easy to locate from anywhere in the course. Design elements are used repetitively, increasing predictability and intuitiveness.
  • Learning activities are presented in a logical learning progression.

Blended Courses: 

  • Assignments are clearly marked whether they are to be completed online or in the on-ground classroom.

Criterion 4: Outcomes & Objectives

The course learning outcomes & objectives are aligned, are stated in measurable terms, and can be assessed at the appropriate level.

  • The course and/or program outcomes are written in measurable terms, i.e., they begin with measurable action verbs.
  • The module/unit learning objectives are written in measurable terms.
  • The module/unit learning objectives are aligned with the course and/or program outcomes.
  • All measurable verbs correlate to the appropriate level on Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Blended Courses:

  • Outcomes and objectives are available online for all learning activities.

Criterion 5: Assessment & Measurement

Assessments measure the stated learning objectives.

  • The course grading policy is stated clearly. 
  • Points/percentages for all assignments are given along with a course total.
  • The LMS gradebook is visible to all learners.
  • Specific and descriptive criteria are provided for the evaluation of learners’ work and are tied to the course grading policy. 
  • Each module/unit learning objective aligns to at least one learning activity/assessment. The activities/assessments measure performance at the same Bloom’s level as the corresponding objective.
  • The requirements for learner interaction are clearly stated, e.g., discussion forum includes post dates, reply dates, word count and number of replies expected.
  • A link to a complete credit hour compliance sheet is provided, showing appropriate seat & homework hours for the number of credit hours being offered.

Criterion 6: Presence, Community, & Active Learning

Course includes purposeful opportunities for the instructor’s presence to be known.

  • Learning activities provide opportunities for interaction, support active learning, and create a sense of community.
    The instructor’s plan for prompt response times and assignment feedback is clearly stated. 
  • Instructor presence is planned throughout the course. Examples:
    • Welcome video
    • Weekly videos
    • Synchronous opportunities
  • Discussions and other collaborative activities are adequately paced, providing ample time for substantive dialogue.
  • The course provides collaborative opportunities for the students to build community, e.g., peer reviews, group discussions, group projects, team problem-solving.
  • Activities provide purposeful interaction and engagement among learners, instructor and content.
  • A variety of active learning opportunities are provided, e.g., PDAS (Prepare, Discover, Analyze, Share) strategy.

Criterion 7: Technology & Course Materials

Technologies and materials are readily obtainable, current, and promote active learning.

  • Technologies align with assignment and course objectives and support active learning, e.g., real-time collaboration apps, webinars, virtual reality, wikis, animations, games.
  • All required technologies (e.g., hardware, software, plugins) are easily obtainable, through download, purchase, or other means.
  • Directions for obtaining required technologies are provided.
  • Course materials contain minimal errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, word choice, and syntax. 
  • Document and page formatting is professional and consistent.
  • All course materials are current.
  • All links are active.
  • Course content contains a balanced mix of text, images, audio and video.

Blended Courses:

  • Instructions make clear which materials are to be used on-ground and which are specific to the online portion of the course.
  • The connection between online and on-ground activities is evident and clearly explained.

Criterion 8: Accessibility

The learning management system and course content are accessible to all learners.

  • Text is clearly distinguishable from the background, giving proper color contrast.
  • Font style and size are selected to maximize on-screen legibility; simpler fonts are chosen over more ornate fonts, and the number of font families is limited to one or two.
  • Colors alone are not relied upon to convey meaning. The meaning is also conveyed in another way.
  • Sufficient white space is provided to aid in comprehension and reduce eye fatigue that occurs with large blocks of text.
  • Images are appropriately sized and can be viewed in their entirety without scrolling.
  • Graphics and animations are used to enhance instructional materials and illustrate ideas without causing distractions.
  • Links, files and images are labeled with easy-to-understand, self-describing, and meaningful names. Images used as links are also labeled with meaningful text (not merely “Click Here”).
  • Files in the PDF format contain selectable and searchable text (not image scans) for screen reader compatibility.
  • Videos and animations are accurately captioned.
  • Audio recordings provide transcripts.
  • Long videos and audio files (longer than 10 minutes) are broken into shorter segments.
  • Multimedia elements provide user playback control.