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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Guidelines for Academic Online Courses

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The purpose of the following information is to provide academic departments with a tool to assist in the development of online courses. The decision of course readiness for online delivery is made by the academic department. Those guidelines are recommended for adoption by the Distance Learning Taskforce 12/07/2004.

For more information, contact:
Thomas Norman
Dean of University Extended Education
116 University Extended Education
Phone: 389-1443

Guidelines for Online Course Development

Designing an online course

In designing an online course, instructors must remember that technology is a tool, not a solution. The design of a good online course rests on the same foundation as the design for a face-to-face course: clear and coherent learning outcomes.

Are the learning outcomes/objectives for the course: Yes No Comments
1. Clearly stated      
2. Assessable      
3. Relevant to the course content      
4. Supported by course activities and assignments      
Is information about the course (course requirements, course activities, assignments, grading/evaluation, dates, policies, instructor information, etc.) Yes No Comments
a. Easily located      
b. Sufficient      
Does the course design: Yes No Comments
a. Maintain consistency in design      
b. Allow for clear progression through course requirements by the use of “modules” or some other form of course organizational pattern      
c. Allow for practice of skills or application of theories      
Does the technology and presentation used for the course: Yes No Comments
a. Allow for easy navigation through the course      
b. Provide sufficient student support and direction      
c. Provide access to students with disabilities      
d. Does course include information about technical skills, software, hardware and student readiness?      

Evaluation and Assessment in online courses

Once a course is designed, good online courses need a method to determine if students are learning what is intended. Evaluation and assessment need to be based on the stated and clear student learning outcomes/objectives, so that students know what is expected of them, and faculty can determine if students are learning what the course is designed to teach.

Evaluation and assessment in the course: Yes No Comments
a. Is linked to student learning outcomes/objectives      
b. Incorporates a variety of evaluation and assessment tools      
c. Takes into account varied student learning styles      
d. Shows a clear relationship between student performance and grades in the course      
e. Is both formative and summative      
f. Requires demonstration of direct student learning      
g. Allows for sufficient and timely feedback to the student      
h. Provides the instructor with sufficient information for course improvement      

Teaching and Learning in online courses

The technology available to online instructors and students plays an important role in the online classroom. Technology needs to be used and designed to aid in teaching and learning, not to get in the way of teaching and learning.

Technology enhances teaching and learning in the course by: Yes No Comments
a. Using available tools to support teaching and learning, such as e-mail, discussion, chat, assessments, surveys, quizzes, links, online materials, etc.      
b. Having a clear relationship to the student learning outcomes      
c. Providing links to students for necessary software and plug-ins      
d. Encourages student/faculty and student/student interaction through appropriate distance and electronic modalities.      
Course materials used in the course:      
a. Are relevant to the learning outcomes      
b. Are accessible on dial-up accounts      
c. Are viewable using a variety of browsers      
d. Are compatible with multiple platforms      

Resource Assistance

The following are avenues of assistance that are recommended and should be considered to help accomplish the goals of online education.

Area of recommended assistance obtained or needed: Should definitely consider assistance from this area May benefit from assistance from this area Adequately indicated these areas of assistance have already been considered Comments
a. Assessment
Avra Johnson 389-1333
b. Program Development
Instructional Designer
Judith Luebke 389-5938
c. Marketing
Pamela Baker 389-5117
University Extended Education
d. Funding
Pat Lipetzky 389-1094
University Extended Education
e. Library Resources
Paul Wyss 389-2258
f. Disability Services
Julie Snow 389-1819
g. D2L Instructional Support Specialist
Jeff Henline 389-2323
h. Multimedia Assistance
Jerry Anderson 389-6921
i. Online Faculty Learning Community /Online Course Peer Review
Judith Luebke 389-5938
j. ITS
Instructional Designer
Marni Dunning 389-5892
Instructional Designer
Linda Jacoby 389-5817