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Washington State University

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We are here to help!

A team of experts to guide the development of high quality online courses, founded on best practices, incorporating rich engaging media and ensuring compliance with all legal requirement.

Our goal is to make teaching online as easy as possible and learning online a rich, engaging experience.

Course Design Standards for an Exemplary Course

Structure

Students should be able to navigate course spaces easily, finding the content, expectations, due dates, etc., as effortlessly as possible so as not to detract from learning.  As course spaces are copied over from one term to the next, maintaining information in one location decreases the chances of not updating a critical piece of information (such as a due date).

  • Course uses the Global Campus (GC) template.
  • Menu navigation follows GC template.
  • Dates are located only on the course schedule and the course schedule includes all pertinent due dates.
  • Course content is structured so that faculty initiate student engagement in the course space at least weekly.
  • Prior to the start of the course, student will have access to course prerequisites, textbooks titles, course goals and objectives, course work description, tech requirements, media, and/or special requirements online.
  • Course space and structure (students understand where to look) allows instructor and students to post resources and notes during the delivery of the course—i.e., current events.
  • The course structure ensures that student participation, interaction, and assessed performance remain confidential.

Each Course Contains a Detailed Syllabus

Students in online courses need clearly articulated instructions, expectations, directions, etc.  Ample course details will reduce questions, confusion, and frustration.  Think about the questions the students ask in the classroom when you introduce an assignment, or an exam is on the horizon, and add all that detail to your online course and syllabus:

  • The WSU catalog description.
  • The name and contact information for the faculty member.
  • Required and optional course materials and associated costs.
  • The course overview, and course goals and objectives.
  • The course goals and objectives are measurable and written so that students can demonstrate mastery of them. They clearly state what the participants will know or be able to do at the end of the course.
  • An overview of all course assignments (course work section of the syllabus).
  • Stated alignment between the assignments, assessments, and course goals and outcomes.
  • Late work policy.
  • Incomplete grade policy.
  • Grading tables: what is graded in the course and the point value, and percentage as related to final grade (Does not require two tables.).
  • An instructor interaction section that details when the instructor will be in the course space, how quickly students can expect answers to questions and email, discussion responses, and grades to be posted.
    • Faculty are expected to respond to student questions and emails within 24 hours.
  • All University required syllabus content (e.g., accessibility, academic integrity, etc.) are populated by Global Campus.
  • Recommended policies (e.g., tech support information, student support resources such as the libraries and tutoring) are populated by Global Campus.

Course Goals, Outcomes, and General Content

Engaging students with content is enhanced through inclusion of media rich presentations, interactive activity, robust discussion, and variety in presentation of content.

  • The course contains a home page that provides a course overview and the goals and outcomes of the course.
  • Each lesson has an overview that includes:
    • The course goals delivered in the lesson.
    • The purpose of the lesson, why it is important and how it fits with the rest of the course.
    • All educational activities conducted within the lesson in the form of Your To Do List.
    • State alignment between lesson content, activities and assignments, and course goals.
  • Course goals and outcomes are delivered through at least two types of resources—text, audio, video, graphics, interactive animation).
  • If there is an external resource listed, all necessary instructional resources and/or directions for access of external resources and use for each assignment are provided in the course space.
  • All reasonable efforts have been made to check materials (graphics, learning resources, articles, etc.) in the course space for copyright approval.
  • All course content is ADA accessible.

Building a Learning Community

Faculty-to-Student and Student-to-Student Interaction

Learning is a social process and enhanced when it happens in a collaborative community.  It is important to connect students to faculty and students to students, to develop social, cognitive, and teaching presence.

  • Faculty presence is a core component of a successful online course. Your students need to know who you are –
    • Post an introduction
    • Use audio and video, or an image of yourself to personalize the course space
    • Be yourself
  • Faculty members provide at least two options for student-to-faculty interaction: discussion boards, email, telephone, instant messaging, or chat rooms, etc.
  • Regular and substantive interaction (RSI) between instructors and students is a core component of the federal definitions distinguishing distance education from correspondence education. Faculty are required to initiate interaction with their students.
  • The course will include at least one content-related community building activity (content-related discussion forum, group activities, etc.) (multiple are recommended).
  • The course includes a student introduction activity in which the instructor participates as well.
  • The course includes a discussion board.

Discussion boards include:

  • Announcements from the instructor (or the instructor uses the LMS announcement feature).
  • Questions for instructor.
  • Virtual Mentor forum (when appropriate).
  • Content-related forums (by unit or topic). It is strongly recommended that faculty engage with students via the content-oriented discussion boards.

Assignments and Assessment, Feedback and Grading

  • There is stated alignment between course assessments and the course goals and objectives.
  • Each course goal and outcome is assessed at least two separate times, in at least two different ways (including, but not limited to, threaded discussions, quizzes, papers, exams, group work).
  • Course includes at least two activities that require students to analyze, evaluate, and/or interpret various types of information and resources—news coverage, original documents, video, web pages (Higher Order Thinking).
  • The course includes at least one activity that requires students to locate, evaluate, and use information not preselected by the instructor (Ex., Research paper, finding resources to share with peers via the discussion board, finding info to refute or support different aspects of an issue.).
  • Course requires students to complete at least three different types of graded assessments (including, but not limited to, threaded discussions, exams, online group work, and written essays).
  • Course assignments and activities are structured so that students receive feedback and/or grades from faculty members at least weekly. Students cannot move forward with work unless they know that they are moving in the right direction.
  • A grading rubric is included for each graded assignment.
  • Course includes opportunity for low stakes and self-assessment.
  • Course includes a proctored exam or activity (e.g., web conference meeting).