There are several standards that are used to evaluate quality in online education, some of these have been around and in use for years. I would like to identify some of them here:
A Quality Scorecard for the Administration of Online Higher Education Programs
Evaluation is based upon:
Course Development and Instructional Design
Teaching and Learning
Social and Student Engagement
Evaluation and Assessment
The Illinois Online Network uses the following dimensions in their rubric:
Communication, Interaction, and Collaboration
Student Evaluation and Assessment
Learner Support and Resources
The Online Course Evaluation Project (OCEP) identifies and evaluates existing online courses in higher education, Advanced Placement, and high school. The goal of OCEP is to provide the academic community with a criteria-based evaluation tool to assess and compare the quality of online courses.
Course Developer and Distribution: Models
This section notes the type and status of the course developer, the major methods for distribution of the courses to the organization’s constituents, and any licensing models employed by the developer in making the course content available to students and faculty outside their own institution. Breadth of coverage refers to the completeness of the course content and the degree to which the curriculum adheres to standard curriculum requirements as defined by AP standards from the College Board, the national high school curriculum standards or generally accepted higher education curriculum
Scope and Scholarship
This section focuses on the intended audience for the course, as well as the breadth and depth of the content presentation. It also looks at the quality and accuracy of the writing and how the course concepts are presented to the learner. This section is always addressed by a subject matter expert in the discipline.
The User Interface section includes evaluation categories that address the instructional design principles used in the access, navigation and display of the course that allows the user tointeract with the content. This includes aspects of a computer system or program which can be seen or heard by the user and the commands and mechanisms provided for the user to control its operation and data input.
Course Features and Media Values
The Course Features and Media Values section addresses the types of media used to convey the course content and to demonstrate how the user interacts with the content presentation. The evaluation looks at the effectiveness and relevance of the content presentation, the level of engagement for the user, and the instructional design value of the multimedia content.
Assessments and Support Materials
The Assessments and Support Materials section addresses the availability and types of assessments (complete tests or other activities used to assess student comprehension) and support materials that accompany the course as a resource for the instructor and the student.
Communication Tools and Interaction
The Communication Tools and Interaction section addresses the course management environment, how communications take place between instructors, students and their peers, and what course content exists to effectively utilize the communication tools provided by the CMS. Since most course management environments include the functionality noted in the evaluation categories, the emphasis for this review is placed on the course content designed to drive the use of the communication tools (threaded discussion, chat, group or bulletin board activities, etc.).
Technology Requirements and Interoperability
The Technology Requirements and Interoperability section addresses the technology and distribution issues related to the course, as well as the system and software requirements,
operating systems, servers, browsers and applications or plugins. The section also includes an evaluation of the accessibility and interoperability standards applied to the course and course content.
This section gives the course developer an opportunity to highlight unique features of the course, provide a summary of course outcomes per available information, and clarify other course resources.
The standards selected are based on the original standards, the results of a research review and survey of online course quality criteria. These quality standards were evaluated and assembled into an easy to use document for evaluating online courses with common benchmarks.
Section A: Content
Description: The course provides online learners with multiple ways of engaging with learning
experiences that promote their mastery of content and are aligned with state or national content
Section B: Instructional Design
Description: The course uses learning activities that engage students in active learning; provides
students with multiple learning paths to master; the content is based on student needs; and
provides ample opportunities for interaction and communication — student to student, student to
instructor and instructor to student.
Section C: Student Assessment
Description: The course uses multiple strategies and activities to assess student readiness for and
progress in course content and provides students with feedback on their progress.
Section D: Technology
Description: The course takes full advantage of a variety of technology tools, has a user-friendly
interface and meets accessibility standards for interoperability and access for learners with special
Section E: Course Evaluation and Support
Description: The course is evaluated regularly for effectiveness, using a variety of assessment
strategies, and the findings are used as a basis for improvement. The course is kept up to date,
both in content and in the application of new research on course design and technologies. Online
instructors and their students are prepared to teach and learn in an online environment and are
provided support during the course.
CSU Chico: What does a high quality online course look like? It is our hope that instructors and instructional designers will use this site to learn more about the Rubric for Online Instruction, and be able to view examples of exemplary courses that instructors have done in implementing the different components of the rubric.
Learner Support & Resources
Learner Support & Resources contains three criteria in which a course can be deemed exemplary. These three criteria are shown below in the three rankings of baseline, effective, and exemplary.
Online Organization & Design
Online Organization & Design contains five criteria in which a course can be deemed exemplary. These five criteria are shown below in the three rankings of baseline, effective, and exemplary.
Instructional Design & Delivery
Instructional Design & Delivery contains five criteria in which a course can be deemed exemplary. These five criteria are shown below in the three rankings of baseline, effective, and exemplary.
Assessment & Evaluation of Student Learning
Assessment & Evaluation of Student Learning contains five criteria in which a course can be deemed exemplary. These five criteria are shown below in the three rankings of baseline, effective, and exemplary.
Innovative Teaching with Technology
Innovative Teaching with Technology contains four criteria in which a course can be deemed exemplary. These four criteria are shown below in the three rankings of baseline, effective, and exemplary.
Faculty Use of Student Feedback
Faculty Use of Student Feedback contains three criteria in which a course can be deemed exemplary. These three criteria are shown below in the three rankings of baseline, effective, and exemplary.
The Quality Assurance e-Learning Design Standards are intended to provide a measure of quality assurance for online courses in order to serve the e-learning needs of Penn State students. These standards are directed to departments and colleges that wish to share online courses with other campuses or with students external to a Penn State geographic location via Penn State’s World Campus or e-Learning Cooperative.
The course has a consistent and intuitive navigation system enabling students to quickly locate course information and materials.
2. Student Orientation
A course orientation is used to familiarize the students with the course.
Students have easy access to a course syllabus which contains crucial course information and requirements they need to know about the course prior to starting.
4. Instructor Response and Availability
Instructor response time and availability is clearly communicated to the student.
5. Course Resource Requirements
Hardware, software, or specialized resources required are clearly communicated to the students.
6. Technical Support
Information regarding access to technical support is clearly communicated to the students.
7. Accessibility Requirements
The course adheres to University policies and guidelines regarding accessibility.
8. Learning Object
The course contains learning goals and objectives.
9. Learning Activities and Assessment
The course learning activities and assessment serve to stimulate student interactions with the course content and determine how well student performance achieves the course goals and learning objectives.
10. Copyright Requirements
The online course adheres to the current University policies for the use of third party copyrighted material or is able to provide evidence of appropriate copyright clearance.
11. Course Functionality
All aspects of the course perform properly and support student progress.
12. Student Input for Course Improvements
Opportunities are provided to gather input from students on an on-going basis in order to inform course improvements.