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Assess Your Course Design for Quality Practices

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August 25, 2015

by Dana Bodewes, Instructional Designer

magnifying glassWhether you are teaching a course for the first time or the fiftieth, it is good practice to take a step back and critically reflect on the design of one’s course. Faculty are undoubtedly the masters of their course content, but it can be beneficial to consider the best practices that contribute to the quality design of a course as well. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a simple checklist to help you review your course’s design? Well, read on…

In support of the PLUTO Institute and initiatives, PLU holds an institutional subscription to the Quality Matters (QM) Program. The program rubric contains 44 standards to assess the design of online and blended courses. Quality Matters standards are based on best practices and help to guide the development of quality courses while providing a process for peer review. With PLU’s subscription to Quality Matters, faculty may use (and modify) the standards for unofficial review purposes. If you are interested in seeing the Fifth Edition of the Quality Matters Rubric, it can be accessed from the Instructional Technologies site with your PLU ePass.

The QM Rubric is such a great tool for online and blended course design, I found myself wishing an equivalent existed for traditional courses. Last semester, I created a short and simple checklist for faculty to self-assess traditional on-campus courses in a way similar to Quality Matters. I pared it down to 25 best practices in the following categories: Course Introduction, Learning Objectives and Assessment, Instructional Materials and Activities, Course Technology, and Learner Support and Accessibility. The list intentionally errs on the side of brevity in order to provide a fast review of quality design indicators. Note that teaching of the course is not evaluated here; that would require a whole different type of rubric. About ⅔ of the standards are based on the Quality Matters Rubric and a few are original contributions.
As the semester begins, take a few moments to review this course quality design checklist to see how many best practices your courses contain. Or, consider attending an Instructional Technologies workshop on this topic from 12:30-1:30 on May 5, 2015. As always, consultations are also available for those who would like to discuss course design by contacting Instructional Technologies at

If you have any design standards to add to the list, or if you have a course review checklist that you know and love, please share in the comment section below.

Originally posted 2/15/2015 in PLU’s Instructional Technologies blog

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