These research-based standards are used to design online and hybrid courses and assess online course quality at Northern Illinois University. All new and redeveloped courses are expected to meet essential standards and are strongly encouraged to meet exemplary standards. We support and partner with faculty to ensure standards are met. Courses that meet all noted essential standards are recognized as NIU quality essentials courses.
The overall design of the course is made clear to the learner at the beginning of the course. The course overview and introduction set the tone for the course, let learners know what to expect, and provide other guidance to help learners succeed from the outset.
Learning objectives or competencies describe what learners will be able to do upon completion of the course. The learning objectives or competencies establish a foundation upon which the rest of the course is based.
Assessments are integral to the learning process and are designed to evaluate learner progress in achieving the stated learning objectives or mastering the competencies. Assessment is implemented in a matter that corresponds to the course learning objectives or competencies and not only allows the instructor a broad perspective on the learners’ mastery of content, but also allows learners to track their learning progress throughout the course.
Materials for online and hybrid classes should be created for the audience of online and hybrid students. Online students feel at a disadvantage when they are merely given recording of on-campus activities or lectures. Instructional materials should prepare students for assessments. Research shows that using best practices for presenting instructional materials helps students learn more effectively (for example, using active learning strategies, where students perform meaningful actions involving course content and then reflect on learning).
Learning activities facilitate and support learner interaction and engagement. Course components that promote active learning contribute to the learning process and to learner persistence.
Course technologies support learners’ achievement of course objectives or competencies. The technologies enabling the various tools used in the course facilitate rather than impede the learning process.
The course facilitates learner access to institutional support services essential to learner success.
The course design reflects a commitment to accessibility and usability for all learners. The course design utilizes the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and reflects a commitment to accessibility, ensuring all learners can access all course content and activities, and to usability, ensuring all learners can easily navigate and interact with course components.