101 Online Course Framework Checklist

Online Course Framework Checklist 

This checklist can be used as a tool to help instructors develop an online course that has a pedagogically strong framework. The first section of this checklist addresses basic design aspects of the course such as learning objectives, assessments, lesson content, and more. In the second section of the checklist, there are tasks you can do to manage your course more effectively to provide a better online experience for both you and your students.

Designing your Course                                                                                                                                                   

  • Course Outline: Develop an outline for your content that lists the main headings, topics, and subtopics that you plan to cover.
  • Learning Objectives: List the learning objective(s) for each topic. Use measurable terms to describe the desired outcomes you want from your students after completing the course.
  • Lesson Mapping: Associate each topic to a learning objective.
  • Topic Assessment: Identify the way(s) you plan to check your students’ learning based on the learning objective(s).
    • Assignments: (1) Describe student task, activity, or project, (2) Identify what criteria you will use to grade it, (3) Determine whether the assignment is for individual submission (Assignment Tool) or to be shared with classmates (Discussions Tool).
    • Discussion Questions: (1) List the questions, (2) Identify what criteria you will use to grade each discussion topic.
    • Group Projects: (1) Describe the project, (2) Determine whether the completed product should be submitted individually by each student or a single submission as a group, (3) Identify what criteria you will use to grade it.
    • Test Questions: (1) In a separate document (unless it already exists online) write the test questions, (2) Provide the correct answer(s), (3) Identify how many points each question is worth, (4) Provide any reference information or feedback for each question/answer choice, if desired.
  • Topic Introduction: Introduce each topic & transition between topics. This might be a few sentences or paragraphs, an audio podcast, or a video recording. Identify to your students the learning objective for this topic.
  • Content: This is the core of your content (typically the content covered in a face-to-face class). You may choose one or multiple teaching strategies for presenting content.
    • Lecture Pages (Microsoft Word, PDF, HTML)
    • Lecture Recordings (MediaSpace, Online Video, Recorded PowerPoints)
    • Synchronous Lectures (Web Conferencing such as Zoom)
    • No Lectures/Seminar Format (Chat, Discussions, Zoom, Collaborative Activities)
    • Other (Alternatives methods for students to acquire and collect information.)
  • Topic Summary: Summarize the main point(s) of each topic. This might be a few sentences or many paragraphs, an audio podcast, or a video recording. Consider explaining why this information was important and/or how it links to what they will learn next.
  • Practice & Feedback: Create strong learning experiences by identifying ways that your students can practice/apply this new information from each topic. You may choose to combine topics into a practice activity. Make sure that you have incorporated methods to provide feedback.
    • Reflection Activities: Writing assignment, discussion, blog, case study, document observation, etc.
    • Visual Activities: Search visual examples, record videos, explore virtual sites, create concept maps, etc.
    • Hands-on Activities: Develop a presentation, engage in role-play, interact with simulations, etc.
    • Discussions: Engage students in asynchronous dialogue and apply what you have taught to new situations. Consider letting them dialog about topics they are interested in.
    • Interactive Activities: Add interactive activities (such as flashcards, games, etc.) for students to engage with the content and practice.
    • Practice Test: Provide practice tests for students to check their understanding with immediate built-in feedback.
    • Assignments: Have students submit a paper or presentation and provide feedback.
    • Group Projects: Create activities where students work in groups.
  • Additional Resources: Identify additional resources that students can refer to. Include any additional lessons or resources, if applicable, for pre-requisite instruction, additional practice, and/or advanced learning.
    • Glossary: Provide terminology.
    • Media: Provide images, audio, podcasts, video materials, etc.
    • Links: Have students review websites to see examples, additional information, and concepts presented in a different way.
    • Readings: Identify any supplemental articles and links to articles in the Library’s Electronic Reserves.
  • Course Wrap-Up: Create a topic or lesson devoted to summarizing your course. This is the conclusion to your course and should bring all the key points together and show the “big picture”. What can students take away from this course that will be useful for them in the future? Help them see the relevance.
 Managing your Course
  • Student Access: Determine when you want your students to first access your course. Do you need students to access materials or do work prior to the first day? (Default start date is the same in Banner.)
  • Pre-Course Survey: Administer a survey (if applicable) to learn more about your students before beginning class. What do they know and don’t know? What technology do they have access to? When do they plan to usually be online & doing work?
  • Syllabus: You will need to develop a syllabus specifically designed for your online course. (Convert the file to PDF or HTML format)
  • Welcome/Introduction: Create a course introduction either through text, audio, or video.
  • Course Tour: Provide information to students on how to navigate the course, introduce the technology, and include links to technical help and tutorials. Share this link to the Minnesota State, Mankato IT Solutions Center: https://mankato.mnsu.edu/it-solutions/
  • Expectations: Establish a clear understanding between students on your expectations of their online performance. Include instructions on what students should do when technology fails (because it will happen sometimes).
  • Instructor Presence: Be present and available from the beginning. Schedule time to be online and in the course to check student progress, answer questions and stay in touch with your students. Make a commitment to students on a reasonable response time on emails, graded assignments, etc.

This work is adapted from the Quality Online Course Framework Checklist  by the Center for Teaching Excellence, Southern Illinois University 8/27/2013.  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/.


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