These recommendations are designed to help faculty follow best practices in their teaching and ensure that your Department meets its obligations to students regarding delivery of instruction, as required by the U.S. Department of Education (USED) and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). These recommendations apply to all courses, whether web-enhanced, hybrid, or fully online.

Course Information Best Practices

  • An online course space is provided, maintained, and is accessible to all students in the course.
    The online course space is well-organized and easy to navigate, with no broken links, blank sections, or missing information.
  • Students are provided with clear instructions for finding and using the online course space.
  • The online course space displays contact information for the instructor and department, office hours, and instructor availability and response times.
  • The online course space contains clear and up-to-date course information, including syllabus with learning objectives, course schedule, and policies (including academic integrity, online etiquette, use of computer resources, participation, and grading policies).
  • The course schedule clearly indicates if and when any synchronous or in-person sessions will be held, the material being covered, and coursework requirements with clear deadlines and expectations for student participation.
  • The online course space provides information and guidance for using any required communication tools (e.g. video conferencing, discussion forum), recognizing students’ variable access to technology and the internet, both on campus and in remote learning environments.
  • The online course space provides links to useful information, including technical help, student support services, library resources, and other information appropriate to the discipline.

Course Content Best Practices

  • Instructional materials are provided for each class meeting or project milestone. Materials are current, easily accessed, and relevant to the course objectives. Use of open educational resources (OER) is strongly encouraged.
  • If instructional materials are presented synchronously (via video conferencing), recordings of class meetings, lecture slides, and/or notes are logically organized and presented for students who are unable to attend at that time.
  • All instructional materials meet the College’s accessibility standards and include materials in alternative formats when necessary.
  • All instructional materials comply with copyright law.
  • The coursework requirements comply with the College’s credit hour policy for in-person, hybrid, and online education.
  • Coursework includes scaffolded assignments designed to help students achieve the course learning objectives.
  • Students are provided with clear written instructions for each assignment that describe the assignment, when and how to submit it, and how it will be assessed and graded.
  • Assignments provide students with opportunities to work in multiple modes and media, to suit different learning preferences and take advantage of the features available in the online course space.
  • Students are given opportunities to share their work online and receive peer feedback.
  • Student work presented online complies with the College’s accessibility best practices.

Communications & Interactivity Best Practices

  • Instructor and students regularly use the online course space for asynchronous communications (discussions, blog posts, peer feedback, etc.).
  • At the beginning of the term, the instructor sets a welcoming tone and facilitates introductions.
  • The instructor routinely posts announcements in the online course space to provide students with useful information and help them stay on track.
  • The instructor takes an active role throughout the course, communicating with students as a group and individually, conducting discussions, and providing feedback, both graded and ungraded.
  • Students have frequent opportunities for interaction with other students and the instructor in the online course space, including group and class discussions. Communication activities are used to further student learning and/or build a sense of community among learners.
  • Students are provided with clear instructions for communication in the course’s online space, including when and how to post, and how their contributions will be assessed and graded.
  • Students are provided with clear instructions for participation during synchronous/video meetings, including preparation, contributions to discussions, and timeliness.
  • Instructor and student interactions comply with best practices for communicating online.

Assessment & Evaluation Best Practices

  • Feedback about student performance is provided in a timely manner throughout the course.
  • Multiple and varied assessment opportunities are included to create a record/baseline of performance over time. Opportunities for self-assessment are provided.
  • Students are provided with clear written instructions for any formal assessments (quizzes, projects, essays, exams), including when and how they will be conducted/collected, and how they will be graded. Accommodations are made as needed for student accessibility and other considerations.
  • Student privacy is respected when providing feedback and grades, in accordance with FERPA requirements.
  • Students are referred to appropriate support services when needed, such as tutoring, counseling, etc.
  • Students are encouraged to give feedback on course content, use of technology, and accessibility.