Course Design Checklist

When preparing for remote instruction or preparing an online course, there are recommend elements that ought to be present in the course design. This resource identifies those which are critical for student success.

We recommend using guidelines in the development of courses as they can help you become familiar with the various elements found in effective courses, regardless of delivery mode (e.g. face-to-face, online, blended, or remote delivery). One such guideline for course design is the Quality Matters Rubric. Its guidelines are based in research and frequently updated by the Quality Matters (QM) team. CITL, with permission from Quality Matters, has modified their Course Design Rubric to better reflect the educational and legislative policies of Canada.

When designing your course, or reviewing it before its release to students, you can use the rubric to check whether, and to what degree, you’ve addressed each of the standards and elements of a effectively designed course. The organization of the rubric is explained next.

Quality Guidelines for Courses

The Rubric is made up of eight general standards:

  1. Course Overview and Introduction
  2. Learning Outcomes (Competencies)
  3. Assessment and Measurement
  4. Instructional Materials
  5. Learning Activities and Learner Interaction
  6. Course Technology
  7. Learner Support
  8. Accessibility and Usability*

The eight standards of the rubric each have various points to consider and an indication of the degree of importance of each to the overall course design (and subsequent learning experience). We recommend that all elements ranked with 1 be included in your course. As many 2-ranked items be included as possible and attention paid to the remaining elements, ranked as 3.

A downloadable version of the CITL Quality Course Design Rubric is available for your use.

Quality Matters has recently developed a rubric for use by instructors who are preparing their traditional face-to-face courses for online delivery. This resource was published in March 2020, in part, in response to the academy’s transition to remote learning which resulted from the COVID19 pandemic. The QM Emergency Remote Instruction Checklist for Higher Education is available free of charge from Quality Matters.

CITL Quality Course Design Rubric

Use this rubric to identify pertinent elements that you need or ought to include in your course design. Their suggested importance is ranked as follows: 1 – critical; 2 – highly recommended; and 3 – recommended.

1: Course Overview and IntroductionImportance
1.1 – Instructions make clear how to get started and where to find various course components.1
1.2 – A statement introduces the student to the purpose of the course and to its components; in the case of a hybrid course, the statement clarifies the relationship between the face-to-face and online components.1
1.3 – Etiquette expectations (sometimes called “netiquette”) for online discussions, email, and other forms of communication are stated clearly.3
1.4 – The self-introduction by the instructor is appropriate and available online.2
1.5 – Students are asked to introduce themselves to the class.3
1.6 – Minimum student preparation, and, if applicable, prequisite knowledge in the discipline are clearly stated.3
1.7 – Minimum technical skills expected of the student are clearly stated.3
2: Learning Outcomes (Competencies)Importance
2.1 – The course learning outcomes are stated in measurable (assessable) terms.1
2.2 – The module learning outcomes are stated in measurable (assessable) terms which are consistent with the course-level outcomes.1
2.3 – All learning outcomes are stated clearly and written from the students’ perspective.1
2.4 – Instructions to students on how to meet the learning outcomes are adequate and stated clearly.1
2.5 – The learning outcomes are appropriately designed for the level of the course.2
3: Assessment and MeasurementImportance
3.1 – The types of assessments selected measure the stated learning outcomes and are consistent with course activities and resources.1
3.2 – The course grading policy is stated clearly.1
3.3 – Specific and descriptive criteria are provided for the evaluation of students’ work and participation.1
3.4 – The assessment instruments selected are sequenced, varied, and appropriate to the content being assessed.3
3.5 – “Self-check” or practice assignments are provided, with timely feedback to students, as appropriate.3
4: Resources and MaterialsImportance
4.1 – The instructional materials contribute to the achievement of the stated course and module learning outcomes.1
4.2 – The relationship between the instructional materials and learning activities is clearly explained to the student.1
4.3 – The instructional materials have sufficient breadth, depth, and currency for the student to learn the subject.2
4.4 – All resources and materials used in the course are appropriately cited.  1
5: Learner EngagementImportance
5.1 – The learning activities promote the achievement of the stated learning outcomes.1
5.2 – Learning activities foster instructor-student, and if appropriate to the course, student-student interaction.1
5.3 – Clear standards are set for instructor responsiveness and availability (turnaround time for email, grade posting, etc.).2
5.4 – The requirements for student interaction are clearly articulated.2
6: Course TechnologyImportance
6.1 – The tools and media support the learning outcomes, and are appropriately chosen to deliver the content of the course.1
6.2 – The tools and media support student engagement and guide the student to become an active learner.1
6.3 – Navigation throughout the online components of the course is logical, consistent, and efficient.1
6.4 – Students have ready access to the technologies required in the course.2
6.5 – The course components are compatible with current standards for delivery modes.3
6.6 – Instructions on how to access resources online are sufficient and easy to understand.3
6.7 – The course design takes full advantage of available tools and media.3
7: Learner SupportImportance
7.1 – The course instructions articulate or link to a clear description of the technical support offered.2
7.2 – Course instructions articulate or link to an explanation of how the institution’s academic support system can assist the student in effectively using the resources provided.3
7.3 – Course instructions articulate or link to an explanation of how the institution’s student support services can help students reach their educational goals.3
7.4 – Course instructions answer basic questions related to research, writing, technology, etc., or link to tutorials or other resources that provide the information.3
8: AccessibilityImportance
8.1 – The course incorporates accessibility standards and reflects conformance with institutional policy regarding accessibility.1
8.2 – Course pages and course materials provide equivalent alternatives to auditory and visual content.2
8.3 – Course pages have links that are self-describing and meaningful.2
8.4 – The course ensures screen readability.3

For areas where you would like more assistance, please consult the other sections of the Instructional Resources site. You can also contact CITL for a course design or teaching consultation. More information is found on the CITL Consultations Services page.