VCC Quality Assurance Checklist
This checklist highlights the recommended dimensions that contribute to a quality online course. The more of the ‘Good’ and ‘Better’ dimensions your course incorporates, the better the student experience will be.
The checklist is intended to be used to self-audit an online course prior to launch and during course delivery. It can also be used as a guide when designing and developing a course. It is iterative – your course may not check all the boxes first time around, but as you review and update your course, you can take the opportunity to add extra dimensions of quality.
Links to Knowledge Base (KB) articles, CTLR Moodle Training resources, and useful third-party resources are included in the online version of the checklist. These articles and resources are intended to help you achieve the dimension in the checklist.
These are the settings and specifications you need to be aware of in your Moodle course shells to ensure course quality.
- Course name and short name are correct. (see KB1150)
- Unused template content has been removed or hidden from student view.
- Course has been viewed in Student role. (see KB1175)
- Start and End Dates of the course are set. (see KB1026 and KB1180)
- Course visibility is set to ‘Show’. (see KB1097)
- Enrolment method has been selected. (see KB1103). If an enrolment key is being used, make sure the key you provided matches the one in your course. Check-in early with students to make sure they are able to enrol in your course.
- Moodle Gradebook has been tested. (see KB1031)
- Course is appropriately tagged. (see KB1178)
Course Structure and Layout
The structure and layout of your course has a big impact on how well students engage and how successful the course will be.
- Navigation is clear, logical, consistent and efficient.
- Learning materials are ‘chunked’, e.g. divided into topics or weeks. (see KB1079).
- The distinction between required and optional materials is clear.
- Assignments/activities are distributed throughout the course.
- All links have been tested and work as expected.
- All videos and audio files have been tested and work as expected.
- All downloadable files have been tested and work as expected.
- Text colour, font size and type are consistent.
- ‘True’ headings/formatting styles are used (e.g. don’t bold text for headings).
- Graphics and images are relevant to the course content.
- Course adheres to your department’s overall style.
- A Course Announcements forum is used to communicate with students.
- Blocks are used effectively in the course. (see KB1019).
- A range of tools is used to support course activities and assignments.
- Images are of a similar style (e.g. all photos or all line drawings).
Accessibility and Universal Design for Learning
Accessibility and UDL are very important dimensions to consider. We have created separate detailed checklists for both.
- All learning materials are accessible. (see Creating Accessible Learning Resources).
- If accessibility of a resource is not practicable, an alternative is available.
- Students can readily access the tools and technologies necessary to participate fully in the course.
- The Accessibility Checklist and UDL Checklist have been completed.
This is your opportunity to set guidelines and expectations for the students at the start of your online course.
- Course includes welcome message, e.g. text/video (see 4 easy ways to welcome students to your online course for tips).
- A course orientation/overview section is included.
- Structure/sequence of course, including recommended starting point, is explained.
- Course syllabus and calendar are included.
- Learning outcomes are clearly stated and written from the learner’s perspective.
- Learning outcomes are specific, well-defined, and measurable. (see Writing Good Learning Outcomes)
- Course includes details of how to contact the Instructor, including office hours/availability and preferred contact method.
- Course description/intro includes purpose of the course and any prerequisites.
- Online etiquette ('netiquette') expectations for students are clearly laid out.
- Students are made aware of relevant VCC policies and ethical expectations.
- Grading criteria and weighting are presented.
- Estimated course length is given.
- Any specific technology requirements needed to be successful in the course are clearly stated and supported with resources.
- Students are invited to share/make note of their own learning goals.
- Students are informed of where to find additional help, e.g. Learning Centre, Disability Services, Advising.
- More than one way is available for students to contact the instructor.
Online courses contain Assessments to measure students' learning, Activities that students can interact with, and Resources that they can read or watch. A quality course contains a good balance of all three.
- Course assessments and assignments contain clear instructions.
- All assessments measure one or more of the learning outcomes (see Aligning Objectives, Assessments, and Learning Materials Using Backward Design).
- Each graded activity includes clear evaluation criteria.
- Assessment methods are appropriate to the outcome being assessed (see Best Practices for Online Assessment).
- There are multiple opportunities for instructor feedback on student learning.
- Feedback is prompt and constructive.
- Acknowldegement feedback is included, e.g. students can see when a submission has been received.
- Self-check (formative) assessments are included – learners have multiple opportunities to measure their own learning progress.
- Rubrics are provided to help students understand how they will be assessed.
- Assessment/assignment tasks are presented in a realistic context.
- Learners have access to a well-designed gradebook and can keep track of their grades as they progress through the course.
- VCC policy on plagiarism and cheating is referenced.
- A variety of assessment methods and types is included.
- Acceptable formats for submissions are articulated. More than one format is accepted.
- Samples of completed assignments are provided.
- Students are encouraged to self-reflect on their learning throughout the course.
- Simulations and higher-order assessment tools are used.
- Technologies to help ensure academic integrity are used for graded assessments, if appropriate.
Activities and Resources
- Materials and resources are current, relevant, and qualified.
- Materials are free from spelling and grammatical errors.
- Course activities contain clear instructions.
- All learning activities and resources promote the achievement of the learning outcomes (see Aligning Objectives, Assessments, and Learning Materials Using Backward Design).
- Students are provided with adequate time to review course materials.
- All 3rd-party resources are appropriately cited and credited.
- Where necessary, copyright clearance has been requested and granted.
- Videos are embedded from Kaltura or another online streaming site, and are not uploaded directly to the Moodle course.
- Where students are expected to use cloud-based tools in the course, the Consent to Use Cloud-Based Tools has been included, as well as information for using social media/cloud-based tools safely. (see Privacy and Social Media: A Guide for Faculty).
- OER are available instead of for-purchase learning materials.
- Learning materials are usable on multiple platforms (pc or mac, tablet, phone). Excessive scrolling is avoided on smaller screens, horizontal scrolling is not required, fonts can be read on a smaller screen.
- Instructor notes and resources are included so that another instructor can deliver the course if required.
Interaction and Communication
An important factor is the way students are encouraged to interact with each other, with the instructor, and with the learning materials.
- Students are given the chance to introduce themselves at the start of the course.
- Information is provided to guide students on how to be successful online learners, e.g. referring them to the Online Learner Success Express course.
- Students are provided with the opportunity to contribute to class materials and resources, e.g. student-led sessions, student-led forum discussions.
- Instructor provides regular announcements, reminders, updates and summaries.
- Course design fosters student-to-student and student-to-instructor interactions.
- A schedule of chat or face-to-face times, where students can contact the instructor or interact with each other in real time, is included.
- Course has an FAQ of student questions (updated as more questions are asked) so that answers to individual students can be shared with the group.
- Students are encouraged to hold virtual study sessions themselves.
- Group activities and/or assignments are included.
- Students have the opportunity to respond to each others’ work.
Evaluation and Improvement
Lastly, there needs to be a way to gather feedback so that courses can continue to be improved.
- A student feedback survey is included at the end of the course.
- Learners have multiple opportunities to provide descriptive feedback on course design, course content, course experience, and ease of use of technology.
- A course upgrade plan has been developed – the course will be revised and updated prior to each new session, incorporating feedback from previous students and peer reviewers - Updating Online Courses: 7 Keys To Success has some handy tips.