Course Development Standards

To assist faculty with designing online courses, our instructional design team has assembled a set of course development standards. These standards are based on the Quality Matters Rubric, which is the national benchmark for higher education online course design. Our team will work with you to incorporate these standards into your distance learning course and answer questions throughout the development process. When the development of a distance learning course is complete, a member of our instructional design team will conduct a review using these standards. We recommend referencing these standards to assist you during the design and development of your course. Learn more about Quality Matters and their development opportunities, or view a PDF of the course development standards at the bottom of this page.

Course Overview Standards


Course Overview & Introduction

The overall design of the course is made clear to the student at the beginning of the course.


Instructions indicating how to start the course are clear and the navigation of online components is logical.


Students are introduced to the purpose and structure of the course.

Learning Objectives

Learning objectives are measurable and are clearly stated.


The course learning objectives describe outcomes that are measurable, are written from the students’ perspective, and are appropriately designed for the level of the course.


The module/unit learning objectives describe outcomes that are measurable and consistent with the course-level objectives.

Assessment & Measurement

Assessment strategies are designed to be evaluations of progress, competency measures, and tools to measure understanding of stated learning objectives.


The types of assessments selected measure the stated learning objectives and are consistent with course activities and resources.


The course grading policy is stated clearly.


Specific and descriptive criteria are provided for the evaluation of students’ work and participation and are tied to the course grading policy.

Instructional Materials

Instructional materials are sufficiently comprehensive to achieve stated course objectives and learning outcomes.


The instructional materials contribute to the achievement of the stated course and module/unit learning objectives.

Learner Interaction & Engagement

Course activities facilitate learner interaction and engagement.


The learning activities promote the achievement of the stated learning objectives.


Learning activities provide opportunities for interaction that support active learning.


The instructor’s plan for classroom response time and feedback on assignments is clearly stated.

Course Technology

Course technology supports student engagement, achievement, and ensures interaction with course components.


The tools and media support the course learning objectives.


Course tools and media support student engagement and guide the student to become an active learner.

Learner Support

The course facilitates student access to institutional support services essential to student success.


The course instructions articulate and link to a clear description of the technical support offered and how to access it; including the Disability Resource Center, Health/Counseling Services, and the UK Accessibility Policy.

Accessibility and Usability

The course demonstrates a commitment to accessibility and student-centered usability for all students.


Course instructions and structure support the needs of a diverse student population and ensure ease of access for all learners. Course utilizes effective instructional pedagogy and design to enable student success and achievement.


Course provides alternate means of access to course materials in formats that meet the needs of all students, and information is provides about the accessibility off all technologies required in the course.



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