Quality Review Process for Online Courses

Courses developed for electronic delivery (i.e., online courses) at UNT undergo a course design review prior to approval. The purpose of this initial review is to ensure that:

  • courses are complete and ready to be delivered by the time the semester begins,
  • that federal and state requirements are met, and
  • that these courses demonstrate best practices for online course design.

Why are online courses reviewed?

Meeting standards and following best practices are vital for continued delivery of online courses and programs as stated in the 19 TEX. ADMIN. CODE Chapter 4 Subchapter P: Approval of Distance Education Courses and Programs for Public Institutions and for accreditation as outlined by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) in its Distance Education and the Principles of Accreditation.

What is the focus of the review?

The review focuses on online course design. Course design is the forethought and planning that goes into teaching a course. It is separate from curriculum and content and also separate from the evaluation of teaching. The online course environment is very different from the traditional, face-to-face classroom. Standards for online course design address organization, navigation, and the alignment of the course author's content, activities, and objectives. They assist the faculty developer in thinking through and presenting to the student general expectations and strategies for success. Equally important, a deliberate and thoughtful organization of course content and activities along with a solid plan for communication and interaction can improve students' ability to focus on learning and reduce the course management burden of faculty.

What online course review standards are we using?

UNT selected the Quality Matters Rubric as a basis for the rubric it uses in reviewing courses prior to delivery. The Quality Matters Program continues to be a national benchmark for online course design with 800 subscribing institutions in 47 U.S. states and six countries. The rubric was originally developed in 2002 by faculty representing 19 different institutions. Every two years, a committee of 12 individuals (faculty, instructional designers, and QM staff) reviews and updates the rubric based on new research and practices.

Quality Review Rubric

The rubric used for UNT’s initial course design review defines standards in these broad areas:

  • Course Entry and Introductory Information
  • Design and Organization
  • Alignment
  • Interaction and Engagement
  • Accessibility
  • Copyright

The initial course design review provides faculty with a starting point in a continuous improvement process. CLEAR has defined criteria for four distinct levels of continuous improvement:

  • Provisional (All online courses should meet these criteria prior to first delivery)
  • Effective (All online courses should meet these criteria within six months of first delivery)
  • Exemplary (Optional - Course developers who aspire to have courses Quality Matters certified will be ready to move forward when they meet this level of the standards)
  • Outstanding (Optional - Course developers who aspire to apply for the Online Course and Teacher Award should be able to meet this level of the standards)