The Online Education Initiative (OEI) is a collaborative effort among California Community
Colleges (CCCs) to ensure that significantly more students are able to complete their
educational goals by increasing both access to and success in high-quality online courses.
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Revisions approved by the Online Education Initiative Steering Committee November 18, 2016.
COURSE
DESIGN
RUBRIC
The OEI Course Design Rubric was developed in 2014 by the OEI Professional
Development work group to assure that all courses offered as part of the initiative promote
student success and meet existing regulatory and accreditation requirements. It has undergone
three major revisions since then, including the current iteration, in response to changes in
available instructional technology and feedback from both instructors and reviewers.
For a course to be offered to students in the CCC Course Exchange, it must first go through a
course review process that ensures alignment with the OEI Course Design Rubric. The Rubric
is divided into five sections.
SECTIONS A-C
Section A: Content Presentation
The 13 elements for quality course design in this section address how content is
organized and accessed in the course management system. Key elements include
course navigation, learning objectives, and access to student support information.
Section B: Interaction
The 8 elements in this section address instructor initiated and student initiated
communication. Key elements of quality course design covered in this section include
regular effective contact, student-to-student collaboration, and communication activities
that build a sense of community among online learners.
Section C: Assessment
The 8 elements in this section address the variety and effectiveness of assessments
within the course. Key elements include the alignment of objectives and assessments,
the clarity of instructions for completing assessments, and evidence of timely and regular
feedback.
Following a review by a team of trained faculty peer reviewers, each element in Sections A-C
will be marked in one of three ways:
Incomplete:
The element is missing or present to a degree that does not adequately support student
success in online learning.
Exchange Ready:
The element is present and effectively designed to support student success in online
learning.
Additional Exemplary Elements:
This designation recognizes design choices that further enhance the student experience
in the online learning environment.
Review Results
If any element in Section A-C is Incomplete, the instructor will receive on-going support from a
dedicated Course Design Specialist to bring the element(s) into alignment with the rubric.
SECTION D
Accessibility
The 23 elements in this section are reviewed to determine if a student using assistive
technologies will be able to access course content as required by Section 508 of the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (also known as “508 Compliance”).
Since Section D addresses elements that are required by law to be present, the
elements in this section can only be marked as Incomplete or Exchange Ready.
Review Results
If any element in Section D is Incomplete, the instructor will receive on-going support from a
dedicated Course Design Specialist or an Accessibility Expert to bring the element(s) into
alignment with the rubric.
SECTION E
Institutional Accessibility Concerns
The 4 elements in this section cover accessibility of external tools and third-party
content. While the accessibility elements in Section D are primarily under the control of
faculty when developing a course, the elements in Section E may be outside the purview
of the instructor which would require additional consideration or intervention at the
institutional level.
Review Results
If a course is Exchange Ready in all Sections except E, the OEI Chief Professional
Development Officer and the Director of Accessibility will look at the specific accessibility
issue(s) and work with the instructor on a plan for making the course accessible.
Creative Commons Licensed Content
In addition to preparing courses for the CCC Course Exchange, the OEI Course Design Rubric
is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License and can be used as:
A roadmap for instructors designing new online courses.
A tool for instructors seeking to update or improve existing courses.
The foundation for starting a local POCR (Peer Online Course Review) Club.
Visit ccconlineed.org
for more information on the OEI, the Rubric, and the Course Review
Process. We welcome your feedback and suggestions.
Table of Sections
Section A: Content Presentation ....................................................................................................................... 6
A1: Placement of Unit-level Objectives ....................................................................................................... 6
A2: Clarity of Unit-level Objectives .............................................................................................................. 6
A3: Alignment of Unit-level Objectives ........................................................................................................ 6
A4: Course Navigation ................................................................................................................................ 7
A5: Unit-Level Chunking ............................................................................................................................. 7
A6: Page-Level Chunking ........................................................................................................................... 7
A7: Effective Use of CMS Tools .................................................................................................................. 8
A8: Student Centered Teaching .................................................................................................................. 8
A9: Instructions ........................................................................................................................................... 8
A10: Individualized Learning ....................................................................................................................... 8
A11: Learner Feedback ............................................................................................................................... 9
A12: Institutional policies ............................................................................................................................. 9
A13: Student Services ................................................................................................................................. 9
Section B: Interaction ....................................................................................................................................... 10
B1: Learner Feedback ............................................................................................................................... 10
B2: Instructor initiated contact ................................................................................................................... 10
B3: Technology Support ............................................................................................................................ 10
B4: Instructor contact info ......................................................................................................................... 10
B5: Student initiated Interaction ................................................................................................................ 11
B6: Student Collaboration ......................................................................................................................... 11
B7: Learning Community ........................................................................................................................... 11
B8: Participation Levels ............................................................................................................................. 11
Section C: Assessment .................................................................................................................................... 12
C1: Authenticity ......................................................................................................................................... 12
C2: Validity ................................................................................................................................................ 12
C3: Variety ................................................................................................................................................ 12
C4: Frequency ........................................................................................................................................... 12
C5: Rubrics/ Scoring Guide ....................................................................................................................... 13
C6: Assessment Instructions ..................................................................................................................... 13
C7: Feedback ............................................................................................................................................ 13
C8: Self Assessment ................................................................................................................................. 13
Section D: Accessibility Content Pages ...................................................................................................... 14
D1: Heading Styles ................................................................................................................................... 14
D2: Lists .................................................................................................................................................... 14
D3: Links ................................................................................................................................................... 14
D4: Tables ................................................................................................................................................. 14
D5: Color Contrast .................................................................................................................................... 14
D6: Color and meaning ............................................................................................................................. 14
D7: Images ................................................................................................................................................ 14
Section D: Accessibility Files ....................................................................................................................... 15
D8: Heading Styles ................................................................................................................................... 15
D9: Lists .................................................................................................................................................... 15
D10: Links ................................................................................................................................................. 15
D11: Tables ............................................................................................................................................... 15
D12: Color Contrast .................................................................................................................................. 15
D13: Color and meaning ........................................................................................................................... 15
D14: Images .............................................................................................................................................. 15
D15: Digital Reading Order ....................................................................................................................... 16
D16: Digital Presentations ......................................................................................................................... 16
D17: PDFs ................................................................................................................................................. 16
D18: Spreadsheets ................................................................................................................................... 16
Section D: Accessibility Multimedia ............................................................................................................ 17
D19: Audio and Video ............................................................................................................................... 17
D20: Live Broadcast .................................................................................................................................. 17
D21: Auto-Play .......................................................................................................................................... 17
D22: Flashing Content .............................................................................................................................. 17
Section D: Accessibility Accommodation ................................................................................................... 18
D23: Instructional Materials Inventory ....................................................................................................... 18
Section E: Institutional Accessibility Concerns ............................................................................................ 19
E1: LTI/Apps ............................................................................................................................................. 19
E2: Media Players ..................................................................................................................................... 19
E3: Websites ............................................................................................................................................. 19
E4: Publisher Content ............................................................................................................................... 19
Section A: Content Presentation
Incomplete Exchange Ready
Additional
Exemplary Elements
A1: Placement of Unit-level Objectives
Objectives are not
included in individual
learning units/modules.
Objectives are included in
the individual learning
units/modules.
Objectives are included in
assessments.
A2: Clarity of Unit-level Objectives
Objectives do not include
demonstrable learning
outcomes.
Objectives include
demonstrable learning
outcomes.
Objectives are written in
language that is student
centered.
A3: Alignment of Unit-level Objectives
Unit content and activities
are not aligned with unit
objectives.
Unit content and activities
are aligned with unit
objectives.
The connection between
the content/activities and
the unit objectives are
made explicitly clear to the
students.
Criteria A1 A3 Comments:
Section A: Content Presentation
Incomplete Exchange Ready
Additional
Exemplary Elements
A4: Course Navigation
Navigation and content
flow are not easily
determined.
Navigation and content
flow are easily determined
by the user.
Clearly labeled tutorial
materials that explain how
to navigate the specific
course are included.
A5: Unit-level Chunking
Content is not presented
in visibly distinct learning
units or modules.
Content is presented in
visibly distinct learning
units or modules.
Learning units or modules
are consistently structured
and sequenced allowing
students to better
anticipate and manage
their workload.
A6: Page-level Chunking
chunked in manageable
segments using headings;
long pages of text make
Page content is chunked
in manageable segments
using headings that
facilitate online reading.
Page content uses
descriptive headings and
subheadings that enhance
student understanding of
the material.
Criteria A4 A6 Comments:
Section A: Content Presentation
Incomplete Exchange Ready
Additional
Exemplary Elements
A7: Effective Use of CMS Tools
CMS tools that could
reduce the labor intensity
of learning are not used
effectively.
Course Management
System (CMS) tools are
used to reduce the labor-
intensity of learning in a
way that streamlines
access to materials and
activities for students.
CMS Tools are used to
provide integrated and
innovative learning
materials and activities for
students.
A8: Student Centered Teaching
Content is presented
using only one modality.
A variety of modalities,
such as text, audio, video,
images and/or graphics
are used to create
student-centered learning.
Technology is used
creatively to emphasize
student-centered learning
throughout the course.
A9: Instructions
Instructions for working
with course content is
incomplete, or non-
existent.
Course design includes
instructions for learners to
work with content in
meaningful ways (e.g.
instructing students to
take notes during a video,
explaining the purpose of
an external resource).
Instructions are directly
embedded with the
content or activity.
A10: Individualized Learning
individualized learning
opportunities, such as
remedial activities or
resources for advanced
Individualized learning
opportunities, such as
remedial activities or
resources for advanced
learning, are provided.
Numerous individualized
learning opportunities are
provided throughout the
course.
Criteria A7 A10 Comments:
Section A: Content Presentation
Incomplete Exchange Ready
Additional
Exemplary Elements
A11: Learner Feedback
Learners do not have an
opportunity to give
anonymous feedback to
the instructor regarding
course design and/or
course content.
Learners have the
opportunity to give
anonymous feedback to
the instructor regarding
course design and/or
course content after
course completion.
There are opportunities to
give anonymous feedback
both during course
delivery and after course
completion.
A12: Institutional Policies
Institutional policies
relevant for learner
success are not included
or are difficult to find.
Institutional policies
relevant for learner
success (e.g., plagiarism,
academic honesty,
technical support, and
DSPS) are included and
easy to find.
Institutional policies are
provided in units or
activities where they are
most relevant.
A13: Student Services
services are not included,
thus requiring students to
exit the course
management system to
Links to institutional
services, including the
DSPS office and the
library, are embedded in
the course and clearly
labeled.
Links to institutional
services are provided in
units or activities when
they may be needed most.
Criteria A11 A13 Comments:
Section B: Interaction
Incomplete Exchange Ready
Additional
Exemplary Elements
B1: Pre-Course Contact
Instructor does not initiate
contact prior to or at the
beginning of the course.
Instructor initiates contact
prior to or at the beginning
of course.
Instructor provides
multiple resources to help
students successfully start
the course.
B2: Instructor Initiated Contact
The plan for
communication is unclear
or missing.
The instructor provides
students with his/her plan
to engage in regular
effective contact using
CMS communication tools
that includes expected
time frames for responses
to inquiries, discussion
board posts, and feedback
on assignments and
assessments.
The instructor's plan to
engage in regular effective
contact includes the use
of a wide variety of
communication tools.
B3: Technology Support
The instructor's role for
supporting course
technology is not
explained to the students.
The instructor’s role for
supporting course
technology is explained to
students, and links to
technology support are
provided.
Links to technology
support are provided
where needed throughout
the course.
B4: Instructor Contact Info
Contact information for the
instructor is missing or not
easy to find.
Contact information for the
instructor is easy to find
and includes expected
response times.
Students can choose from
a variety of tools to
contact the instructor.
Criteria B1 B4 Comments:
Section B: Interaction
Incomplete Exchange Ready
Additional
Exemplary Elements
B5: Student Initiated Interaction
Students are not given
opportunities to initiate
interaction.
Opportunities for student-
initiated interaction with
other students and the
instructor are clearly
available and encouraged.
Student-initiated
interaction contributes to a
student-centered learning
environment.
B6: Student-to-Student Interaction
Student-to-student
interaction may be present
but is not a required part
of the course.
Student-to-student
interaction that reinforces
course content and
learning outcomes is
required as part of the
course.
Student-to-Student
collaboration is designed
to build workplace skills
such as teamwork,
cooperation, negotiation,
and consensus-building.
B7: Learning Community
Communication activities
that help build a sense of
community among
learners are not included.
The course includes
communication activities
that are designed to build
a sense of community
among learners.
The design and facilitation
of communication
activities are responsive to
the variety of cultures and
communication styles in
the learning community.
B8: Participation Levels
Guidelines explaining
required levels of student
participation are not
provided.
Guidelines explaining
required levels of student
participation (i.e., quantity
and quality of interactions)
are provided.
A rubric or equivalent
grading document is
included to explain how
participation will be
evaluated.
Criteria B5 B8 Comments:
Section C: Assessment
Incomplete Exchange Ready
Additional
Exemplary Elements
C1: Authenticity
There is little or no
evidence of authenticity
built into assessments.
Assessment activities lead
to the demonstration of
learning outcomes.
Assessments are
designed to mimic
authentic environments to
facilitate transfer.
C2: Validity
Students are evaluated on
performance unrelated to
the stated objectives.
Assessments appear to
align with the objectives.
Assessments match the
objectives and learners
are directed to the
appropriate objective(s)
for each assessment.
C3: Variety
Assessment types are
limited to only one type of
assessment (either
formative or summative).
Both formative and
summative assessments
are used.
Multiple types of formative
and summative
assessments are used
(research project,
objective test,
discussions, etc.).
C4: Frequency
Assessments are few and
infrequent.
Multiple assessments are
administered during the
duration of the course.
Frequent assessments
occur at regular intervals
throughout the course,
providing students with
timely feedback on
learning and performance.
Criteria C1 C4 Comments:
Section C: Assessment
Incomplete Exchange Ready
Additional
Exemplary Elements
C5: Rubrics/Scoring Guide
criteria for desired
outcomes may not be
included for some
Rubrics or descriptive
criteria for desired
outcomes are included.
Rubrics and/or descriptive
criteria for desired
outcomes include models
of “good work.”
C6: Assessment Instructions
Assessments include little
or no instruction.
Instructions clearly explain
to students how to
successfully complete the
assessments.
Instructions are written
clearly and with exemplary
detail to ensure
understanding.
C7: Feedback
There is little to no
evidence of meaningful
feedback on student
assessments.
The course includes a
clear plan for providing
meaningful, timely
feedback on
assessments.
Students are given clear
instructions on accessing
feedback in the CMS and
guidance on applying
feedback to improve
learning and performance.
C8: Self-Assessment
There is little to no
evidence that students are
provided opportunities for
self-assessment
Opportunities for student
self-assessment with
feedback are present.
There are multiple
opportunities for student
self-assessment that
encourage students to
seek timely additional
help.
Criteria C5 C8 Comments:
Section D: Accessibility Content Pages
Incomplete Exchange Ready
D1: Heading Styles
Content Pages do not use heading styles or
use them inconsistently, including skipping
heading levels, and/or altered
fonts/size/format/color are used instead of
heading styles.
Content Pages consistently use heading
styles (i.e. Heading 2, Heading 3, etc.).
D2: Lists
Numbers, letters, or symbols are manually
inserted to create a list.
Lists are created using the Bullet or
Numbered List tool in the rich text editor.
D3: Links
Links are not descriptive, or URLs are
displayed instead of meaningful links; and/or
underlining is used for emphasis or for
denoting headings.
Links are descriptive, and avoid redundancy;
links avoid using non-descriptive phrases;
and underlining is only used to denote active
hyperlinks.
D4: Tables
Tables do not use designated header cells.
Table cells designated as row and/or column
headers allow screen readers to read table
cells in the correct order.
D5: Color Contrast
Insufficient color contrast between foreground
(text or graphics) and the background could
create difficulties for low vision and color
blind students.
There is sufficient color contrast between
foreground and background to meet Section
508 standards.
D6: Color and meaning
Visual elements alone have been used to
convey meaning.
Visual elements (color, bolding, all caps) are
not used as the sole way to convey
importance or meaning.
D7: Images
Does not consistently use descriptive
alternative text, or the image has text that is
not part of the alternative description, or uses
"image of" or "picture of" as part of the alt
text.
Every image (including those used in Pages,
Discussions, Quizzes and Assignments) uses
descriptive alternative text that includes any
text visible in the image, does not contain
"image of" or "picture of", and uses "" if the
image is purely decorative.
Content Pages (Criteria D1 D7) Comments:
Section D: Accessibility Files
Incomplete Exchange Ready
D8: Heading Styles
Documents do not use heading styles or use
them inconsistently, including skipping
heading levels, and/or altered
fonts/size/format/color are used instead of
heading styles.
Documents consistently use heading styles
(i.e. Heading 2, Heading 3, etc.).
D9: Lists
Numbers, letters, or symbols are manually
inserted to create a list.
Lists are created using the Bullet or
Numbered List tool.
D10: Links
Links are not descriptive, or URLs are
displayed instead of meaningful links; and/or
underlining is used for emphasis or for
denoting headings.
Links are descriptive, and avoid redundancy;
links avoid using non-descriptive phrases;
and underlining is only used to denote active
hyperlinks.
D11: Tables
Tables do not use designated header cells.
Table cells designated as row and/or column
headers allow screen readers to read table
cells in the correct order.
D12: Color Contrast
Insufficient color contrast between foreground
(text or graphics) and the background could
create difficulties for low vision and color
blind students.
There is sufficient color contrast between
foreground and background to meet Section
508 standards.
D13: Color and meaning
Visual elements alone have been used to
convey meaning.
Visual elements (color, bolding, all caps) are
not used as the sole way to convey
importance or meaning.
D14: Images
Does not consistently use descriptive
alternative text, or the image has text that is
not part of the alternative description, or uses
"image of" or "picture of" as part of the alt
text.
Every image uses descriptive alternative text
that includes any text visible in the image,
doesn't contain "image of" or "picture of", and
uses "" if the image is purely decorative.
Files (Criteria D8 D14) Comments:
Section D: Accessibility Files continued
Incomplete Exchange Ready
D15: Digital Reading Order
Reading order is not correctly set so that
content is presented in the proper sequence
to screen readers and other assistive
technologies.
Reading order is correctly set so that content
is presented in the proper sequence to
screen readers and other assistive
technologies.
D16: Digital Presentations
Some slides have identical titles, reading
order is not properly set (slides have had
elements added to the layout), and/or
images/charts do not include alternative text.
Some text visible in slides is not visible in
Outline View.
Every slide has a unique title, reading order is
properly set (slides use pre-set layouts), and
all images/charts include alternative text. All
text is visible in Outline View so that it can be
read by assistive technology.
D17: PDFs
PDFs contain accessibility issues and do not
pass the Adobe Accessibility Check.
PDFs pass the Adobe Accessibility Check
with no substantial errors.
D18: Spreadsheets
Spreadsheets lack labels and supplemental
explanations that would allow a student with
visual or motor impairment to make use of
the content using assistive technologies.
Spreadsheets include labels for the rows and
columns, detailed labels for any charts, and is
accompanied by a textual description of the
spreadsheet, drawing attention to key cells,
trends, and totals.
Files (Criteria D15 D18) Comments:
Section D: Accessibility Multimedia
Incomplete Exchange Ready
D19: Audio and Video
Accurate transcripts are not included for
audio and/or closed captioning for video is
not present.
Accurate transcripts are included for audio,
closed captioning for video, and narrative
descriptions are available when possible.
D20: Live Broadcast
Live broadcasts do not have synchronized
captions.
Live broadcasts include a means for
displaying synchronized captions.
D21: Auto-Play
Multimedia is set to auto-play.
Multimedia is not set to auto-play.
D22: Flashing Content
Contains blinking or strobing multimedia.
Multimedia (including gifs and images) do not
blink or strobe.
Multimedia (Criteria D19 D22) Comments:
Section D: Accessibility Accommodation
Incomplete Exchange Ready
D23: Instructional Materials Inventory
Inherently inaccessible learning objects are
present, and an instructional material
inventory and plan for accommodation has
not been provided.
An Instructional Material Inventory of each
inherently inaccessible learning object is
provided with a plan that has been reviewed
and approved by the DSPS office for
accommodating students with disabilities.
Instructional material inventory form available at: http://bit.ly/material-inventory
Multimedia (Criteria D19 D22) Comments:
Section E: Institutional Accessibility Concerns
Incomplete* Exchange Ready
E1: LTI/Apps
LTI or Apps used in the course have not been
verified as accessible.
Any LTI or Apps used in the course have
been verified as accessible.
E2: Media Players
Third-party media players used in the course
have not been verified as accessible.
Any third-party media players used in the
course have been verified as accessible.
E3: Websites
Third-party websites used in the course have
not been verified as accessible.
Any third-party media players used in the
course have been verified as accessible.
E4: Publisher Content
Publisher content used in the course has not
been verified as accessible.
Any publisher content used in the course has
been verified as accessible.
*A determination of incomplete may result in an additional level of review for OEI Exchange courses.
Criteria E1 E4 Comments:
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