Online courses should not be downgraded for online. The methods may be different than in F2F classes but the goal is the same. Both the academic content and grading standards of online classes should be equivalent F2F classes.
Suggestion for Instructors:
- Choose challenging materials and assignments and make student workload equitable to a F2F class
- Include SLOs in your syllabus and refer to them throughout your course
- Use varied methods of student assessment including quizzes, discussion, writing assignments, group work
- Grading should clearly distinguish quality and should be comparable to F2F classes (see Assessment area)
- Compare the grade distributions in your online classes with those in your F2F classes - the two should be similar
- Allow peers to enter and review your course on an informal basis (ask that they check for rigor)
- Do your best to stop student cheating and "buying" of assignments or entire classes. Increase security with more written work, personalized journals, on-campus exams, timed online tests, frequent changing of assignments each semester (see Problem Students)
- Read Cuyamaca's "Standards of Good Practice" (see sidebar)
- See San Diego Community College District's "Online Teaching Proficiency Checklist"
- Review the Berkeley Compendium's Suggestions for Teaching with Excellence
- Research shows that "distance education is just as effective as traditional education in regard to learner outcomes." Source: page 83 "Teaching and Learning at a Distance" by Simsonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., and Zvacek, S. : Pearson, 2009 [for a great discussion of the recent research in online quality, read chapter 3]
Suggestions for College Policy:
- Develop standards and procedures for online content, delivery, and design
- Develop a certification process for teaching online (Done - See Online Instructor Certification Policy
- Better adapt administrator and peer evaluations for online deliveries
- Schedule regular meetings of online faculty to share concerns and advice
- Accreditation visits might better address online rigor
Last Updated: 04/13/2016
The "Standards of Good Practice" has a section on academic rigor (see page 6).