Online Course Design Guidelines

The following guidelines provide a roadmap for instructors during the course design process or as a “self-evaluation” tool to assist instructors in revision of an existing online course using the rubric and suggested examples. This research-informed framework highlights key components essential to a high quality learning experience for students.

The full Course Design Checklist in Microsoft Word format is available for download or may be browsed by guideline topic area:

  1. Learner Support and Resources
  2. Course Technology and Tools
  3. Interaction
  4. Design and Layout
  5. Accessibility and Universal Design
  6. Content and Activities
  7. Assessment and Feedback

These guidelines are based on The SUNY Online Course Quality Review Rubric (OSCQR). The OSCQR Rubric, Dashboard, and Process are made available by the Online Learning Consortium, Inc. under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The OSCQR Rubric, Dashboard, and Process were originally developed by the State University of New York, through SUNY Online, Online Teaching (

A condensed checklist can be found in web format as well as print formats on



The SUNY Online Course Quality Review Rubric.



We would like to acknowledge original content and research into online course design guidelines was informed by:

  • Duzer, Joan Ann. (2003) Instructional Design Tips for Online Instruction. Humboldt State University and CSU, Chico.
  • Graham, Charles. (2001) “Seven Principles of Effective Teaching: A Practical Lens for Evaluating Online Courses.” Technology source (Chapel Hill, N.C.).
  • California State University’s Quality Online Learning & Teaching, Instructor (Self)  and Peer-Review Course Assessment Instrument.