National Standards of Quality for Online Courses5

National Standards for Quality Online Courses is designed to provide states, districts, online programs, and other organizations with a set of quality guidelines for online course content, instructional design, technology, student assessment, and course management. Version two of the standards, released in 2011, incorporated reviewer considerations and a rubric to assist in the review of online courses. These guidelines should be implemented and monitored by each district or organization, as they reserve the right to apply the guidelines according to the best interest of the population for which they serve.

The course standards are comprehensive in nature addressing the following topic areas:

  1. The Content standards address items such as learning objectives being clearly stated, content being aligned to appropriate state and national standards, content having sufficient rigor, incorporation of information literacy in the curriculum, respecting copyright, and issues such as academic integrity and privacy.
  2. The Instructional Design standards focus on appropriate organization of content, level of student engagement, differentiated learning, higher order thinking skills, and appropriate instructor-student and student-student interaction.
  3. The Student Assessment standards identify the need for assessment to be frequent and ongoing, consistent with the course objectives, and helpful to the student in understanding his/her progress in the class.
  4. The Technology standards address areas such as ease of navigation, allowing teachers to add content to the course, orienting the student to the environment, level of technical support, and providing information to students regarding technology requirements.
  5. The Course Evaluation and Management standards look at how feedback is obtained about the effectiveness of the course, how the course is maintained and updated, and does the course provider have appropriate authority to offer the course in the locations served.
  6. The 21st Century Skills standard requires the course to emphasize those items the Partnership for 21st Century Skills8 has identified as important skills for today’s society.

Download a complete copy of the National Standards of Quality for Online Courses.

References for footnotes can be found on the resources page or click on the footnote number for a direct link.