Standards for Online Courses

VFMC Standards for
Online Courses

In keeping with the MSCHE Standards of Excellence, the purpose of this policy is to establish standards for the delivery of online learning programs offered by Valley Forge Military College so as to ensure that distance education offerings meet “institution-wide standards for quality of instruction, articulated expectations of student learning, academic rigor, and educational effectiveness.” To ensure quality and consistency of online instruction, the following guidelines are proposed:

  1. All syllabi are designed by the standards and should be in accordance with VFMC standards as delineated in Academic Memorandum #2010-41, including:- Course objectives should be clearly stated

    - Expectations and grading standards clearly articulated

    - Requirement to have textbook by first class MUST be explicitly stated

    - Guidelines for frequency, quality, and length of required communication and participation must be clearly articulated

    - Assessment metrics clearly defined

  2. All courses must provide opportunities for active participation in an interactive learning environment. Some methods that may be used to accomplish frequent interaction between learning community members include but not limited to the following:
    – Online discussion and/or chat- Discussion Boards

    - Group projects, presentations, assignments

    - Required e-mail communications

    - Virtual office hours

    - Discussion questions that require higher-level critical thinking

    - Posting follow-up questions

    - Electronic collaboration using virtual groups

    - Use of asynchronous/synchronous tools to promote interaction. If synchronous format selected, make sure students are given the time and date for online meetings well in advance.

  3. Student Submissions and Faculty Feedback

    - Clear timelines should be listed for submission and expected feedback.

    - Frequent deadlines for submissions should be listed to help students avoid procrastination.

    - Instructors must maintain frequent and regular communication with students throughout the semester, as defined in the syllabus, and notify students when they will be temporarily unavailable.

  4. Student Evaluation & Assessment- Multiple measures of student learning outcomes should be used.

    - Students should be given frequent opportunities to demonstrate understanding of material.

    - Exams are to be updated every semester, if needed

    - Student progress must be readily available via the Gradebook and frequent instructor feedback.

  5. Electronic Media- All media should be up-to-date and cleared for copyright use. Faculty is responsible for identifying any copyrighted materials used in their courses and either citing that material appropriately or obtaining written permission to use it online.

    - All links should be in good working order.

  6. Course Equivalence- Online courses must have the same rigor as brick and mortar classes.

    - Student learning outcomes and assessment measures must be equivalent but not necessarily identical.

    - Students must spend an equivalent amount of time preparing for and participating in online learning activities as they would in a traditional class.

    - Student feedback on effectiveness of delivery and rigor of course must be solicited.

  7. Online course materials must be professional and error-free.
  8. Support Services: A system of support services should be in place to ensure the effective delivery and use of online course material by faculty and students.- Students should be able to access support in several ways and receive prompt responses.

    - Updated telephone numbers to technical support and learning resources/support should be posted on the course site.

    - Working links to tech and learning support services and library electronic resources must be available to students.

VFMC is indebted to the Weber State University Online Standards for Development which serves as a model for this policy.