Course Design Rubric for the Online Education Initiative

In order for a course to be offered as a part of the Online Education Initiative (OEI), it must meet established standards relating to course design, instruction, and accessibility that are intended to promote a quality learning environment that conforms to existing regulations. Prior to the submission of a course for OEI consideration, it is helpful for the faculty member to review these guidelines and conduct a self-evaluation. The outcome of this self-evaluation is a component of the OEI Course Application process.

The Course Design Rubric for the Online Education Initiative consists of four components:

  1. Course Design
  2. Interaction and Collaboration
  3. Assessment
  4. Learner Support

This rubric is designed to inform the work of reviewers for courses being taught in connection with the California Community College Online Education Initiative. It is informed by the National Standards for Quality Online Courses by the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL). After an initial round of course reviews, the lead review team met with faculty at the OEI Professional Development summit and discussed the strengths and weakness of the rubric. The lead review team then provided recommendations to the OEI Steering Committee and Executive Team for revising the rubric language and structure to enhance the review process.

Revisions approved by the Online Education Initiative Steering Committee for use during the OEI pilot on March 18, 2015.

Additional revisions to D3 and D4 approved April 15, 2016.


For each sub-category (within the main categories of Course Design, Interaction and Collaboration, Assessment, and Learner Support), peer online course reviewers will assign a numeric score (from 0-6) for each sub-category within the major categories. The numeric scores align with the levels of mastery as follows:

  • Distinguished to Exemplary (5-6)
  • Satisfactory to Accomplished (3-4)
  • Promising (2)
  • Incomplete (1)
  • Not Evident (0)

It is common for a course to vary in its level of accomplishment across all items within a single sub-category. For example a course might be very strong in “Content Presentation: Navigation is intuitive” but somewhat less strong in “Content Presentation: Content is presented using a variety of appropriate mechanisms,” both within the same sub-category of “Content Presentation.” In these cases, the higher score (6 for Exemplary and 4 for Accomplished) should be reserved for courses that are strong across all items in the sub-category. The lower scores (5 for Distinguished and 3 for Satisfactory) should be used in cases where most, but not all, of the items in the sub-category are strong.


For a course to be approved for delivery as part of the OEI the following criteria must be met:

  • A minimum score of 3 (Satisfactory) in each sub-category, requiring at least some sub-categories to score in the accomplished to distinguished ranges
  • A minimum cumulative score of 51, earning at least 70% of all possible points
  • Inclusion of a component with content related to the Online Education Initiative

The instructional design team will help a candidate course meet the requirements for accessibility, the OEI component, and other instructional design issues as we can. A course that does not achieve the stated minimum scores will not be offered as part of the OEI.


Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Based on a work at blackboard.com/ecp.