Principles of Online Design Checklist

The Design Checklist was developed to help faculty improve the design and delivery of online courses. The content of the checklist is based upon the Principles of Online Design. Expanded content and examples are provided within the principles. Hyperlinks are provided within the checklist to expedite and facilitate your understanding of each indicator on the checklist. By clicking on each of the principles listed to the left, you can quickly access this information. Instructions for using the Online Design Checklist are as follows:

  • Indicators for each principle are numbered to coincide with the Principles of Online Design.
  • Please select each indicator for which you find evidence at the website.


Roberta McKnight, Ph.D.

Harriett Bohannon, Ph.D.
Peggy Bradley, M. Ed.
Cindy Conley, Ph.D.
Nancy Edwards, M.S
Roberta McKnight, Ph.D.
Craig Rademacher, Ph.D.

We invite you to send your comments and suggestions to the Department of Course and Faculty Development. Your feedback will remain confidential.

© FGCU 2002. This is an official FGCU Web page.
Florida Gulf Coast University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution.
10501 FGCU Blvd. South, Fort Myers, FL 33965-6565


Quality Standards


1.1. Audience Analysis

1.1.4. Educational prerequisites are listed.

1.1.4. Entry-level knowledge/skills are described.

1.1.5. Technology skills are clearly articulated.

1.2. Course Goals / Objectives

1.2.1. Course objectives are stated.

1.2.1. Objectives include measurable criteria.

1.2.2. Course expectations are described.

1.3. Instructional Activities

1.3.1.a. Active learning strategies are employed to achieve objectives.

1.3.1.b. Activities are clearly linked to course objectives.

1.3.2. Information is chunked or segmented in a way that clarifies the content presented.

1.3.4. FGCU copyright policy is followed with citation of materials.

1.4. Student & Course Evaluation

1.4.1. Formative evaluation is provided through ongoing feedback.
1.4.1. Summative evaluation is clearly described.
1.4.2. Formative evaluation is linked to objectives.

1.4.2. Summative evaluation is linked to objectives.

1.5. Teaching Strategies

1.5.1.a. The instructor guides students to resources using a learner-centered philosophy.

1.5.1.b. Students are engaged in active learning strategies.

1.5.1. A syllabus with course description, assignments, grading criteria, and resources is available.


Quality Standards



2.1. Interaction among learners

Facilitates communication electronically through:

2.1.1.b. Required discussion, chat, or email;

2.1.1.c. Student assignments.

2.2. Learner/instructor Interaction

2.2.1. Faculty email, office hours, and phone number are clearly identified on website.

2.2.1.b. Students are encouraged to communicate electronically.

2.3. Learner/Materials Interaction

2.3.1. Online technology orientation and/or self-readiness assessments are made available to students.

Links or content are provided for resources such as:

2.3.2.a. Technology/software tutorials;

2.3.2.b. Online skills assessment;

2.3.3. Interaction protocol and expectations.

2.4. Electronic Collaboration

2.4.1.a. Tools for collaboration are provided (bulletin board, email, telephone, etc).

2.4.1.b. Goals for online collaboration are stated.

2.4.1. Evaluation of collaboration is described.

2.5. Feedback Systems

2.5.1.a. Modes of feedback are described.

2.5.1.b. Time duration for electronic feedback is provided.

2.5.1.c. Feedback timelines are described.

2.6. Paced Learning to Prevent Procrastination

2.6.1,a. A schedule of assignments is provided.

2.6.1.b. Assignments and due dates are described.

2.7. Communication



2.7.1. Communication tools are clearly described.

2.7.1. A statement clarifies expectations about the frequency of student participation.


Quality Standards



3.1. Information Presentation

3.1.1.a. Information is logically grouped or chunked.

3.1.1.b. Scrolling is minimized or facilitated with anchors.

3.1.1.c. Shorter lines of text are used.

3.1.1.d. Information information that orients users is readily apparent (ie, banner, menu).

3.1.1.f. Screen size accommodates various platforms (ie, webTV).

3.1.2. Information navigation is clear and consistent.

3.1.3. Site complies with University accessibility policy.

3.2. Interface design

3.2.1.a. Multiple techniques are used to highlight the current location.

3.2.1.c. Navigation cues are readily identifiable and consistenly available.

3.2.1.e. Consistent layout design orients users throughout the site.

3.2.1.f. Hyperlinks are clearly identifiable.

3.2.2.a. Graphic elements & color serve an instructional purpose.

3.2.2.c. Graphic elements load quickly and read clearly.

3.2.2.h. Font type, size, and color are readable and consistent throughout the site.

3.2.2.i. Light text on dark background is used only as a design element, not to deliver lengthy text-based information.

3.3. Multimedia elements

3.3.1.a. Audio or video is clearly audible / visible.

3.3.1.b. Plug-in links are provided as needed.

3.3.2. Audio is not the sole carrier of instruction; Audio enhances instruction.

3.3.3. Animation is used to draw attention; Non-stop animation elements are avoided.

3.3.4 Video is accessible to students; Video enhances instruction; Video clips are short (5 to 25 seconds).

3.3.5. Multimedia elements do not exceed minimum University hardware/software requirements.


Quality Standards



4.1.1. Time Requirements

4.1.1. Course development completed (not under construction).

4.1.3. Clear statement of required student participation & time commitment.

4.2. Tracking & Evaluating Student Progress

4.2.1. Technological Literacy

4.2.1.a. Students assess technological proficiency before completing course content assignments (i.e. email, file attachment, chat, bulletin board).

4.2.1.b. Technology resource links are provided.

4.2.2. Module Progression

4.2.2.a. Modules are organized in logical/ consistent sequence.

Detailed instructions are provided for:
4.2.2.b. Assignments;
4.2.2.c. Due dates;
4.2.2.d. Method of submission.

4.2.3. Tracking Progress

4.2.3. Student progress reports are provided.

4.2.4. Evaluating Student Progress

4.2.4.a. Detailed information about evaluation of assignments is provided.

4.2.4.c. Evaluation of online participation is described.

4.2.4.g. Online tests, if used, account for a small percent of the overall grade.

4.2.4. Evaluations are confidential.

4.3. Providing Adequate Feedback

4.3.1. Assignment Feedback

4.3.1.a. Clearly stated policy of frequency and method of feedback.

4.3.1.b. Statement of policy regarding how students are notified when assignments are received.

4.4. Managing Asynchronous - Synchronous Electronic Communication

4.4.1. Communication

Asynchronous and


4.4.1. the format (type) of communication tools to be used is provided.

4.4.1.b. Communication instructions are provided.

4.4.1.c. Communication expectations are clearly described.

4.5. Promoting Online Learning Community

4.5.1. Online Community Promotion

4.5.1. Students are provided a variety of ways to communicate with the instructor and each other.

4.5.2. The instructor promotes sharing of information.

4.5.3 Students are encouraged to communicate with the instructor and with each other.


Quality Standards



5.1. Technical Support Services

5.1.1. A link to the technical support services webpage is available.

5.2. Academic Support Services

A link to tutoring or test proctoring is available when needed.

5.3. Library Services

5.3.1. A link to library services is available.

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©FGCU 2001. This is an official FGCU Web page.
Florida Gulf Coast University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution.
10501 FGCU Blvd. South, Fort Myers, FL 33965-6565