Basic Development Standards

Start Here


Every distance education course must begin with a Start Here module that contain information set forth in the Quality Matters rubric. The Instructional Designers have already created this module with all of the necessary components, which are editable by Instructors so that you may personalize your information. Contact onlinelearning@marshall.edu if you need to have the Start Here module placed in one of your courses.

Course Syllabus


Every distance education course at Marshall University must use the Accessible Syllabus template. This template can be found on the Office of Assessment Resources page as “Enhanced Syllabus Template.”

Student Course Orientation


Information must be included on your online course homepage to orient the students as to (1) how your course is structured and (2) how online tools are used in the course. We suggest building in a clearly labeled set of course orientation instructions such as a page called “Start Here.” Our instructional designers can help you modify the Start Here module to include a course overview as well.

If you need course design help, please contact our instructional designers at 304-696-7117

Student Interaction


Online courses must utilize tools in Blackboard for students to interact with each other and you. Course discussion, blogs, chat, and holding virtual office hours or meeting spaces are some of the ways to accomplish this. Online courses will not pass the review process unless there are ways for students and the professor(s) to interact with each other.

PLEASE NOTE: For courses taught completely online, mandatory face-to-face activities and meetings cannot be scheduled.

Student Deadlines & Instructor Feedback


We highly recommend that you set up regular deadlines for assignment submission and exams, much like the deadlines you may use in a traditional class. This helps students maintain a consistent pace for completing course work. It is especially important for students to receive a message from you when they login to the course, and for the student to complete a low stakes assignment or discussion post upon starting the course. The sooner students start their work, the more likely they are to finish.

Online students expect quick response. Please be sure to be very clear on when students may expect feedback. Please maintain frequent and regular communication online with students throughout the semester, and alert them if you will be temporarily unavailable.

Use Appropriate Online Materials


We encourage faculty to take advantage of all electronic media that is available and appropriate for your course content. Since web pages often change, faculty need to monitor the links you use regularly. All the links that you use for instruction must be in good working order.

As you plan the content for an online course, please consider:

Are the file sizes appropriate (not too large) and download times worth the wait?
Are audio clips and video clips supported by text for the disabled?
Copyright issues are extremely important. As the course instructor, it is your legal responsibility to identify copyrighted materials used in your courses and to cite it appropriately or obtain written permission to use it–before the beginning of the course. The course must be in compliance with Copyright provisions pertaining to Education outlined in Title 17 of the US Code. Access the university copyright site for more information.

Course Equivalence


An online course is equivalent to a traditional class except in the delivery format. Courses offered through Blackboard are the same as traditional courses, with equivalent objectives and outcomes. We recommend that you encourage your students to spend an equal amount of time preparing for and participating in an online course as they would spend in a traditional class.

High Quality Course


Posting material to the Internet is a form of publication that reflects not only your own work but that of Marshall University. Our goal is that every course offered on Blackboard meet the highest professional publishing standards of each faculty member’s discipline. In closing, please be sure that your course materials are professional in appearance and error-free.

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