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Peer Review

Rubric for Online Instruction

by Laura Sederberg


Overall Numeric Rating:

4.6 stars
Content Quality: 4.6 stars
Effectiveness: 4.6 stars
Ease of Use: 4.8 stars
Reviewed: Jun 18, 2003 by Teacher Education
Overview: This site offers a rubric for assessing online instruction. Although it is
specifically used by the Committee for Evaluation of Exemplary Online Courses at
California State University Chico, it provides an effective tool for others to
Type of Material: The rubric is an assessment instrument that can be used for self-assessment or
for nomination of exemplary online course materials.
Recommended Uses: Faculty development: the rubric can be used to evaluate existing courses or to
guide development of new online courses.
Technical Requirements: The rubric is in Adobe Reader format.
Identify Major Learning Goals: Goals are to assess learner support and resources, online organization and
design, instructional design and delivery, assessment and evaluation of student
learning, and appropriate and effective use of technology. In addition, the
site offers examples of high quality design elements for online instruction.
Target Student Population: The site is intended for faculty who create online course as they reflect on
ways to move courses to the online environment or to supplement existing
courses with online resources.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Some knowledge of pedagogy would be helpful to users to interpret some of the
rubric jargon (such as learning objectives and performance expectations).

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.6 stars
Strengths: This site offers a comprehensive rubric for self assessing online instruction.
It provides quality examples of elements of exemplary online courses to
illustrate the targeted components of the rubric. The five components in the
rubric (learner support and resources, online
organization and design, instructional design and delivery, assessment and
evaluation of student learning, and appropriate and effective use of
technology) are clearly important to the success of an online learning
environment. Twocategories are consistently assessed across the components (and
these are often overlooked in online instructional design) (1) Student feedback
used to continually improve course content and (2) A focus on student learning,
including critical thinking and formative feedback.
Concerns: For online instruction to maximize impact on learning, it is important to
consider whether learning competence is equal or superior to that of a
traditional classroom. Such comparisons are justified and could lead to
innovation in teaching styles. A goal should be for the limitations of the
online teaching environment to be more than compensated by novel paradigms that
work ( such as academic online discussions and collaborative learning).
Questions might detail ways to assess whether students are actively engaged in
the material, and whether each student participates in the communication. For
an online learning environment to be high quality, the assessment tool should
look for real depth to the studen' responses in each interaction between the
professor and the students, and between the students themselves. The online
environment could be superior to traditional courses in being able to establish
a community of learners from which students derive motivation. If the students
feel isolated, then the online environment is not working to full potential. And
the community of learners can reach beyond the walls of higher education to
foster a desire for life-long learning. So a question that could be asked is
whether technology is being used in a way that will lead students to continue to
grow in their knowledge throughout their professional careers. In this
category, one might consider use of knowledge produced by a professional
organization (online journals or peer reviewed lectures) to be superior to use
of knowledge from college-specific content delivery (such as local class
lectures converted to streaming video).

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.6 stars
Strengths: The site offers a high quality model of an effective rubric with examples of
exemplary work. The rubric is easy to use and will clearly lead to imprvements
in any course where the faculty considers each component of the rubric and
strives for exemplary level of performance.
Concerns: The site is designed for higher education faculty use.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.8 stars
Strengths: Very easy to navigate. The simplicity and clarity of the rubric, the examples
provided, and the ability to print the rubric for use as a checklist make it
very effective.
Concerns: Additional components or another rubric to reach beyond specific course to
address campus policies are needed to support online learning. In some cases,
problems with online courses are not course specific, but they stem, instead,
from campus policies that should be changed. For example, is access to
technical support for students readily available? The rubric might be easy to
use by individual faculty, but it will not positively impact the online learning
environment if faculty have no mechanisms for influencing campus policies.

Other Issues and Comments: Thanks are extended to the authors for sharing this excellent rubric. Online
courses can be expected to improve with the use of this tool.