Design Your Online Course to Meet Quality Assurance in D2L

New DSU online faculty are encouraged to use the Quality Assurance Rubric as guidelines to design and develop online courses. This short tutorial is designed to help you design, develop and implement online courses using the quality assurance standards in D2L learning environment.

Getting started

Before you begin designing your course, you have to prepare the course syllabus and course materials including supplemental materials, learning resources and links. In addition, you need to learn the course management system (Desire2Learn) and be familiar with the tool.


Standard 1: Course Overview and Introduction

You will want to provide a general course overview and introduction to help students understand what the course is about, how the course is organized and conducted, what communication methods will be used, and what basic technology requirements and computer skills are needed throughout the course.

Design Checklist for Course Overview and Introduction:

  • Create the navigational instructions to tell students how to get started.
  • Create a statement introducing the student to the course and to the structure of the learning process.
  • Create clear netiquette expectations with regard to discussions and email communications.
  • Create a self-introduction.
  • Ask students to introduce themselves to the class.
  • State minimum technology requirements and minimum study skills.
To meet standard 1, you are expected to:
  • create links to the course syllabus, self introduction, netiquette, standards of conduct and technical requirements in the “DSU Getting Started” widget on your D2L course home page.
  • post the instructor-student communication (required) in the “DSU Course Info” widget.
  • create a simple of “Start Here,” or “Read Me First.” or “Welcome Letter” or “Course Orientation” link on the course home page. The orientation format can be text, video or audio. The course orientation gives the student an idea of how the learning process is structured, including a schedule of topics and assignments, communication modes, and the types of activities and assessments required in the course and including the information where students can find academic and technical support.
  • provide an opportunity for students to introduce themselves in a D2L discussion board forum.
  • provide a clear instructions if you plan to use additional software or web applications in your course (technical requirements).
Resources for Course Overview and Introduction:


Standard 11: Learning Objectives (Competencies)

Learning objectives should describe precisely what students are to gain from instruction and then guide the instructor to accurately assess student accomplishment for the objectives in specific, observable terms. Defining learning objectives can help clarify the intent of instruction and guide the formation of instructional activities.

Design Checklist for Learning Objectives:
  • Describe course learning objectives in measurable terms.
  • Align objectives with learning activities.
  • Describe learning objectives from the student perspectives.
  • Provide clear Instructions to students on how to meet the learning objectives.
  • Specify learning objectives at module/unit level.
To meet the standard, you are expected to
  • describe course learning objectives. Each learning objective should use an action verb to show that it is measurable within a specific context.
  • describe the course activities and assessments aligned with the learning objectives.
  • describe learning objectives at module/unit level.
  • provide explicit descriptions of how student learning will be assessed and how to meet the learning expectations.
Resources on Defining Learning Objectives:


Standard III: Assessment and Measurement

Assessment measures the extent to which students have achieved the course objectives.
You need to define how to measure what students have learned. You can use a number of assessment strategies to evaluate student learning progress by using D2L tools that include online quiz, assignment dropbox, and discussion participation.

Design Checklist for Assessment and Measurement:
  • Align learning activities and assessment measures with learning objectives.
  • Explaining grading policy.
  • Provide specific criteria for evaluating students’ work and performances.
  • Select appropriate assessment instruments and tools.
  • Provide “self-check” or practice assignments.
  • Provide timely feedback to students.
To meet the standard, you are expected to
  • clearly describe your grading policy to students. The description should include a grading scale (90% or higher = A; 80%-89% = B, and so forth) and grade distribution (assignments = 60%, quizzes = 30%). Instructors are strongly encouraged to use grading rubrics with specific criteria to evaluate students’ performances.
  • provide student self-assessments opportunities.
  • provide timely feedback to student assignments through D2L Dropbox or quizzes or e-mail.
Resources for Assessment and Measurement


Standard IV: Resources and Materials

Instructional materials should be sufficiently comprehensive to achieve announced objectives and learning outcomes. The course content materials may include lecture notes, handouts, PowerPoint presentations, audio clips or videos and other learning resources.
Design Checklist for Resources and Materials:
  • Resources and materials are aligned with the stated learning objectives.
  • Instructional materials are easily accessible and useable.
  • Materials are consistent in organization.
  • Cite all resources and materials used in your course.
To meet the standard, you are expected to
  • present your course content in a logical organization
    • which could be:
      • By units or modules based on subject-specific concepts or theories.
      • Chronologically by week.
      • By chapters of the textbook.
      • By complexity of the content.
      • By a combination, i.e., units, organized by week, chapter, etc.
        • You could also:
          • insert links to objectives, assessments, activities, and resources in each unit.
          • insert a QuickLink to D2L course component, such as
          • a calendar event
          • a discussion topic
          • a Dropbox folder
          • a quiz
          • a self-assessment quiz
  • make the content accessible
    • It is recommended that you do not use large videos in your courses as students with limited bandwidth may find it difficult to download the videos.
    • If you need to use videos that are hundreds of megabytes, consider streaming them through the DSU video server.
    • Use HTML and PDF instead of Word documents.
    • Provide technologies required for the course or provide those that are easily downloadable.
    • Utilize standard media formats, such as MP3 for audio and Windows Media for video.
    • Resize images for optimal size and resolution.
    • Avoid busy page background color.
    • Use animations for good instructional reasons.
Resources for Resources and Materials


Standard V: Learner Engagement

Interaction in a distance learning environment is a key factor in the success of the course. Three ways of interactions can be found: instructor-student, student-student, and content-student.

Design Checklist for Learner Engagement
  • The learning activities promote the achievement of stated objectives and learning outcomes.
  • Learning activities foster instructor-student, content-student, and student-student interaction.
  • Clear standards are set for instructor response and availability (turn-around time for email, assignment feedback, and grade posting).
  • Clearly describe the requirements for course interaction.
To meet the standard, you are expected to
  • provide a variety of learning activities such as class discussion, case studies, simulation exercises, practice quizzes, exams, writing exercises, etc. Be sure that you have your learning activities aligned with your course objectives and assessments.
  • explicitly state when the students will receive feedback, when you are available to help them, e-mail response and discussion forum posting turnaround time and the anticipated turn-around time for returning graded assignments back to them.
        Instructor-student interaction examples include:
  • Discussion postings and responses: Set up forums for threaded discussion (asynchronous) and chat rooms for real time chat (synchronous).
  • A question each day or week to start off the discussion.
  • Feedback on project assignments: Boost learner confidence by providing encouraging feedback, using humor or ultra-positive comments in e-mail communications.
  • One-on-one email communication: Provide timely and frequent feedback on student assignment and discussion participation.
  • Periodic emails, phone calls or networking conferences.
  • Timely help with student issues including time management, academic or personal difficulties, and other special needs.
       Student-Content Interaction Examples
  • Interactive instructional technologies, including rich media applications, simulations, virtual reality, and games.
  • Leaning resources including FAQ and other supporting resources.
  • Self-assessment exercises self quiz and test, course survey.
  • Essays
  • Term papers
        Student-Student Interaction Examples
  • Self-introduction: provide students with an introductory activity that encourages them to post something about themselves personally and professionally.
  • Group discussions and projects.
  • Shared virtual working spaces through wiki and Facebook.
Resources for Learner Engagement


Standard VI: Course Technology

Course technology enriches instruction and fosters student interactivity to enhance student learning.

Design Checklist for Course Technology:
  • The tools and media support the learning objectives of the course and are integrated with texts and lesson assignments.
  • The tools and media enhance student interactivity and guide the student to become a more active learner.
  • Technologies required for this course are either provided or easily downloadable.
  • The tools and media are compatible with existing standards of delivery modes.
  • Instructions on how to access resources at a distance are sufficient and easy to understand.
  • Course technologies take advantage of existing economies and efficiencies of delivery.
To meet the standard, you are expected to
  • make sure the tools and media support the learning objectives of the course and are integrated with texts and lesson assignments.
  • provide a clear instructions to guide students how to use the software or web application that you used in your course.
Resources for Course Technology


Standard VII: Learner Support

Courses are effectively supported for students through fully accessible modes of delivery, resources, and student support.
Design Checklist for Learner Support:
  • Provide links to technical support resources.
  • Provide links to institution’s academic support resources.
  • Provide links to institution’s student support services resources.
  • Provide tutorials and research resources related to the course content.
To meet the standard, you are expected to
  • provide DSU policies, procedures and resources, such as course drop-add dates, proctor’s information, attendance policies, etc.
  • provide all the links of DSU technical support, academic support, student services and tutorial services and support contact information.
Resources for Learner Support


Standard VIII: ADA Compliance

The course is accessible to all students.

Design Checklist for ADA Compliance:
  • A statement that acknowledges the importance of ADA requirements.
  • Provide information on how to obtain accommodation services for learners with disabilities.
To meet the standard, you are expected to
  • Include a ADA statement in your course syllabus.
ADA Statement: If you have a documented disability and/or anticipate needing accommodations (e.g., non-standard note taking, extended time on exams or a quiet space for taking exams) in this course, please contact the instructor. Also, please contact Dakota State University’s ADA coordinator, Keith Bundy (located in the Student Development Office in the Trojan Center Underground or via email at Keith.Bundy@dsu.edu or via phone (605-256-5121) as soon as possible. The DSU website containing additional information, along with the form to request accommodations, is available at the
disability services website. You will need to provide documentation of your disability. The ADA coordinator must confirm the need for accommodations before officially authorizing them.

Resources for ADA Compliance
  • D2L Accessibility: Accessibility Standards Compliance, Accessibility Resources for Individuals with Disabilities and Accessibility Resources for Instructors.
  • W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI): The starting point for Web accessibility information, from W3C, the World Wide Web Consortium, which sets commonly accepted application and use standards for Web developers and publishers.
References and Resources

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Last Updated: August 16, 2013