Regents Online Degree Program Standards and Template Guidelines

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1 Regents Online Degree Program Standards and Template Guidelines Courses submitted for acceptance to the Tennessee Board of Regents Online Degree Program must meet the following standards. 1. The course must include a syllabus or prologue that includes the items listed below. 1. Course objectives or intended learning outcomes. The course objectives should be stated clearly so that they can be related to the expected learning outcomes in each section or module of the course and to the goals of the overall assessment process. 2. Course description. A brief statement describing the nature of the course, what the student can expect to learn, and an overview of course activities such as teamwork, group projects, student web pages, etc. 3. Prerequisites for the course. A list of all course prerequisites with a statement of why the prerequisites are deemed necessary. 4. Course instructor. A biographical sketch of the instructor of record and any other participants in the course if, for example, the course is a team-taught course. 5. Virtual office hours. A statement indicating that the instructor will respond to student s in 24/36 hours. 6. How to contact the instructor. A listing of the instructor's institutional address, fax number (if available), office telephone number (if available), etc. should be included for emergency use in case the D2L server is unreachable. 7. Timing of instructor response. A statement that the instructor will make every attempt to respond to course within 24 or 48 hours during the work week, though it may not be possible in all cases. Students will be notified when the instructor is not available to meet the stated response time. 8. Textbook. A list of textbooks with the author, title, publisher, edition, date, and ISBN number. 9. Supplementary material. A list of other published material the student is required to purchase for the course including lab manuals, lab kits, software, etc. 10. Specific course requirements. A description of any special course requirements, such as knowledge of specific software, and why it is necessary for successful completion of the course. 11. Course topics. A suggested sequence of course topics, perhaps noting that students should complete certain core modules prior to moving to elective or more advanced modules. 12. Assignments and projects. A sequenced list of assignments and projects arranged by course section or module with due dates if applicable. 13. Punctuality. A statement of course milestones to keep the students on track in an asynchronous environment. No synchronous events such as chat sessions, audio conferences, or physical meetings should be required. 14. Class participation. A statement that students must participate in all interactive aspects of the course if interaction is part of the course design. For example, students are expected to communicate with the instructor as a learning resource, students must check the course bulletin board frequently for announcements, and students must actively participate in threaded discussion events. Regents Online Degree Program Standards and Template Guidelines Page 1

2 15. Grading procedure and grading scale. A detailed statement of how grades are related to or reflective of the expected learning outcomes. A statement of what constitutes high achievement in the course. Grades awarded do not include a plus or minus (+/-) designation. 16. Course ground rules. A reiteration and emphasis of certain rules and course expectations. For example, 1. Participation is required 2. Students are expected to communicate with other students in team projects 3. Learn how to navigate in D2L 4. Keep abreast of course announcements 5. Use the assigned college or university address as opposed a personal e- mail address 6. Address technical problems immediately 7. Observe course netiquette at all times. Instructor guidelines for communication by , discussion groups, chat, and the use of web resources. Some examples are: Always include a subject line. 2. Remember without facial expressions some comments may be taken the wrong way. Be careful in wording your s. Use of emoticons might be helpful in some cases. 3. Use standard fonts. 4. Do not send large attachments without permission. 5. Special formatting such as centering, audio messages, tables, html, etc. should be avoided unless necessary to complete an assignment or other communication. 6. Respect the privacy of other class members. 2. Discussion groups 1. Review the discussion threads thoroughly before entering the discussion. Be a lurker then a discussant. 2. Try to maintain threads by using the "Reply" button rather starting a new topic. 3. Do not make insulting or inflammatory statements to other members of the discussion group. Be respectful of other's ideas. 4. Be patient and read the comments of other group members thoroughly before entering your remarks. 5. Be cooperative with group leaders in completing assigned tasks. 6. Be positive and constructive in group discussions. 7. Respond in a thoughtful and timely manner. 3. Web Resources 1. Columbia Guide to Online Style by Janice R. Walker and Todd Taylor 2. Citation Styles Online Course syllabus changes. A statement that any necessary changes to the course syllabus will be sent to the student by and posted on the bulletin board. 18. Sources of technical assistance. A listing of contacts to help resolve technical problems with addresses, telephone numbers, fax numbers, pagers, etc. 19. Special needs. A statement of accommodation for students with special needs such as voice recognition software or special hardware. 2. The textbook used in the course must be one that is recognized by the discipline as being authoritative, timely, comprehensive, written clearly, and designed for the level of the particular course in which it is to be used. The course developer of the course will select the Regents Online Degree Program Standards and Template Guidelines Page 2

3 textbook(s) in consultation with others who regularly teach the course. The TBR Curriculum Committee will periodically review the textbook selection process. 3. The course may include study guides, lecture summaries, presentation slides, audio, and/or streaming video that summarizes and enhances the textbook material, making it more understandable to the distance learners. This material should be arranged in weekly modules or other sequences that clearly relate to the course's expected learning outcomes. 4. All assignments should clearly state how they achieve or contribute to achieving the module's or course's anticipated learning objective(s) or outcome(s). Assignments should emphasize active student involvement in the learning process and the building of learning communities. Students should be provided with opportunities for projects that foster interactive communication through chat sessions, threaded discussions, and/or audio conferencing. 5. The option for synchronous class meetings should be available if needed to achieve the course's learning outcome but must not be required or graded. 6. Learning outcomes should be assessed on a continuous basis through timed quizzes, proctored examinations, take-home tests, open book examinations, and/or other assessment means applicable to the particular course. The quizzes and examinations should clearly indicate the learning objectives that are trying to be achieved and focused on the cognitive level of the material being assessed. 7. The grading scale should emphasize assignments, projects, and student participation in the learning community as well as timed quizzes and periodic examinations. 8. All courses should include written assignments. Such assignments may be in the form of evaluative essays, case analyses, term papers, book reviews, film reviews, summaries and critiques of journal articles, etc. 9. Links to library materials (such as electronic journals, databases, interlibrary loans, digital reserves, dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, and librarian support) and Internet resources needed by learners to complete online assignments and as background reading must be included in all courses. 10. Individuals with special needs who seek an accommodation through the local campus Office of Disabled Student Services will be accommodated as appropriate so that they might achieve the learning objectives of the course. 11. Course instructors must meet the minimum SACS competency criteria for teaching the course subject matter. 12. Course instructors must assure that the course material is current (i.e., having been reviewed within the last six months). Regents Online Degree Program Standards and Template Guidelines Page 3

4 Desire2Learn Implementation Standards Course Menu May be added to but not subtracted from. Additions should be limited. Textblocks and page titles Ordinarily every page should have an upper title Professor The inclusion of a photo on the instructor contact page is optional. The word "Professor" may be changed to "Instructor" as appropriate. Calendar The major milestones and due dates of any course component that receives a grade should be listed on the calendar tool. Content Modules The overall organization of the course may be implemented through content modules (one per unit of instruction) or a comprehensive content module table of contents. All content within a course must use the term "Module" at the upper most level of content divisions. The Getting Started module is required at the top of every Course Content page. Tables HTML tables were not originally meant to be page layout tools. In the future, page layout will be accomplished through cascading style sheets. At the present, however, web page designers are making extensive use of tables for this purpose. If you decide to use a table in your page, there are two issues that you should consider: 1. Adaptive technologies such as the Jaws screen reader work best with basic tables. Please avoid tables within tables. Also note that screen readers read tables vertically, column then row. Therefore, headings for information in a table cell should be inside the same cell or in the row above that cell. Avoid placing headers in a cell in the same row as the information it points to. Links Do not use hyperlinks of the type "click here." Screen readers have an option to list and read all hyperlinks on a page. A list of twenty items all reading "click here" would not be instructive. Regents Online Degree Program Standards and Template Guidelines Page 4

5 Alt Tags All graphics should have alternative text (alt tags) for ADA Section 508 compliance. Additional details about ADA web standards can be found at: o o Fonts Research shows that sans-serif fonts (i.e. Arial or Verdana) are more easily read on computer monitors than are serif fonts. Black text on a white background is recommended. Font size of 12 is recommended for most content Chat Chat is a synchronous tool. Therefore chat should not be a required part of the assessment of student performance. Optional use for student consultation is recommended. Regents Online Degree Program Standards and Template Guidelines Page 5

6 Preface The following information is intended as a guide in developing a new RODP course using the official RODP template. This is a set of notes which accompanies training and should not be considered a complete or detailed explanation of the implementation process. Course developers should take advantage of every opportunity for training in Desire2Learn course development and management techniques as well as web page development. Continuing training is available both through the Regents Degree program and at the local college or university level. The Template Great care and thought has gone into the template design. A number of experts were consulted, and concepts from current research into the best design practices were included. The RODP staff has also taken care to address issues that have arisen from experience. Desire2Learn is a powerful tool which can be individualized in a number of ways. For example, it is possible to have web pages with pink backgrounds and blinking purple text. Please realize that just because it is possible does not mean you should feel free to experiment with the interface design. Each course is part of a program - the Tennessee Board of Regents Online Degrees Program. This is not a miscellaneous collection of independently designed courses. The look and feel of the template is designed so that each course can be seen as part of a whole. The RODP staff does not wish to infringe in any way on the individual professor's best judgment in presenting his or her course content. We are asking, however, that you do abide by the template design for the outer shell of your course. Professors wishing to substantially deviate from the RODP template should contact the RODP staff before beginning the course development process. Master Copies Courses under development will be the master copy of the course (sometimes known as "R50" sections). Later, close to the beginning of the semester of offering, the master copies will be "cloned" to form the individual sections which will have actual students. Remember that the original course developer may not be the instructor for every section of the course being developed. Therefore, do NOT change the generic instructor name, address, and phone number on the homepage and also do not edit the generic instructor contact page. The master copy of the course will be unavailable for editing at least two-weeks prior to each semester. It must be 100% complete before that time. That means that all content, quizzes, assignments, and calendar entries must be in place. Cloned Sections As the semester nears (two weeks before the start of the semester) the master copy will become unavailable to anyone other than the RODP staff. At this time the master section will be copied (or cloned) to form the individual sections that will become the courses which are actually delivered to the students. During this pre-semester transition period all cloned sections will be available for editing by the instructor of record. This person will personalize his or her individual section by editing the homepage and instructor contact page. Regents Online Degree Program Standards and Template Guidelines Page 6

7 Self Assessment Each course developer should carefully consider his/her own level of ability in regard to Desire2Learn and web page design. The RODP course template is designed to allow instructors to concentrate on content development. The learning curve for a basic understanding of Desire2Learn can be rather steep. It is advisable that instructors new to teaching online rely heavily on the template for course management. Experienced web designers will want to incorporate more advanced techniques than are in evidence in this basic template. However, the basic structure and design of the RODP template should be followed in either case. There exists plenty of opportunity for self-expression and creativity in the construction of the actual course content. The template, which forms the overall look and feel, should be consistent throughout the Regents Online Degrees Program. Regents Online Degree Program Standards and Template Guidelines Page 7

8 Phase One: Initial Decisions and First Edits Homepage Edits Change the Course Prefix, Number, Title, and Credit hours. Do NOT change the Instructor info - this will be done immediately preceding the start of the semester. Edit the text (not the heading) of the Welcome to Class block. This should be your own phrasing. Edit the text (not the heading) of the Course Description block. This should be the catalog description also seen in the syllabus. Do NOT edit the Guidelines for RODP Courses or the Disclaimer. Syllabus Edits The syllabus that comes in the template is a file named syllabus-coursenumbersemester.htm. Download this file and edit it. Pretty much all text in the generic template should be replaced. The banner image should be changed to the course specific banner. Dropbox The Dropbox link contains a link to the Desire2Learn Dropbox tool. The Dropbox tool should be used if students are requested to turn in files such as Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, etc. Regents Online Degree Program Standards and Template Guidelines Page 8

9 Phase Two: Developing the Content Modules The Desire2Learn Content Module Desire2Learn uses the Content Module tool to contain links to the actual pages of course content. The Content Module is characterized by an outline structure headed by the title "Table of Contents." The reasons for using content modules (and the path pages that link from the Content Module) include the extensive tracking of path pages, the action menu, the usefulness of using the Compile feature for students' printing of Content Module pages for intensive study of course materials, and glossary keywords which are only available on path pages. Calendar entries may only be linked to pages that appear as entries in a content module table of contents. Please see the Assignment tutorial and the Desire2Learn Learner Guide tutorial to see the advantages of the Content Module. The overall and initial organization may be chosen to be organizer pages (the Course Modules link). However, at the unit level the Content Module must be used. The RODP Sample Module The Sample Module is intended as a guide for instructors who want the advice. The module has been broken into several pages for easy reading on the computer. Remember that the student can use the Compile/Print tool to print entire modules. Of course, the sample module should be deleted. The content and design of individual course content pages is the responsibility of the course developer. Keep in mind however that best practices indicate that the following items should be clearly stated at some point in the module: o introduction o time requirement o due dates o learning objectives o key words o references including internet links o assignments and/or tests details o summary Web Page Construction The choice of web page editor is up to the developer. Desire2Learn has an internal HTML editor which allows you to create content from within D2sire2Learn.. Macromedia Dreamweaver is also a good choice and there are others too numerous to mention. Caution: Microsoft Word is NOT a good choice for web page development. Word does have a Save as Web Page option. However, please realize that this will cause many complications that should be avoided. These complications include the file size, insertion of XML, creation of supplementary folders and files, images that can be seen but not printed, and the imposition of such style settings as line height which are inappropriate in the RODP template. Regents Online Degree Program Standards and Template Guidelines Page 9

10 PowerPoint Presentations Many developers will have existing PowerPoint presentations that have been very effective in the classroom. However, these presentations are often the TALKING POINTS which the instructor uses as he or she delivers a VERBAL LECTURE. PowerPoint presentations should not be considered Course Content, instead considering it as an Additional Resource. Are these presentations appropriate as standalone lectures without the verbal accompaniment? In many cases, extensive notes should be written to accompany the presentation. Adding audio lectures to existing PowerPoint presentations is a wonderful way to make PowerPoint presentations more useful in online courses. A tutorial is available in the RODP Faculty Development course which explains and illustrates creating compatible presentations. Streaming Media Small audio and video clips may be embedded within the file structure of individual courses. For large audio and video files, the developer should contact the Eduprise Helpdesk for the appropriate forms to have the files served from a dedicated Eduprise streaming media server. There is a restriction on the file storage space available to each course. In addition, the developer should realize that many students will be accessing these files using a 56K modem. An alternative to serving the files over the Internet is to use the Desire2Learn CD-ROM tool. With the CD-ROM tool, the course references the student s local CD-ROM drive when it is time to view the video. (This introduces a logistics problem of delivering the CD to students). Regents Online Degree Program Standards and Template Guidelines Page 10

11 Phase Three: Assessment and Evaluation Assignments The developer must decide whether to use the Desire2Learn Dropbox tool or to explain assignments via regular web pages. The advantages of the Dropbox tool include the integration with the gradebook (including the instructor view and the student view), the ability to set availability dates, and a standard interface. A major disadvantage is the number of steps in the assignment submission process. Some students find this difficult to understand. A tutorial on Submitting an Assignment using the Dropbox Tool has been made part of the RODP template and is available to all students. If the Assignment tool is not used this tutorial should be hidden or deleted from the course. A major advantage of explaining assignments using a regular web page integrated into the Course Module units is that the assigned paper (or other file) can be explained in greater detail and in the flow of instruction inside the units so that instruction and assessment and evaluation become a seamless whole to student perceptions. That is, assignments submitted via the assignment tool seem to grow out of instruction inside the modules. The Assignment link on the navigation bar connects to a page with a link to the Assignments tool and another link to an organizer page where other types of assignments can be linked. If the Assignments tool is not used, the developer should hide or delete the link to the Assignments tool page. Quizzes, Tests & Exams Desire2Learn calls its testing tool the "Quizzes" The name is somewhat misleading because this is the same tool that should be used for major tests and exams. Desire2Learn questions may include multiple choice, true/false, multiple response, short answer (fill-in-the-blank), calculated (includes random numbers), matching, and paragraph (open response) questions. All except the paragraph question can be graded by the computer. The Quiz Tool is already added to the course - it should not be added again. All quizzes, tests, and exams will be listed on the same quiz tool page. These quizzes and tests may be organized by subject, chronologically, or by importance (quizzes in one place, tests in another). Individual quizzes should be placed in the table of contents of the appropriate content module (either interspersed within the content in the order they should be taken or at the end in a separate section for quizzes). Including the quizzes (& tests) in the table of contents will make them available as links in the calendar. Each quiz created is automatically included in the gradebook. Some developers have used FrontPage forms for evaluation in the past. These forms are NOT appropriate for RODP courses and should be converted to Desire2Learn quizzes. The construction of questions and quizzes is a subject usually requiring at least a couple of hours of instruction. Please seek further training opportunities especially for evaluation techniques. Third party quiz construction software products are available. Respondus is recommended. It has a free and commercial version. Some developers find Respondus more user-friendly for quizzing, testing, and surveying student development. Also, it offers randomization in presenting test/quiz items to students, which is especially useful in avoiding proctored tests and quizzes. Regents Online Degree Program Standards and Template Guidelines Page 11

12 RODP offers an on-campus infrastructure of proctoring for students. Course developers who wish to use proctored exams may build a requirement for proctored midterm and final examination into their courses. Proctors are available at all the TBR institutions. Each semester a set of dates for the proctored midterms and finals are announced early in the term for professors' convenience. Calendar The calendar can be linked to many pages which appear in the table of contents of a content module. This includes quizzes and content pages. The major dates within the course should be linked to the calendar. To create a link, click on the number of the day in the calendar. There will be an Add entry button. During the add process there will be a drop down menu to choose an Internal link. The student may view a global calendar with entries for all enrolled courses. The calendar dates may also be downloaded to the student's handheld (Palm OS). Summary The instructions written herein are included for two reasons. Developers new to D2L and teaching online will hopefully appreciate the guidelines. Experienced D2L instructors will need to read these instructions so that they do not inadvertently breach an RODP convention not used for independent D2l courses. These instructions are intended to relate the big picture of RODP course development. Specific skills such as web page creation or question and quiz creation will require specific training sessions either through the RODP or at the local level. The RODP staff stands ready to assist course designers in the development of their RODP course. Please ask for individual assistance or attend group training sessions as needed. The RODP Faculty Development D2L course is available to all course developers from their My Homepage screen using the same username and password as the course under development. Regents Online Degree Program Standards and Template Guidelines Page 12

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