Remote/Online Course Design Checklist

Airplane flyingThe following provides a roadmap for instructors during the remote course design process or as a “pre-flight check” tool using the rubric and suggested examples. This practical framework highlights key components essential to a high-quality learning experience for students. Downloadable versions are provided for individual use or program adaptation.

Note: Some items may not be applicable to all course contexts.

Course Element Resources and Notes


Information about being an online learner and support services in introductory module on Quercus course site. Link to “Getting Ready for Online” support page
Provide links to student resources:

Use information and links provided in Quercus course template
Course specific resources including welcome and getting started content.
Orientation or overview of the course overall, to help learners navigate. Add How This Course Works page
Learning outcomes and an activity list for each module, outlining tasks that are due. Add Module Intro pages
Contact information and short biography for the instructor, and co-instructor(s) and TA(s), if applicable.
Guidelines for student-instructor interactions (i.e., channels for different types of questions and timelines for response).
Contact information for the academic department or registrar.
Syllabus (with download/print option).
Links or reference to relevant information on academic integrity, course equity, diversity and inclusion. Examples in Quercus course template
Information on access to any accompanying texts or materials not available on the course website.


A list of technical competencies and resources necessary for course completion is provided. Link to minimum technical requirements page 
Requisite skills for using technology tools (websites, software, and hardware) are clearly stated and supported with resources.
Technical skills required for participation in course learning activities scaffold in a timely manner (orientation, practice, and application — where appropriate).
Frequently used technology tools are easily accessed. Any tools not being utilized are hidden from the course menu in Quercus. Link to guide on managing course navigation links
Links are provided to learner supports for tools provided within Quercus to enhance learning. Institutionally supported tools are used when possible. Link to Quercus support for students and refer to the Ed Tech Catalogue for a list of supported tools


Students are encouraged to become active learners and contribute to the online course community.
Introductory announcement or email sent to students providing them information on how to access the course. Remember to make your course available!
Expectations for interaction are clearly stated (netiquette, grade weighting, models/examples, and timing and frequency of contributions). Consider netiquette rules for online courses (edit for your course)
Course contains resources or activities intended to build a sense of class community, support open communication, and establish trust (ie. ice-breaker, introductory discussion forums).
Learners are encouraged to share resources, individual observations/experiences or integrate knowledge to support peers as a community.


Course site tools are used to effectively organize and deliver course content, and to allow students to navigate with ease. Refer to tips and strategies on building a course in Quercus
A logical, consistent, and uncluttered layout is established. The course is easy to navigate (use of colour or icons, related content grouped, self-evident titles).
Large blocks of information are divided into manageable sections with white space around and between the blocks of text.
Instructions are provided and content is well written and has been proofread.


Course follows accessibility and universal design principles that are critical to some learners and that benefit all learners. Refer to Accessibility and Quercus support resource
Text is formatted with titles, headings, and other styles to enhance readability and improve the structure of the document.
There is enough contrast between text and background for the content to be easily viewed
Text equivalents are provided for visual and audio elements (“alt” tags, captions, transcripts, etc.).
Hyperlink text is descriptive and makes sense when out of context (avoid using “click here” or “read more”).


Students have the opportunity to interact with the content, their peers, and their instructor(s). Review strategies for active learning
Access is offered to a variety of engaging resources that facilitate communication and collaboration, deliver content, and support learning and engagement.
Activities are provided for learners to develop higher-order thinking and problem-solving skills, such as critical reflection and analysis.
Activities are included that emulate real world applications of the discipline, such as experiential learning, case studies, and problem-based activities when applicable.
Open Educational Resources, free, or low-cost materials are used when available. See Open UToronto and UofT Library resources
Modeling academic integrity, instructor appropriately cites all resources and materials used throughout the course.


Clear outline of process and criteria for evaluation of the achievement of the learning outcomes. Refer to CTSI’s “Assessing Learning” website
Learning outcomes for each unit/module are connected to relevant activities and assessment. Outcomes use active verbs, are specific and measurable. Refer to Bloom’s Taxonomy
Faculty course grading policies are followed. Clearly state consequences of late submissions in the course information area and syllabus.
Course provides learners a scaffolded progression through content, combining both graded assignments and formative feedback on mastery of content.
Criteria for the assessment of a graded assignment are clearly articulated (rubrics, exemplary work).
Learners have opportunities to review their performance and assess their own learning throughout the course (pre-tests, automated self-tests, reflective assignments, etc.).
Ensure assessments include tasks and questions that allow students to demonstrate that they have achieved the learning outcomes that you have identified.

This document was developed by Online Learning Strategies, University of Toronto, August 2020. Adaptation and distribution of this resource to address academic or divisional program needs is permitted and encouraged.

CC-BY 4.0