Topic 2: Evaluation Criteria and Critique of Existing Courses
Instructor’s Notes


“We must adjust to changing times and still hold to unchanging principles.”

How do you evaluate an online course?

If you want to be successful at something, the first thing to ask is, "How is this going to be evaluated?"

There are many ways to evaluate courses, The following are four different types of evaluation criteria:

1. Evaluation criteria based on "The Seven Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education" by Arthur W. Chickering and Zelda F. Gamson

Most major academic institutions have developed evaluation criteria for online courses based on "The Seven Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education" by Arthur W. Chickering and Zelda F. Gamson

The Academic Senate of the California Community Colleges adopted this set of guidelines:

Guidelines for Good Practices: Effective Instructor-Student Contact in Distance Learning

Scott Hildreth, PhD developed a graphical grid exemplifiying the best practices outlined in the Academic Senate Guidelines.
"Teaching Online with WebCT"

The Academic Senate guidelines provide sound suggestions for how an instructor can use technology to teach online. It can also be used as evaluation criteria for judging how well a course or teacher utilizes the communication tools on the internet. However, the Academic Senate guidelines do not measure the course outcome--does the course ahcieve its goals and objectives?

Evaluating if a course achieves its goals and objectives is a difficult task and to be conclusive would involve evaluating the students skill or knowledge before and after the course. However, to some degree we can judge the effectiveness of the course based on its instructional design.

2. The Paul Allen Foundation Virtual Education Contest developed criteria for judging online courses

The goal of the contest was to try and select the best course based on
four principle criteria:
(1) creative use of technology
(2) sound instructional design
(3) integration of active learning
(4) evidence of educational effectiveness

3. In "Making Instruction Work" Robert F. Mager summerizes how he evaluates courses

"A course is effective to the degree that it accomplishes what it sets out to do accomplish. It is effecient to the degree it accomplishes its purpose with the least motion (time, effort, money)."

4. Key Questions for Online Courses

This tool can be used as an assessment tool or for brainstorming.

Review existing online courses

It is helpful to review existing online courses and critique them based on some criteria before developing your own. In the academic community this is called a literature review and in the business world it is called a market survey.

The reason we survey the field before beginning is:

  • to learn from others
  • to improve on what others have done, rather than duplicate what they have done
  • to immerse oneself in the world of online education





Developing an Effective Online Class
© Valerie Landau, 2001