ION Professional eLearning Program and partner Illinois community colleges initially developed the Quality Online Course Initiative (QOCI) rubric and evaluation system in 1998. The rubric was updated in 2018 to reflect the research and best practices in online learning, as well as the changed technologies and practices in creating accessible courses.  The goal of this project remains: To help colleges and universities to improve accountability of their online courses.

The main objectives of this project were to:

  • create a useful evaluation tool (rubric) that can help faculty develop quality online courses
  • identify “best practices” in online courses
  • recognize faculty, programs, and institutions that are creating quality online courses

QOCI Rubric Categories

The first step of our process was to brainstorm criteria for what makes a quality online course. As we came up with our ideas, we noticed several patterns and overlapping information. Therefore, we decided to chunk the information in to six categories. Those categories and how each is defined within the rubic is listed below.

Each Category was then broken down into topics and finally individual critierion.

  1. Instructional Design
    Instructional Design refers to the analysis of learning needs and the systemic approach of developing an online course in a manner that facilitates the transfer of knowledge and skills to the learner through the use of a variety of instructional methods, which relate to multiple learning styles, strategies, and preferences.
  2. Communication, Interaction, and Collaboration 
    Communication, Interaction, and Collaboration addresses how the course design, assignments, and technology effectively encourage exchanges amongst the instructor, students, and content.
  3. Student Evaluation & Assessment 
    Student Evaluation and Assessment refers to the process your institution uses to determine student achievement and quality of work, including the assigning of grades.
  4. Learner Support and Resources 
    Learner Support and Resources refers to program, academic, and/or technical resources available to learners.
  5. Instructional Materials & Technologies
    Instructional materials and technologies refers to the design and use of documents, graphics, multimedia, and other technologies in a course that are under the course developer’s control.
  6. Accessibility
    Accessibility refers to the idea that our materials need to be accessible for everyone, and that course materials may require further modifications to make them so for people with physical, cognitive, or learning disabilities. 
  7. Course Evaluation 
    Course Evaluation refers to the processes and mechanisms used to elicit feedback from learners for the purpose of course improvement.

QOCI Rubric Evaluation Scale

We wanted to collect quantitative data to make comparing results within departments and/or institutions easier. We started with a six point Likert Scale; but we felt this did not allow for flexibility or weighting of criteria. Therefore, we decided to use narrative response types so that institutions could assign point values to each criterion as they see fit. This makes the tool more universal.

We recommend that institutions do not use this for evaluation purposes until standards have been introduced to faculty and design staff and benchmark data has been collected. The scale is below.

  • Non-Existent: The criterion is not present, but should be, based on course design and content; or present, but not appropriate for this course.
  • Developing: Some evidence of this criterion, but it needs to be presented more clearly or better developed.
  • Meets: Evidence of this criterion is clear and is appropriate for this course. More could possibly be added.
  • Exceeds: Evidence of this criterion is clear, appropriate for this course, and demonstrates practice that is exemplary in its use.
  • N/A: Not applicable based on course design and content.

QOCI Rubric & Checklist

The second version leaves out the evaluation marks or comments and serves only as a checklist for those wishing to design or redesign a course with these criteria in mind.

Creative Commons License

Quality Online Course Initiative Rubric by Illinois Online Network is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.