Applied Information Management

Faculty-Centered Online Course Development Models

The purpose of this bibliography is to provide an overview of selected faculty-centered, peer reviewed online higher education course development models. In online teaching contexts, a course development model may reflect a systems approach to structuring the production of teaching courseware by targeting specific learning objectives and aligning them with both learning and interactive media strategies, utilizing a range of expertise. Accredited (and non-accredited) institutions may purchase courseware; may use teams of program faculty and instructional designers to develop courses; or individual faculty may incorporate varying strategies and online sources into existing curriculum; these methods may or may not follow guidelines or standards recommended by state, regional, and nonprofit online higher education quality oversight agencies.

A standards-driven model provides a framework for quality rather than similarity.

The bibliography summarizes thirty references that present online course development models including processes and standards measures as prescribed by membership organizations or other peer-governed oversight. The specific goal is to examine online course development models that incorporate at least one of these three key aspects: (a) standards-driven faculty development for online instruction; (b) faculty perception of the fit between a standards-driven online course model and the pedagogy or curriculum they utilize; and (c) effects of uniform online delivery on quality.

Faculty engagement is identified as the most important arbiter of quality assurance in online instruction. Faculty engagement (a) drives a conceptual framework to be implemented in online instruction; (b) adopts and rewards the process of professional development; and (c) structures the selection and enculturation of a set of quality standards and processes for online course development and peer review.

The function of standards for course development in relationship to faculty engagement is one of opportunity; the deliberation required to accomplish any of the steps of selection, implementation, development, or institutional valuing provides for meaningful reflection on and improvement in professional practices. Through a process of self-directed appraisal, faculty can examine the potential fit between a standards-driven online course model for instruction and the pedagogy or curriculum they utilize.

Selected Standards Models to Support Online Instruction (from Shelton, 2011)
Benchmarks for Success in Internet Based Education Twenty-four benchmarks or attributes of quality in seven themes: institutional support; course development; teaching and learning; course structure; student support; faculty support, and evaluation and assessment. (Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP), 2000. Authors: Merisotis, J., & Phipps, R.)
Best Practices for Electronically Offered Degree and Certificate Programs Five categories for quality evaluation used by accreditation bodies: curriculum and instruction; institutional context and commitment; faculty support; student support; and evaluation and assessment. (Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications (WCET), 2001).
Five Pillars of Quality Learning effectiveness; student satisfaction; faculty satisfaction; scale; and access. (Sloan Consortium, 2002).
Quality Standards in e-Learning Nine themes of published quality standards in the U.S.: institutional and executive commitment; technological infrastructure; student services; instructional design and course development; instruction and instructors; program delivery; financial health; legal and regulatory compliance; and program evaluation. (Frydenberg, J., 2002).


  • Frydenberg, J. (2002). Quality standards in e-learning: A matrix of analysis. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 3(2). Retrieved from IRRODL website.
  • Merisotis, J., & Phipps, R. (2000). Quality on the line: Benchmarks for success in Internet-based distance education. Washington, DC: Institute for Higher Education Policy. Retrieved from IHEP website.
  • Quality Matters. (2011). Rubric for online and hybrid courses. Retrieved from Quality Matters Program website.
  • Shelton, K., (2011). A review of paradigms for evaluating the quality of online education programs. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 4(1). Retrieved from: OJDLA website.
  • Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications. (2001). Principles of good practice for electronically offered academic degree and certificate programs. Boulder, CO: Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). Retrieved from: WCET website.
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AIM alumna Linda Mears

Research Paper Author: Linda Mears, communications director, College of Education, University of Oregon—2011 University of Oregon, AIM Program Graduate. This study received the 2011 Director's Capstone Research Award.

Abstract: The engagement of faculty in development, course design, and peer review is central to quality online instruction. Thirty refereed case studies of standards-driven online course development in higher education since 2004 are annotated and analyzed for common principles, procedures, or recommended practices. Discussion explores strategic planning for faculty and online administrators, including four phases of implementation, faculty support needs, barriers to engagement, and instructional and technology characteristics faculty must weigh carefully in specific pedagogical designs.

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