Online + Hybrid Courses

Developing an Online or Hybrid Course

CCS Online Course Rubric

The Online Course Rubric is based on effective practices in online learning and teaching, and it covers a range of areas, including course design, instruction, assessment, and student support. This rubric is a valuable tool for faculty and departments who are developing and teaching online courses, and will help us ensure that all of our online courses are of the highest quality.

Online Facilitation Resources

Online course delivery and facilitation requires a more-structured experience for distance learning students. To learn more about developing your online course check out our “Blazing New Trails for Online Student Engagement” interactive learning experience, that will walk you through the five major areas for developing a quality online course:

  • Regular and Substantive Interaction
  • Assignments
  • Grade Book
  • Course Content
  • Instructions
  • BONUS: Additional Resources

Instructional Design at CCS

The Ed Tech team provides one-on-one course development through an instructional design approach in collaboration with faculty. This process works in collaboration with Department Chairs and Academic Affairs.

The Department Chair or Dean can initiate this process by emailing the Director of ET+I to begin the process of prioritizing course and program development. Once the course development process begins an Instructional Designer will reach out to the faculty who is assigned to work on this course development.

Phased Process

This process has 3 phases.

1. Discovery Phase (1-2 weeks)

The Discovery Phase consists of 3-4 one-hour sessions with the instructional designer (ID) and faculty expert (subject matter expert or SME). The goals of this phase are to:

  • review the major assignments/projects based on the Assignment/Project Brief Template
  • establish a course development timeline
  • discover the SME’s approach to student engagement and meeting course outcomes
  • show examples of technologies and integrations

The ID will work with the SME to complete the Discovery Process template.

2. Blueprint Phase (4-6 weeks)

Using the information gathered during the Discovery Phase, the Blueprint Phase focuses on course learning outcomes and major course assessments to build the weekly course outline through a backward design process.

The output for this process is a completed Course Blueprint and Module Storyboards.

3. Course Building Phase (6-8 weeks)

Faculty work with Instructional Designers to develop accessible and interactive content based on the specifications developing during the Blueprint Phase.

Department Chair signoff will occur at the 25%, 50%, and 100% course completion points.

Above timelines are estimates used for illustrative purposes and are dependent on each course’s development project and faculty availability.

Instructional Design Phases

Why Use This Approach?

Courses developed through the three-phase instructional design approach are thoughtfully created with accessibility, scaffolding, and sequencing in mind. Cognitive load and time on task are also closely observed during the development process. Courses created through this approach are designed for alignment with the assessments and course learning outcomes with a focus on the overall student experience.

Regular and Substantive Interaction Policy for Online Courses

Student-teacher interactions are an integral part of the learning environment here at CCS, which includes the online learning environment. Focusing on regular and substantive interaction, whether synchronous or asynchronous, not only maintains our compliance with the Department of Education, but delivers the quality of education consistent with what we’ve grown accustomed to at the college.

The U.S. Department of Education requires that all online course offerings must incorporate “regular and substantive interaction between students and instructors.” Regular interaction is defined as on a “scheduled and predictable basis,” and must be initiated by the faculty member AND be concerning the course material.

To reinforce the importance of student and instructor engagement and assure RSI, CCS requires that faculty spend a minimum of 5 days per week interacting with students and responding to course inquiries.

Examples of RSI include:

  • Scheduling video conferencing meetings to discuss the individual student’s progress in the class.
  • Posting a discussion board to reinforce concepts learned in the module’s lecture and actively responding to posts.
  • Providing a written critique on students’ work in progress.
  • Asking a student to visit you during office hours or to schedule a phone call or video conference with you.
  • Posting weekly announcements and sending messages regarding learnings within the class.
  • Holding a required online review session every other week during the semester.
  • Sending a message previewing concepts introduced in the next unit and listing questions for students to have in mind when reading the course material.
  • Identifying students struggling to reach the outcomes through observation of discussion activity, assessment completion, or even user activity and offer additional opportunities for interaction.
  • Using working/study groups that are moderated by the instructor.

It is important to note that each of these methods is initiated by the faculty member AND are about the content being covered in the class.

Interactions NOT Considered RSI include:

  • A student reaching out via email, phone, text for additional help.
  • A faculty member checking in on a student’s well-being (although encouraged, this is not a form of RSI.)
  • Optional/supplemental recorded webinars, videos, and reading materials.
  • Contact with instructors not related to the course subject matter.
  • Sending a welcome message during the first week of class and another around mid-semester.
  • Reminding students of the course attendance policy.
  • Providing an open-ended online forum that is not moderated by the instructor.
  • A student dropping in during regularly scheduled open office hours.
  • Adding grades to the course gradebook.
  • Encouraging students to participate in an optional, one-time online critique session.
  • Posting an announcement about an upcoming assignment deadline.


Attendance in Online Classes

For classes that are taught online, faculty must document whether students have been academically engaged at least once in the first two weeks of their online class. See the bolded activities below for examples that meet this engagement as defined by the US Department of Education for financial aid eligibility.

The following is quoted from the Federal Student Aid Handbook.

For distance education, documenting that a student has logged into an online class is not sufficient to demonstrate academic attendance by the student. A school must demonstrate that a student participated in class or was otherwise engaged in an academically related activity. Examples of acceptable evidence of academic attendance and attendance at an academically related activity in a distance education course/program include, but are not limited to:

  • student submission of an academic assignment,
  • student submission of an exam,
  • documented student participation in an interactive tutorial, webinar or other interactive or computer-assisted instruction,
  • a posting by the student showing the student’s participation in an online study group that is assigned by the institution,
  • a posting by the student in a discussion forum showing the student’s participation in an online discussion about academic matters, and
  • an email from the student or other documentation showing that the student-initiated contact with a faculty member to ask a question about the academic subject studied in the course.

Please note that only active participation by a student in an instructional activity related to the student’s course of study meets the definition of “academic engagement”.