Curriculum and Quality

A checklist for quality online design

These Quality Standards are designed for use in Non-award Non-traditional (NANT) offerings at the University of Tasmania (e.g. MOOCs). They are also useful for any University check of technological or learning and teaching standards in MyLO sites.

For formal internal or external reviews of the online elements of University of Tasmania unit design, use the Quality Matters rubric. The standards on this page complement the Quality Matters review process; by meeting this checklist, you are well on your way to meeting Quality Matters standards. You may choose to use this checklist first, and decide later to meet the Quality Matters standards to attain Level 4 (and 5) of the University of Tasmania Blended Learning Model 1-5 Framework.


These standards are designed specifically for developers of NANT at the University of Tasmania. They are most effective in helping develop high-quality online offerings when they are applied early at the design stage, and then throughout the implementation and review of an offering.

There are two aspects of online offering design covered by these standards: teaching and learning, and technological. The teaching and learning standards are related to those aspects of the offering that are directly and explicitly relevant to student learning. They focus on the learning design of the offering. The technological standards are related to those aspects of the offering design that will impact on student experience, or on future modifications to the offering, as a result of the way the technologies are set up. They focus on the technical, often 'behind-the-scenes', elements of the offering.

Section Standard Description Useful resources
1. Learning Outcomes provide a strong foundation for the rest of the course 1a. Learning outcomes are measureable and clearly stated

Each learning outcome, as written, can be observed, either by the learner themselves, or an external assessor.

The meaning of each learning outcome must be clear and understandable for a novice.

Intended Learning Outcomes webpage
1b. Learning outcomes are achievable within the parameters of the course

Each learning outcome on its own, and the set of learning outcomes together, must be able to be achieved within the nominal time expected for course completion.

The learning outcomes are able to be achieved by the target student cohort.

Intended Learning Outcomes webpage
2. Assessment measures the learning outcomes and provides meaningful feedback to learners 2a. Assessment provides an appropriate measure of student achievement of the learning outcomes

Each assessment task provides a clear measure of one or more of the course learning outcomes.

Together, the assessment measures every learning outcome.

Assessment webpage
2b. Assessment criteria and/or performance standards are clear and comprehensible

Specific assessment criteria are provided for each and every assessment task.

Performance standards are clearly described using language and information that is meaningful to the students.

Writing Assessment Criteria webpage
2c. Assessment provides meaningful feedback

All assessments are designed to enable students to receive meaningful feedback on their performance.

Where self-assessments are used in a course, the criteria and standards descriptions are clear and comprehensive enough to allow students to easily self-evaluate. (The provision of example work demonstrating specified standards would be effective to support self-assessment.)

3. Learning Activities and Content 3a. Learning activities support student achievement of the learning outcomes, as measured by the assessments

Each learning activity is directly relevant to one or more of the learning outcomes.

The learning activities provide opportunities for students to develop all skills, knowledge and understandings needed to complete the assessments.

Planning Learning Activities webpage
3b. Content is relevant to the learning outcomes

All the learning materials are suited to supporting student development of the learning outcomes, through the specified learning activities.

Content & Resources webpage
3c. Learning activities promote active learning

The activities provide opportunities for students to engage with the material in a number of different ways.

There are multiple opportunities for students to observe and/or practise the skills defined in the learning outcomes.

There are multiple opportunities for students to do something with the content.

Examples of Learning Activities webpage
3d. Content is presented in a variety of media

There are a range of media used to present content, and for students to interact with.

For example, the content includes two or more of the following types of materials - textual, multimedia, audio, video, visual, animated, interactive.

Formats and Media webpage
4. Communication and Navigation 4a. Learning Outcomes are clearly presented to students

The learning outcomes are clearly presented to students - this is best done on the landing page/homepage of the course, or with a clear link from this page.

4b. Assessment is clearly explained to students

The tasks that students are required to complete, and their connections to the learning outcomes are clearly presented, and accessible from the homepage.

The assessment criteria (and performance standards) are part of, or accessible from, the task descriptions and instructions.

Each assessment has a single location where all relevant information about it is available (i.e., students are not required to go to multiple locations to find all the information available for a single assessment task).

The requirements of each task are clear and comprehensible.

4c. Learning activities are clearly communicated to students

The purpose of each task is made clear to students.

Instructions about what to do, and how to do it are clear and comprehensible.

4d. The homepage makes clear to students expectations and how to get started

Instructions or information on the homepage make clear how to navigate through the entire course, and what to do first.

Information is provided on the homepage about the learning outcomes, assessments, and where to find help.

4e. Navigation between learning activities and assessments is clear and straightforward

There is a clear and simple approach to navigation that makes movement through the course and tracking of progress relatively easy for novices.

Section Standard Description Useful resources
1. Inline documentation is complete and useful 1a. Inline documentation is clearly and consistently formatted

Ensure that delineation of comments from code is obvious and standard, with use of sufficient white space, and potentially horizontal rules formed with characters.

Ensure that the same types of information are provided for each logical section and for each file.

Inline documentation pertaining to each file is positioned at the head of the file. Inline documentation pertaining to each logical section is positioned immediately preceding its section.

1b. Sufficient inline documentation exists for each code file

Every file containing code (i.e. HTML -- including .xhtml, .php, etc. – CSS and script files) contains information about the code author(s) and other contributors, date code begun, version, and any other information used to identify and classify the file. Supplementary information, such as change logs, may also exist.

1c. Sufficient inline documentation exists for each logical section of code

A logical section is a discrete portion of code that can be distinguished from other sections by determining its purpose. In HTML, logical sections are defined by semantic means (e.g. header, content, footer, etc.); in CSS, by style (e.g. containers, text, forms, or specific pages, etc.); and in scripts by procedural blocks (function definitions, distinct processes, etc.).

Information in each can be as succinct as a section heading, but may contain explanatory information in cases where code is particularly complex or specialised, and for any other reason when the code may be considered obscure. Variable and function names are defined.

1d. Inline documentation is appropriate, accurate and succinct

Comments may be as brief as providing logical section headings where appropriate

Inline documentation for JavaScript and other scripts explains clearly the parameters (if any) and return values (if any) of function definitions.

2. Design documentation is complete and useful 2a. Design documentation is appropriate and accurate

Design documentation is intended for other programmers in understanding the product design without the internal implementation details.

The types of design documentation required depends on the nature of the product.

For networking architecture, a network topology diagram including server names, roles and IP addresses is required.

Databases require an entity-relationship diagram and a data dictionary. Object-oriented programs require UML class diagrams.

APIs require datatype and function references.

All software requires user guides.

Ensure that a sufficient level of design documentation is available so that a person inexperienced in the product may understand crucial details.

2b. Release notes for each version of the product exist, with numbers corresponding to the version/release numbers in the inline documentation

At a minimum, must include a product name, release, number, release date, and a list of corrections, changes or enhancements in the release.

The version/release numbering system is logical, and indicates both major and minor releases.

3. Source code is valid 3a. HTML code is valid

All HTML code contains no validation errors using the W3C HTML validation check. Exceptions can be made for errors in code that is out of the control of the developers.

W3C HTML Validator
3b. CSS code is valid

All CSS code contains no validation errors using the W3C CSS validation check. Exceptions can be made for errors in code that is out of the control of the developers.

W3C CSS Validator
3c. JavaScript code is valid

All JavaScript code contains no major warnings using the JavaScript Lint check. Exceptions can be made for errors in code that are out of the control of the developers.

JavaScript Lint
4. Content is accessible 4a. Content is accessible to people with disabilities

The product conforms to WCAG 2.0 AA standards.

4b. Visual content is accessible to people with a visual impairment

The product conforms to WCAG 2.0 AA standards.

WebAIM Color Contrast Checker
5. Software is usable 5a. Software, including websites, are navigable

Navigation throughout the software, including websites, is logical and consistent. Ensure that the layout is consistent, and that design elements (such as icons) are used repetitively and purposefully.

Page titles and headings are meaningful and self-describing.

The context of each page is easily discernable on each page, by means of using breadcrumbs or some other navigational feature.

The home page is accessible from every site page.

5b. Textual content is presented appropriately

Content is grouped logically, with headings indicating a change of topic.

Fonts are legible on the screen, and the number of font families is minimal (between one and three).

White space enhances comprehension of the content, and reduces eye fatigue with large blocks of text.

Spelling, grammatical, punctuation, semantic and syntactical errors are minimal.

Formatting is used purposefully, for example, text is coloured differently from the body text to communicate key points or group similar items. Decorative formatting is avoided, especially when it distracts from the information presented.

5c. Non-text media content is presented appropriately

Images, videos and animations are used to enhance content, providing a richness to the information presented, rather than present an opportunity for distraction.

Images are appropriately sized in relation to the page layout, and the image's natural size is appropriate for the space allocated.

Audio is clear.

Video resolution is sufficient for comprehension, and the video window can be resized.

Videos are no longer than 15 minutes.

Video is viewable with frequent interruptions (i.e. is available in the smallest resolution possible without sacrificing comprehensibility).

6. Websites are platform neutral 6a. Websites display and perform appropriately across browsers on different desktop operating systems

Pages render appropriately on each of the latest stable releases of all major (desktop, tablet and mobile) browsers.

All interactive components function appropriately on each of the supported browsers.

Browse Happy

Can I Use
6b. Websites display and perform appropriately across a range of popular mobile devices (i.e. phones and tablets)

The websites are suitable for use on mobile devices.

W3C Mobile Validator
7. Required software is available 7a. Software is easily obtainable

All required software (installations or cloud services) are available by any means, such as download, purchase at a shop, subscription, etc.

All required software is available for both Windows and Mac desktop operating systems.

7b. Instructions are provided for the acquisition of required software

Information is provided for each piece of required software, including platform requirements, links to privacy policies, and links to accessibility statements (or messages that accessibility statements do not exist), at a minimum.

Instructions are provided for obtaining software service subscriptions where required.

Guidance is provided for alternative software where applicable.


Peer review

These documents below have been developed to facilitate peer review of offerings that have been developed using the quality checklist standards.
It is recommended that NANT offerings conduct a peer review of both technological standards and teaching and learning standards prior to the launch (consider time needed for potential redevelopment) as well as after the first running of the offering. It would likely be advantageous to ask different peers to conduct the review at each of these two stages.

Teaching and learning checklist worksheet (MS Word 35KB)

Technological checklist worksheet (MS Word 38KB)

These peer review worksheets could also be used by members of the teaching/development team for self-review as part of your quality assurance processes.


For more information about this checklist, or for general assistance with course quality or peer review processes, please contact the Tasmanian Institute of Learning and Teaching.