Format, Rigor and Integrity

Format, Rigor and Integrity

The Office of Distance Education and eLearning measures online course quality based on the following standards, which were developed using prevailing literature in the field and experience designing online courses at Ohio State.

Course Format and Pacing

University policies and recommendations ensure that online courses are equivalent in quality to in-person courses.

Students have opportunities to have regular and substantive academic interactions with the instructor.

This Department of Education requirement is based on the types of courses that Ohio State is accredited to offer. 


Students have a required participation activity such as a discussion response or assignment at least once each week.

This is to ensure that the online instructor can pinpoint the time that student last participated in the course, which is an institutional requirement related to student financial aid.

Learning outcomes and instruction time are equivalent to an in-person class of the same number of credit hours.

Online courses must meet federal guidelines for equivalent "direct instruction" and "out-of-class" time.

The syllabus provides clear expectations about any required synchronous (live, scheduled) sessions.

Students often expect that online courses will be completely asynchronous (i.e. work can be done each week according to their own schedules). It’s crucial to make them aware of required synchronous sessions — ideally both in the syllabus and in the class schedule in BuckeyeLink.


Academic Integrity

The course syllabus includes online-specific policies about academic integrity.

This information will help students know what the academic integrity expectations are for the online courses and at the university.

Major assignments include specific academic integrity parameters in the directions. 

Students need to know if they are or are not allowed to work in groups, use past works, use notes or the book, etc.


Course technologies such as online proctoring or plagiarism check or other strategies are in place to deter cheating.

This will assist in monitoring students if specific academic integrity criteria are being met when taking turning in artifacts, quizzes, midterms, final exams or other electronic submissions for grading.