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EIU Faculty Development and Innovation Center


Online Learning Consortium official logo

Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Standards:

The OLC Quality Scorecard provides a holistic framework for evaluating and improving online education at both the course and institutional levels. The mission of the OLS is to creating community and knowledge around quality online, blended, and digital learning while driving innovation. OLC offers a robust suite of Quality Scorecards which can be used to evaluate elements of quality within online courses and programs, providing guidance for individuals and institutions in achieving and demonstrating an overall level of quality to potential students and higher education accrediting bodies.

Key characteristics:

  1. Comprehensive approach: Covers institutional strategy, course design, and delivery.
  2. Flexibility: Allows for adaptation to different institutional contexts.
  3. Community-driven: Developed through collaboration with educators and institutions.
  4. Focus on innovation: Encourages the use of new technologies and pedagogies.
  5. Less prescriptive: May not provide as much specific guidance as QM but encourages consulation with instructional design experts.
  6. Flexible review process: Rahther than the structured peer-review system of QM, OLC focuses on self-assessment, continued self-monitoring, and improvement.

Below is a table comparing OLC and QM in key course design and instrution standards:

Course Design Standards

Online Learning Consortium

Quality Matters

Course Learning Objectives and Alignment

Stresses the importance of learning objectives

Focuses on broader alignment with program and institutional goals

Encourages flexibility in how objectives are formulated and assessed


Emphasizes clear, measurable learning objectives

Requires strong alignment between objectives, assessments, and materials

Provides specific criteria for writing and evaluating learning objectives


Instructional Practices and Pedagogy

 Addresses both course design and delivery

Promotes active learning and student engagement strategies

Encourages innovative pedagogical approaches and use of technology

Focuses on course design rather than delivery

Encourages use of varied instructional materials and activities

Emphasizes accessibility and usability of course components

Assessment and Feedback

Addresses assessment design and implementation

Encourages diverse assessment methods

Emphasizes the importance of timely and constructive feedback

Encourages regular and substantive interaction

Requires clear grading policies and assessment criteria

Emphasizes alignment of assessments with learning objectives

Focuses on the design of assessment tools

Student Support and Engagement

Takes a broader view, including institutional support services

Addresses strategies for promoting student engagement and interaction

Focuses on providing clear instructions and resources within the course

Emphasizes course-level support mechanisms


Faculty Support and Development

Addresses faculty support more comprehensively

Includes standards for ongoing faculty development in online teaching

Primarily focuses on training faculty in course design

Offers professional development through the review process

Digital Accessibility

Addresses accessibility throughout its quality framework rather than as a standalone standard

Considers accessibility at both course and institutional levels

Includes considerations for diverse learner needs beyond technical accessibility

Incorporates principles of UDL throughout its standards

Dedicates a specific standard (Standard 8) to accessibility and usability

Provides detailed, specific criteria for making course materials accessible

Includes guidelines for alt text, captions, transcripts, and color contrast

Incorporates principles of UDL throughout its standards

Technology Integration

Provides broader guidelines for technology integration

Encourages innovative use of emerging technologies

Focuses on the effective use of technology to support learning objectives

Emphasizes accessibility and user-friendliness of technology

Continuous Improvement

Encourages continuous improvement at course, program, and institutional levels

Provides frameworks for ongoing evaluation and enhancement


Emphasizes ongoing course refinement through the review process

Focuses on improving individual courses


Cultural Responsiveness and Diversity

Includes more explicit standards related to cultural diversity and inclusivity

Encourages culturally responsive teaching practices

Addresses accessibility and universal design

Limited explicit focus on cultural responsiveness

Downloadable table: OLC QM Comparison (PDF)


The written information and resources are developed or curated by the 

Faculty Development and Innovation Center

phone 217-581-7051 :: email :: web

Contact the FDIC for instructional design related questions or to schedule a consultation appointment. The FDIC staff can recommend instructional design strategies for your online, hybrid, and face-to-face courses.

Last updated: June 27, 2024

Related Pages

Contact Information

Dr. Michael Gillespie, Director, FDIC


Kim Ervin
Instructional Designer


Faculty Development and Innovation Center

1105 Booth

David Smith
Instructional Support and Training Specialist


Keerthana Saraswathula
Instructional Support and Training Specialist


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