Skip to Main Content

Loyola University Online Course Standards: Home

Loyola University Online Course Standards

I.  Standard Content Areas

At a minimum, each course will include the following Content Areas

A. Course Information

1) Announcements (set as default landing page for all courses)

2) Syllabus and Course Schedule 

3) Orientation (This provides a brief walk through the course navigation and layout)

B. Content

1) Learning Modules

2) Discussion Boards

a. One open discussion board forum where students can post questions about course

3) Assignments (optional)

C. Tools 

1) Calendar 

2) My Grades

3) Library Resources (Library Resources should also be integrated into weekly Learning Modules)

4) A HELP link pointing to:

**Additionally: Default online banners can be replaced by instructors to be more course specific. However, Loyola University affiliation must remain clear. 

II.  Introduction to the Course

Instructor can utilize a number of methods to welcome students to the course and provide a course overview and establish expectations. Faculty can introduce students using a manner faculty deems appropriate for course, level, and instructional needs. For any introduction, the following should be considered for inclusion. For example from Quality Matters:

A. University Welcome Videos: These videos will give online students a sense of the university and program.
B. Navigation: Instructions make clear how to get started and where to find various course component, e.g. calendars, assignments, readings, contact info, Canvas Grading Center. 
C. Course Purpose: Learners are introduced to the purpose and structure of the course. 
D. Etiquette expectations (sometimes called “netiquette”) for online discussions, email, and other forms of communication are clearly stated. 
E. Course and/or institutional policies with which the learner is expected to comply are clearly stated, or a link to current policies is provided. 
F. Minimum technology requirements are clearly stated and instructions for use provided. 
G. Prerequisite knowledge in the discipline and/or any required competencies are clearly stated. 
H. Minimum technical skills expected of the learner are clearly stated. 
I. Instructor Introduction: The self-introduction by the instructor is appropriate and is available online. 
J. Introductory Discussion Board: Learners are asked to introduce themselves to the class.

III.  Syllabus Content Area

A syllabus conforming to university and department policies must be included, in text copy and pasted into the Canvas text editor window and as a downloadable PDF. The PDF format ensures accessibility. The template, including the elements required by the University, appears below:

University Syllabus Template #1 - #6
1. Instructor’s Name
2. Contact Information (i.e., office location, telephone number, email address, office hours)
3. Course name, number, and term of the current course (e.g., Fall 2010)
4. Brief Course Overview
5. Required reading materials and texts. Instructors should consult with their Monroe Library Liaison in order to rely on Affordable Learning texts, if possible. The university bookstore must be informed of any required textbooks. 

  • Title
  • Author
  • Edition
  • ISBN
  • List of any other required materials, e.g. media, library materials, etc.
  • List of course fees (if applicable) 
  • Note: If the textbook information is not available when your syllabus is posted, you may indicate“to be determined.”

6. A statement concerning each of the following elements required in the syllabus (Quality Matters standards are indicated by italics)

  • Expected Student Learning Course Outcomes. These should be consistent with the learning outcomes specified by the program/department and posted on its Intranet site. 

"2.3 All learning objectives or competencies are stated clearly and written from the learner’s perspective. 
"2.4 The relationship between learning objectives or competencies and course activities is clearly indicated. 
"2.5 The learning objectives or competencies are suited to the level of the course."

  • Types of Assignments 

"5.2 Learning activities provide opportunities for interaction that support active learning. 
"5.3 The instructor’s plan for classroom response time and feedback on assignments is clearly stated." 

  • Sequence Of Topics/Calendar of Assignments

Specific due dates are required for all course activities (e.g., discussion boards, assignments, quizzes, and examinations). 

  • Course grading policy.

"3.3 Specific and descriptive criteria are provided for the evaluation of learners’ work and are tied to the course grading policy. Faculty must grade and provide feedback for assignments in a timely fashion." 

Note: if there is any information in your syllabus that is subject to change, please note this in the appropriate place(s). 

  • Policy statements covering Attendance/Absences, Late or Delinquent Work, Participation/Behavior expected in class, and Cheating and Plagiarism should also be included. Faculty uses their expertise, as well as plagiarism software (such as SafeAssign), literature searches, and a variety of other tools and techniques to assure students do not commit plagiarism. Faculty has the option of using tools available. 
  • The following statement MUST be included regarding disability services and accommodations:

    Students needing academic accommodations for a disability must first be registered with the Office of Disability Services (ODS) to verify the disability and to establish eligibility for accommodations.  If you perceive disability-related barriers in a course, please let the ODS know immediately.  ODS welcomes your feedback that will assist in improving the usability and experience for all students. Loyola is committed to offering classes that are inclusive in their design. ODS contact information is as follows:

    Marquette Hall, Room 112  
    504-865-2990 (front office)


    Cautionary note (which is NOT intended for inclusion on the syllabus) for all instructors: Please note that compliance with federal legislation prohibits denying a student accommodations solely on the basis of a student missing a deadline for submitting an Accommodation Form. Student eligibility for accommodations is authorized by the Office of Disability Services.

  • The following emergency statements must be included on each syllabus:

At times, ordinary university operations are interrupted as a result of tropical storms, hurricanes, or other emergencies that require evacuation or suspension of on-campus activities. To prepare for such emergencies, all students will do the following during the first week of classes:

1. Practice signing on for each course through Canvas.
2. Provide regular and alternative e-mail address and phone contact information to each instructor.

In the event of an interruption of a course due to the result of an emergency requiring an evacuation or suspension of campus activities, students will:

3. Pack textbooks, assignments, syllabi and any other needed materials for each course and bring during an evacuation/suspension
4. Keep up with course work during the evacuation/suspension as specified on course syllabi and online Canvas courses.
5. Complete any reading and/or writing assignments given by professors before emergency began.

Assuming a power source is available:

6. Log on to university website within 48 hours of an evacuation/suspension.
7. Monitor the main university site ( for general information.
8. Log on to each course through Canvas or e-mail within 48 hours of an evacuation/suspension to receive further information regarding contacting course instructors for assignments, etc.
9. Complete Canvas and/or other online assignments posted by professors. Students are required to turn in assignments on time during the evacuation/suspension period and once the university campus has reopened.
10. Contact professors during an evacuation/suspension (or as soon as classes resume on campus) to explain any emergency circumstances that may have prevented them from completing expected work.

Further information about student responsibilities in emergencies is available on the Academic Affairs web site:

IV.  Course Materials Content Area

Course materials are organized into learning modules. While it is preferred that the modules be organized according to a weekly schedule, it is permissible to organize modules according to course material units or topics. Materials within each module can be organized according to the elements below; however, this is encouraged and not required. 

  • Learning Objectives
  • Readings
  • Media (if none, it will be taken out)
  • Lecture Material
  • Discussion Board
  • Assignment

In preparation, course content, tests, assignments, and activities must be built in a course before the scheduled first day of course. Faculty can revise, subtract, or add content throughout the course term with consideration to student and faculty needs. Before the first day of class, faculty must verify all links to materials outside of Loyola’s Canvas and Monroe Library databases are functioning properly. 

V.  Course Activities and Learner Interaction

1. From Quality Matters:

"5.1 The learning activities promote the achievement of the stated learning objectives or competencies. 
"5.2 Learning activities provide opportunities for interaction that support active learning. 
"5.3 The instructor provides a statement ensuring feedback on assignments and responses to ema
ils in a timely fashion." 

2. Student Engagement – Courses should be asynchronous; however, Program Directors can make exceptions for specific courses when necessary. Courses must provide sufficient asynchronous and/or synchronous opportunity for student-to-student and student-faculty engagement, which reflects time expected for the credit allocation for the course. Opportunities for student to student and /or student to instructor engagement, can rely on, for example:

  • Discussion board
  • Shared documents using Google Docs or other collaborative platform
  • Chat
  • Google Hangout
  • Adobe Connect, Canvas Collaborate, or other online conferencing tools

VI.  Accessibility and Usability of Teaching Materials

1. From Quality Matters:

"8.1 Course navigation facilitates ease of use. 
"8.2 Information is provided about the accessibility of all technologies in the course. For example, if there is a streaming film, provide students with instructions for requesting a closed captioned version from the course instructor or the Monroe Library. 
"8.3 The course provides alternative means of access to course materials in formats that meet the needs of diverse learners. Loyola relies on Canvas Ally to help ensure accessibility of all materials. An explanation of Canvas Ally and how to access automatically generated accessible materials should be provided here. 
"8.4 The course design facilitates readability. Basic fonts and page layouts are used. Instructional designers will work with faculty to ensure course design readability." 

  • Documents prepared by the instructor for use by students should be provided in Microsoft Office and/or Adobe Acrobat file formats (.docx, xlsx, .pptx, or .pdf). Other file formats can be included in courses that require the use of particular programs (SPSS, Google Docs, etc.).

As far as practically achievable, teaching materials must conform to accessibility guidelines described at: Faculty should leverage software such as Ally or iLos for closed captioning, and work with the Office of Disability Services to assure appropriate capacity. 

2. Every effort must be made to provide subtitles for video materials in order to meet necessary accommodations for persons with disabilities.

3. All scanned documents must be of sufficient quality for text-to-voice processing by reader software. This means illegible, poorly formatted (e.g., scanned sideways) or poorly copied documents cannot be used in courses. Instructional designers and librarians will work with faculty to ensure readability of documents during the course design process. 

4. Electronic links to library holdings and articles in research databases must include any necessary proxies to ensure that students can access materials whether on campus or off. Proxies for access to Loyola Library databases are described at: Librarians will work with faculty and instructional designers to ensure access to library research databases. 

5. Library holdings should be linked to within the library database, as opposed to downloading PDFs from library databases and then re-uploading to Canvas.

​VII. Procedural Guidelines

For the instructor regarding Management of Student Work and Conduct - SafeAssign, Grades, Assignments

1. As far as practical, all student work (tests, quizzes, essays, discussion board posts, etc.) is to be submitted online, within Canvas. The most expeditious way to facilitate this criterion is to link every item with a gradebook link, whether there is a “check” grade, letter grade, or numeric grade anticipated for the item. 

2. Faculty expectations regarding the file format for each assignment must be clearly indicated in assignment material (for example, Microsoft Word, Excel, SPSS, MP3 or MP4, etc.). 

3. Faculty must provide written feedback to students, and all feedback should be contained within Canvas or originated in Canvas editing. Collaborative and iterative work can be completed on other online platforms, such as Google Docs or Google Sites, or faculty can facilitate feedback by downloading, commenting, and uploading material back to Canvas. Feedback can be written in Canvasas well. 

4. If such documents form part of a student’s grade, the instructor is responsible for maintaining copies of such documents for a minimum of two calendar years after the end of the course. [Not sure what this means…. If in Canvas, then university is responsible for archiving… if outside of Canvasthen faculty has to maintain. Where is the policy that says two years?]

5. Plagiarism is a challenging problem. SafeAssign software can be used to facilitate detecting plagiarism, and the easiest way to use SafeAssign is to link directly with SafeAssign in the assignment/gradebook link. Essays should be processed automatically through SafeAssign for plagiarism checking. However, faculty are not required to use SafeAssign in their courses.

6. When faculty require use of SafeAssign by students, faculty is responsible for advising in parameters of the assignment, and specifically the required format for a SafeAssign-linked assignment. 

7. When using SafeAssign, instructors are encouraged to set assignments to allow students to see the SafeAssign report. This provides students with the opportunity to correct their work before submission.

8. The rating number produced by SafeAssign for each submission cannot be the sole basis for determining whether or not plagiarism occurred. Plagiarism can only be determined by the instructor after a careful inspection of the submission. There is no “acceptable” SafeAssign score above “0” that indicates no plagiarism was noted.

9. Grades recorded in Canvas must give students an accurate and reasonably up-to-date understanding of their position in the course throughout the term. 

10. If possible, approximately half of the semester assignments and grading should be done by mid-term, to allow students to assess their progress in the course. 

11. Materials should either be commented on and graded in Canvas , or graded materials with comments should be re-uploaded to Canvas for student access. 

12. Grades for individual assignments should be recorded in a timely manner. This includes posting zeroes for missed deadlines, since failing to do so can falsely inflate a student’s apparent course grade. 

13. Grading for all graded material in the course must be reflected in the electronic gradebook in Canvas. Faculty should consider using a running grade total throughout the course period, because a running total grade is particularly helpful to students. 

14. Monitor the open discussion board forum for student questions. The instructor is responsible for checking and responding to posts in the open discussion board forum in a timely fashion. 

15. Policies that govern enrollment, student information, and student records 

16. Student information must reflect LORA and SIS (e.g., no nickname usage in place of legal name). 

17. Loyola's Online Learning Team enrolls students and faculty of record only into courses, unless directed by the faculty of record or department chair to do otherwise.  

VIII.  Final Notes

These guidelines should be referred to by program directors as the foundation for developing department-specific standards.