The guidance provided below outlines expectations for faculty developing and teaching fully online, asynchronous courses that offer graduate credit. These expectations, which adhere to research-based best practice in online course design and instruction, outline a standard of practice that provides a consistent, high-quality learning experience for students on fully online programs.


Requirements for Online Courses

All fully online, asynchronous courses must have the following characteristics:

  • Clearly communicated learning outcomes, course expectations, and requirements
  • Clearly communicated assignment parameters and deadlines
  • Incorporation of media and varied activities to support and engage diverse learners and learning preferences, and that meet US Department of Education requirements for Regular and Substantive Interaction
  • Accessible materials
  • Mechanisms for assessing student learning and offering feedback
  • Syllabi, including links to Middlebury policies governing student conduct and academic integrity, policies prohibiting discrimination and harassment, and policies ensuring accommodations for students with disabilities. Additional syllabi requirements may vary by Middlebury unit.

Faculty must use Middlebury’s chosen Learning Management System (LMS) for all courses unless granted permission by DLINQ to do otherwise. A final quality assurance check must be completed on an online course before it is launched.

Course Development and Assessment of Learning

Online courses and programs offered by Middlebury Institute Online are developed in partnership with DLINQ. The Online Program Development and Online Course Development pages offer more details about these processes.

Assessment of student learning is the responsibility of the instructor and must be planned during the course design process. DLINQ will support the faculty member in articulating the course learning outcomes, ensuring that the activities build students’ knowledge and skills in alignment with the intended outcomes, and that assignments, exams, performance tasks, and/or other tools for assessing student learning appropriately measure the students’ achievement of the learning outcomes.

Faculty have the right to expect a committed and appropriate level of effort and performance from their students. Conversely, students have the right to receive information as to what is expected of them in a course, including the general criteria for evaluation of their performance. Students should receive timely formative (in progress) and summative (final) feedback.


A credit hour is an amount of work, represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement. Middlebury Institute Online courses are designed for a minimum of 45 hours of Engaged Learning Time (ELT) expected of each student for each credit. Thus a 3-credit course should be designed for 135 hours of ELT. DLINQ will support faculty in the process of estimating ELT as they work with faculty to build online courses.

In Middlebury Institute Online courses, grades are recorded in the Learning Management System (LMS) gradebook, ensuring that students can see their progress. Grading policies and deadlines are established by Middlebury Institute Online and the Office of the Registrar.  Failure to comply with these policies may impact an instructor’s employment.


All online asynchronous courses should be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Middlebury’s Accessibility Policy. It is essential that our online courses are accessible to people with disabilities, meaning that they can independently use the course technologies and materials (without unreasonable delay) and have the same level of interactivity as those without disabilities. Students needing accommodations should contact the Office of Student Services, who will coordinate with faculty.

We require course videos to have captions and transcripts, and we assist in this process during course development. In addition to the legal requirement to make content accessible, accessibility is a key component of designing inclusive and equitable learning environments. For example, while video captions were designed to facilitate access to video content for people who are deaf and hard of hearing, they are also useful for students who are learning English, and to understand fast speech.

Inclusive design and universal design principles are recommended during the course design phase to make the courses as accessible as possible. Accessibility is a consideration in the quality assessment process administered at the end of each online course build process.

Ensuring Student Privacy

Student information is subject to legal privacy protections (as outlined in  section I.E.1 of this handbook) in online courses just as it is in traditional in-person learning. Instructors must not share student posts, photos, work, personal stories, etc. without permission. Additionally, expectations that students share personal information or stories within the course, or on public platforms, should allow for alternatives or opt-out to support students’ individual or cultural preferences.


The cost of course materials can be a barrier to student access to learning. Faculty should take steps to minimize the cost of materials for their courses, including:

  • Compare the cost of current textbook/materials to the cost of the textbook/materials previously used in the class
  • Compare the price between the current edition of the textbook and the previous edition to determine whether the previous edition may be available at a lower price
  • Compare the current edition of the textbook to previous editions to determine whether the the current edition is substantially different from previous versions; if no, use a previous edition if available at a lower price
  • Ensure that a digital version of the textbook/materials is available to purchase or rent
  • Create and/or use open-access textbooks and materials where possible.