WIDS® Resource Library

Do You See Quality in Your Online Course?

Do You See Quality in Your Online Course?

What does it mean to provide a quality learning experience for online learners? The WIDS performance-based learning framework and software have always supported quality curriculum design. However, there is more to ensuring a quality online learning experience than starting with well-defined learning outcomes.

A closer look at the elements that define quality online learning became necessary for educators and trainers when the pandemic forced a quick shift to online development and delivery. While many raced to develop and deploy online offerings rapidly, WIDS delved into current online learning best practices and standards to determine how best to support WIDS software users, instructional designers, educators, and trainers on the frontlines of a rapidly changing learning environment.

Through an in-depth review of recognized online development and learning standards, WIDS was not surprised to find that our performance-based learning framework directly supports current best practices for online curriculum design. In addition, the analysis confirmed that our software supports the seamless development of the syllabi, learning plans, course outcome summaries, scoring guides, and rubrics recommended to provide learners with quality online learning experiences.

As a result of this analysis and a desire to provide course developers, online designers, educators, and trainers with concrete, WIDS-focused online design and delivery standards, we developed WIDS Online Design Quality Standards.



WIDS Six Quality Design Standard Categories

Six critical curriculum elements form the basis for quality online design and delivery. They are Learning Outcomes, Syllabus, Learning and Teaching Plans, Performance Assessment Tasks, Course Set-up, and Course Maintenance.

Some samples from the comprehensive set of standard categories and criteria include:

Learning Outcomes

  • Learning outcomes are measurable
  • Learning outcomes are transparent
  • Learning outcomes drive content


  • WIDS Syllabus details course competencies
  • WIDS Syllabus details external standards and related outcomes where applicable
  • WIDS Syllabus Guidelines detail interaction requirements for instructors and participants, where applicable

Learning and Teaching Plans

  • Learning and assessment activities, materials, and resources are aligned to the competencies.
  • Learning activities provide opportunities for learner-instructor interaction, including opportunities for regular feedback about learner progress.
  • Assessment activities tell learners what they must do to demonstrate competency.

Performance Assessment Tasks

  • The summative assessment detailed in the Performance Assessment Task can reasonably be accomplished in an online environment OR with the resources available to the learner.
  • Summative assessments detailed in the Performance Assessment Task are aligned with course competencies, program outcomes, core abilities, or other key learning outcomes.
  • WIDS Performance Assessment Task reports are provided to learners in advance of the  assessment to prepare them for and guide them through their performance

Course Set-up

  • LMS activity structure displays or provides a link to each WIDS Learning Plan report 
  • LMS activity tools (discussion forum, wiki tools, integrated media) are set up to follow the WIDS Learning Plan structure
  • LMS activity or assessment structure displays or provides a link to each WIDS Performance Assessment Task report

WIDS Learning Center - Online Learning Backed by Quality Design Standards

WIDS has addressed the growth in demand for online learning development and delivery by creating courses that focus specifically on applying the WIDS performance-based learning framework to online learning development and delivery in eight online courses available through the WIDS Learning Center. Course developers, online designers, educators, and trainers will benefit from the Designing Online Learning with WIDS and WIDS Performance Assessment Online Learning courses. Learners apply the WIDS curriculum design strategies and use the WIDS software to efficiently design, align, and assess for the online environment. to provide instructors, course developers, online designers, and trainers the opportunity to build skills in program and course design using a Performance-Based Learning framework and supporting software. 

And, of course, WIDS has applied the Online Design Quality Standards to all our online course offerings! Download a free copy here.

Additional resources that may be helpful and are available to download are a WIDS Sample Online Learning Plan and a Teaching Plan Sample.

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