Standards & Best Practices for Online Courses

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Mission Statement for Northeastern University Online

Northeastern University Online is committed to offering the highest quality online learning experience for all students. The following section describes our recommended best practices for providing effective design and delivery of all Northeastern University Online courses.

Evidence-Based, Research-Supported Online Teaching and Learning

Our instructional design guidelines are supported by evidence-based research on teaching, learning, and design of online courses. Over the past few years, there has been a strong cohort of researchers addressing the viability and effectiveness of online learning. Researchers such as Richard E. Mayer, Ruth Colvin Clark, Richard Clark, and M. David Merrill have examined data through experimental and environmental comparisons as well as observations, interviews, and questionnaires. They have concluded that properly implemented multimedia instruction creates for better understanding, retention, and transference of learning (Clark & Mayer, 2011).

Online education makes use of multimedia opportunities for learning. Today, multimedia has allowed us to capitalize on the nature of the human cognitive system. Multimedia options including graphics, animations, illustrations, and video have opened the door for accessible visual modes of instruction. Multimedia that presents material in words and pictures takes full advantage of the human capacity for processing information. It allows both the verbal and visual channels to work cooperatively throughout the instruction (Mayer, 2009).

Additionally, research on online education indicates that courses designed based on proven practices create online learning communities that allow for a role shift where students can learn from each other and not only from interaction with the instructor (Palloff & Pratt, 2011). Online education requires a pedagogical shift for the instructor from the source of knowledge to more of a facilitator, or mentor (Ally, 2009; Fish & Gill, 2009; Salmon, 2005).

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