Best Practices

Here are resources and reminders to help as you prepare your course materials. 

OEI Course Design Rubric

The OEI developed the Course Design Rubric for online courses as a self-evaluation tool for faculty and course designers. The use of the rubric has been integrated into COM's DE policies and Stategic Plan. We encourage you to download the rubric and use it as a guide to creating and updating your online and hybrid courses: OEI Course Design Rubric


ADA Best Practices Reminders: Hints and Tips

Is your syllabus ADA compliant? Do you have Word documents that you use routinely in your online classroom? Please visit our Online Instructor Resources to learn more about document and Canvas course accessiblity. For additional accessiblity and universal design best practices, please also visit our accessiblity guidelines.

If you have questions about your online course content and ADA compliance, feel free to contact COM's Instructional Technologist, Stacey Lince at or Elle Dimopoulos, Assistive Technology Specialist at With your permission, Stacey and Elle will evaluate your course documents and courses to make sure they are user-friendly for students who may require special accommodations. 

FERPA Compliance in Combined LMS Courses 

Faculty may wish to combine multiple learning management system (LMS) course sections to save time distributing the same course content to students. In Canvas, this is referred to as cross-listing. However, combining course sections presents a challenge for compliance with FERPA and related laws, regulations, and policies. For more information on COMs student privacy policies, see BP 5040

According to FERPA, students can only have access to other students’ information in a course in which they are enrolled or those that are cross-listed according to COM's class schedule. In terms of online course content, this also means students cannot interact with students from another course in discussions or group activities and cannot have access to each other's online profiles which may have identifiable information. 

To comply with FERPA when distributing course content in combined courses, only Canvas administrators can cross-list courses. To request that your sections be merged faculty must complete the Combined Course Request Form.

Once the courses are cross-listed in Canvas, the faculty member must take the following actions to ensure FERPA compliance:

1. The course syllabus should mention that students from multiple sections will be in one Canvas course shell. You may also consider adding a Canvas Announcement in your class so students are aware that two sections have been merged.

Here is a sample statement:

This course may be taught in a format that combines multiple sections into one online course environment, or that allows students in one section to view or comment on the work of students in another section of the same course being taught by the same instructor. If you have any concerns about this, please contact your instructor for more details.

You might also consider adding a Canvas Announcement in your class so students are aware that two sections have been merged.

2. Canvas course navigational links that allow for student interaction must be hidden from student view including People, Chat, Collaboration & Conferences links.

3. Course settings should be adjusted to not allow students to create their own groups or discussion topics, and comments on Announcements should be disabled.

4. When sending messages using the Canvas Inbox –check the box that says “send an individual message to each recipient” to prevent students from sending a “reply all” response or seeing to whom the message was sent.

5. AssignmentsDiscussions, Peer Reviews, and other group work should be facilitated and assigned by section. Here are links to the Canvas Guides on how to assign graded items to sections: