Distance Education (DE) Guidelines Repository

Leeward’s Educational Media Center (EMC) is pleased to provide a consolidated DE Guidelines Repository to assist faculty with online course support and best practices. Whether you’re just getting started with distance education or are revising your fully online course to guideline align, we’ve got you covered!

Please feel free to contact the EMC with questions or for help: (808) 455-0222.

About the DE Guidelines

Leeward Community College has fashioned a custom distance education metric to help guide quality online design for our campus.
The Leeward CC Distance Education (DE) Guidelines were developed in 2019 by the Educational Media Center to promote best practices in online course design and facilitation.

About the DE Guidelines

Leeward Community College has fashioned a custom distance education metric to help guide quality online design for our campus.
The Leeward CC Distance Education (DE) Guidelines were developed in 2019 by the Educational Media Center to promote best practices in online course design and facilitation.

The Guidelines address six key areas of effective distance learning practice and are based on several state and nationally recognized rubrics.New to online learning? Just getting started with the DE Guidelines? The Hone Your Honu overview presentation simplifies and synthesizes the six core guidelines, explaining the overall importance of each section working together to form a holistic approach to distance education.

Applying the DE Guidelines

Once you’re familiar with distance education best practice, the next step is to apply them to your own course(s). We’ve created a wide range of resources to help you do this.


When you’re comfortable with the DE Guidelines, the Self-Assessment Process information sheet can help you learn more about the importance of taking the time to reflect on your online course(s). We’ve also compiled a DE Guidelines Self-Assessment FAQ sheet to provide faculty with commonly asked questions about the independent review process.

When you’re ready to review, the DE Guidelines Self-Assessment tool will help you inventory your DE Guidelines achievements and areas for growth.

Peer Evaluation

Leeward DE pros are available to work with you to strengthen your online courses. The DE Peer Evaluation group is comprised of Leeward faculty members from multiple departments across the college. The peer reviewers have demonstrated advanced competency in effective distance education courses and have completed additional DE Guidelines training.

“Ready for Delivery” (RFD)

Ready for Delivery is a special designation for fully online courses that align to the DE Guidelines. Similar to a “badge” of distinction, RFD indicates to prospective students, Leeward administrators, and/or outside agencies that a Leeward distance education online course has been reviewed according to the DE Guidelines and conferred an exemplary online course status accordingly.

DE Guideline 1: Course Overview and Information

Guideline #1
#1 How-To Do Suggestions Leeward Sample Additional Resources

Course overview and clear instructions on how to get started

  • ☐ Send a welcome email or Laulima Announcement to students before or on the first day of instruction. A welcome message provides context for what students will be learning, setting a tone for success from the start of the course.
  • ☐ Encourage students to check Laulima Announcements and their UH email account daily.
  • ☐ Create a “Start Here” page in Laulima to guide how to get started in the course.
  • ☐ Record a short screencast video tour/orientation of the course, showing learners how to navigate the course, the structure of the learning modules, and how to locate and access materials and assignments.
  • ☐ Host a live online course orientation via web conferencing with screen sharing.
1.1 How to get started with the course AG 100, McCafferty

Welcome Letters

Online Orientations


Instructor self-introduction

  • Record a self-introduction video
  • Launch the class introduction forum with a post
  • Email students a little bit about you before the term starts
  • Provide an infographic that shares your interests
  • Link students to a faculty website or blog
1.2 Instructor introductionENG 100, Chang

Instructor, division, and program contact information

  • Include required syllabus information at the top so it’s easy to locate
1.3 Required syllabus information EMC

Course modality (asynchronous, synchronous, or hybrid) is indicated and explained

  • State the dates/times of synchronous sessions if the course is DE Synchronous
  • Make attendance requirements (mandatory, optional drop-in) clear

1.4 Course modality stated EMC

1.4 Course modality stated MATH 115, Francis


Printable syllabus and course schedule

  • Post syllabus file (.pdf) in course LMS to enable online download and printing
  • Attach syllabus file (.pdf) to pre-term welcome email to students
  • Add syllabus to faculty web page for additional access
  • Provide a printable schedule noting course units, themes, modules and topics, as well as all graded course activities, assessments and their due dates
1.5 Printable syllabus BIOL 101, Velasquez

Mandatory Leeward CC syllabi information and campus policies included

1.6 Mandatory Leeward CC syllabus informationEMC

Course policies are explained

  • Share communication options and preferences
  • State course grading policy
  • Late work submission
  • Extra credit
  • Describe regular substantive interaction (RSI)
  • Indicate use of artificial intelligence (AI)
1.7 Course policies are explained ART 113D, Molyneux




Campus resources (e.g., technical help, orientation, tutoring) provided

1.8 Campus resources provided ART 113D, Molyneux

1.8 Campus resources provided ENG 100, Chang


Communication methods and expectations are explained

  • Account for communication preferences:
  • How will your students communicate with you?
  • What is your preferred way for students to contact you?
  • What is your response time?
  • Will you respond during evenings, weekends, holidays?
  • How will students communicate with each other?
  • State netiquette expectations

1.9 Communication methods explained AG 100, McCafferty

1.9 Communication methods explained COM 145, Yokotake

1.9 Communication methods explained ENG 100, Chang


Course outcomes and learning objectives are transparent to students

  • Design Outcomes/Objectives that are:
  • active (Bloom’s taxonomy verbs)
  • measureable
  • indicate some level of mastery
  • Student-centered in tone and language
  • Align all course content, learning activities, interactions and assessments to objectives/outcomes.
  • Post course and/or module Outcomes/Objectives in easily locatable places for students.
  • Start new units and lessons with Outcomes/Objectives listed
  • Conclude units and lessons with Outcomes/Objectives

1.10 Outcomes are transparent to students BIOL 172, MacDonald

1.10 Outcomes and LOs are transparent to studentsENG 200, Ching

Leeward CC Kuali Curriculum


Students make self-introductions

  • Record a self-introduction video
  • Post to discussion forum
  • Share background and interests to class slide deck collage
  • Generate an infographic that visual introduces student through imagery
  • Use artificial intelligence (AI) to generate a biography or portrait of student
1.11 Student introductions ENG 100, Chang

DE Guideline 2: Course Technology and Tools

Guideline #2
#2 How-To Do Suggestions Leeward Sample Additional Resources

Tech and tools support learning objectives/outcomes

  • Tech implementation:
  • Engage students with the course materials
  • Facilitate student-to-student and student-to-instructor interaction
  • Support diverse ways of learning
  • Tech logistics:
  • Vary tech and tools
  • Keep types and versions current

2.1 Tech and tools support LOs BOT 130, Elliott

2.1 Tech and tools support LOs BOT 130, Elliott v2


Tech skills and minimum technology requirements stated

  • Introduce hardware, software, or technology applications
  • List resources that support a full range of learner mastery
  • Communicate to students early on
  • Reinforce throughout the term
2.2 Tech tools communicated BOT 130, Elliott

Tech skill orientations/tutorials provided for required learning activities  

  • Provide links to existing tutorials
  • Customize tutorials for instructor/course use

2.3 Tech orientations provided BOT 130, Elliott

2.3 Tech skills orientation and tutorials provided ENG 100, Chang


Course tools’ privacy policies stated

  • Supply links to privacy policies for all external websites and services used in the course that require students to create a username and password.

2.4 Requesting UH approval of tools BOT 130, Elliott

2.4 Tools and student data BOT 130, Elliott

DE Guideline 3: Design and Layout

Guideline #3
#3 How-To Do Suggestions Leeward Sample Additional Resources

Course is well-paced, organized, and easy to navigate

  • Create a course map to help you plan, organize, and pace the course.
  • Unclutter course layout’ present content in a logical, consistent, and/or sequential way
  • A structure for each module (i.e., week, unit, lesson, or topic) provides organization and consistency. For instance, you may consider including a: short introduction to the module, list of the module-level learning objectives, detailed descriptions of the learning materials to review, activities and assignments/assessments to complete, and synchronous (live) session dates and times, if applicable. Include due dates for every activity and assignment/assessment in each module. Recommended: Request to use a UH Online Laulima course template.
  • Divide Information into manageable sections or “chunks.”

3.1 Weekly rotating home page in course navigation AG 100, McCafferty

3.1 Course organization and navigation BIOL 101, Velasquez

3.1 Course organization and navigation BOT 130, Elliott


Instructions are clearly and unambiguously written

  • Streamline instructions for clarity and to reduce student need to repeatedly ask for clarification.
  • Instruction placement:
  • Locate in many different course areas (orientations, introductions, announcements, guidelines, Q&A, and rubrics)
  • Add instructions to every activity and/or assessment (versus just first time assigned)

3.2 Clear instructions BIOL 101, Velasquez

3.2 Clear instructions ED 285, Cawdery


Text is easily readable

  • Recommended: sans-serif, 12 pt or larger font used
  • Ensure text can be zoomed
  • Design enough color contrast between text and background
  • Utilize white space for better readability in reducing the amount of text seen at once
  • “Chunk” longer passages into shorter paragraphs
3.3 Text readability BIOL 101, Velasquez

If tables are used, simple tables are used to display information

  • Ensure all tables have a title and description.
  • Assign table headers for rows and columns
  • Enable header rows to break across the page so they appear at the top of the next page as well, if applicable
  • Avoid merged cells or complex tables
3.4 Simple tables used EMC

Course materials are accessible to meet the needs of diverse learners

  • Videos: Caption and/or additionally provide text transcripts
  • Audio: Provide text transcripts
  • Text: Format all text with titles, headings, and styles for accessible reading by a screen reader
  • Images: Supply alt tags, captions, and transcripts
  • Color use: Convey meaning through emphasis (bold or italics) or patterns in tandem with color
  • Animation: Avoid flashing or blinking text
  • Weblinks: Use descriptive hyperlinks instead of “click here” or providing URL link (www.abcd.com)
  • Complex graphics: charts, graphs, infographics, maps, art, etc. are all thoroughly described so non-sighted students gain the same content understanding as sighted students

“Got Your Six” accessibility handout EMC

3.5 Accessibility BIOL 101, Velasquez

Alt Text and Images

Descriptive Links

Use of Color

Misc. Resources on Accessibility

DE Guideline 4: Content and Activities

Guideline #4
#4 How-To Do Suggestions Leeward Sample Additional Resources

Instructional materials contribute to the achievement of the learning objectives/outcomes

  • Utilize Open Educational Resources (OER), publisher- and/or instructor-created materials, etc.
  • Vary materials to support diverse ways of learning
  • Keep materials current and timely

4.1 Instructional materials BIOL 172, MacDonald

4.1 Instructional materials OER BOT 130, Elliott

4.1 Range of instructional materials BOT 130, Elliott v2



Learning activities are aligned with/promote the achievement of the learning objectives/outcomes.

  • Engage the learner with course content to
  • provide reinforcement and mastery.
  • develop higher-order thinking and problem-solving skills.
  • Emulate real-world applications
  • i.e., authentic learning, problem-based learning, case studies, etc.

4.2 Activities reinforce mastery of learning BIOL 101, Velasquez

4.2 Real world application BOT 130, Elliott

4.2 Real world application BUSN 193V, Kawano

4.2 Real world application PHYL 141, Beale


A variety of activities and resources facilitate communication, collaboration, learning, and engagement.

  • Engross students through activities versus the simple presentation of content.
  • Make activities relevant to the course content

4.3 Range of resources BIOL 101, Velasquez

4.3 Variety of activities BIOL 172, MacDonald

4.3 Variety of activities BOT 130, Elliott

4.3 Variety of activities BOT 130, Elliott p2


Proper citations, copyright, permissions (including fair use), and licensing information (including Creative Commons) provided

  • Ask a librarian for guidance on how to properly cite and use licensed materials.

LEE Permissions Guide

DE Guideline 5: Interaction

Guideline #5
#5 How-To Do Suggestions Leeward Sample Additional Resources

All instructor interaction and feedback are explained

  • Provide students with easily found information on instructor response times

5.1 Instructor interaction AG 100, McCafferty

5.1 Instructor Interaction and feedback explained ART 113D, Molyneux


All student interaction expectations are explained

  • Explain instructor expectations and requirements of student interaction
  • e.g. frequency, length, response time, content, etc.
  • Include expectations on all course activities
  • e.g. discussion postings, assignments, peer evaluations, self-assessments, group projects, etc.
  • Post expectations in each activity throughout entire course (versus just first activity in sequence)

5.2 Student interaction expectations explained AG 100, McCafferty

5.2 Student interaction expectations explained ENG 200, Ching

5.2 Student interaction expectations explained ENG 200, Ching v2

5.2 Student interaction explained SOC 250, Bopp

5.2 Student interaction expectations explained SOC 250H, Bopp v2


Opportunities for regular and substantive interaction (RSI) between the instructor and student.

  • Align Leeward regular effective contact with ACCJC and federal definitions of RSI.
  • Engage students in teaching, learning, and assessment, consistent with the content under discussion, on a predictable, regular, and proactive basis.
  • Include at least two of the following RSI approaches:
  • Provide direct instruction;
  • Assess or provide feedback on a student’s coursework;
  • Provide information or respond to questions about the content of a course or competency;
  • Facilitate a group discussion regarding the content of a course or competency

What is RSI? BUSN 193V Kawano

5.3 Opportunities for RSI ART 113D, Molyneux

5.3 Instructor-to-student RSI ENG 200, Ching

5.3 Opportunities for RSI SOC 250, Bopp


Course activities and/or opportunities build community.

  • Foster social presence (i.e., a sense of belonging and feeling comfortable to participate/interact and respect opposing views)
  • Promote student engagement
  • Open avenues for communication.
  • For example:
  • ice breaker/ self-introduction discussion forum where instructor and students participate and engage with each other
  • students share their insights and opinions about an article or course topic
  • study groups, team/group projects
  • “cyber cafe” discussion forum or virtual meeting/chat space where students and the instructor can meet informally to chat about course-related (or other) topics

5.4 Building student community AG 100, McCafferty

5.4 Building student community ART 113D, Molyneux

5.4  Building student community BIOL 172, MacDonald

5.4 Course activities build community ENG 100, Chang


Student-to-student interaction.

  • Moderate and evaluate the quality and quantity of interaction between each other.
  • Support social, teaching, and cognitive presence through group and peer-review assignments in the online space.
  • Collaborate to enable more advanced students to help other students
  • maximize their abilities
  • help construct new knowledge together

5.5 Student-to-student interaction AG 100, McCafferty

5.5 Student-to-student interaction AG 100 McCafferty v2

5.5 Student-to-student interaction ART 113D, Molyneux

5.5 Student-to-student interaction ENG 200, Ching


Learning activities promote interaction and support active learning

  • Engage by “doing” something
  • discover, process, or apply concepts and information
  • guide students to increasing levels of responsibility for their own learning.

5.6 Activities support active learning ED 290, Judd

5.6 Activities support active learning ENGL 100, Wood

5.6 Assessment promotes interaction and active learning HDFS 230, Biddle

5.6 Activities support active learning SOC 250, Bopp

DE Guideline 6: Assessment and Feedback

Guideline #6
#6 How-To Do Suggestions Leeward Sample Additional Resources

Course assessments measure the achievement of the learning objectives/outcomes.

  • Measure learner progress and mastery of course and module objectives.
6.1 Course and module objectives BIOL 172, MacDonald

Course assessments are sequenced, varied, and appropriate.

  • Sequence and/or scaffold assessments
  • Provide at regular intervals throughout the term
  • Design formative assessments that lead to summative assessments.
  • Vary assessments to provide multiple ways for students to demonstrate progress and mastery.
  • Make assessments appropriate for the course level
  • Ask students to check their skill mastery levels, or reflect on their own work; include opportunities for self-assessment:
  • Enable learner self-efficacy
  • Foster learners’ abilities to construct meaning
  • Promote metacognition
  • Examine reasoning and decision-making process

6.2 Assessment is sequenced AG 100, McCafferty

6.2 Formative and substantive assessment BIOL 172, MacDonald

6.2 Assessment at regular intervals ENG 200, Ching

6.2 Assessment is sequenced ENG 200, Ching v2

6.2 Assessment is varied HDFS 230, Biddle

6.2 Students reflect on their work ENG 100, Chang

6.2 Self assessment opportunities ENG 200, Ching v3

6.2 Self assessment opportunities HDFS 230, Biddle


Course has clear assessment criteria for assignments.

  • Formulate rubrics as a best practice for communicating criteria and achievement levels for assignments in online courses:
  • Make learning targets clear
  • Distinguish achievement levels from one another
  • Give students self- and peer-assessment guidelines
  • Guide the design and delivery of instruction by starting with the end goal
  • Provide non-credit, no-point rubrics for formative assessment feedback
  • Normalize the assessment process
  • Allow students iterative growth

6.3 Clear assessment criteria BIOL 172, MacDonald

6.3 Clear assessment criteria ENG 200, Ching

6.3  Clear assessment criteria HDFS 230, Biddle


Course has an online gradebook for students.

  • Provide easy access to an up-to-date gradebook from the start of the term
  • Review and analyze performance
  • Create reports on student progress and course completion
  • “Nudge” students via data indicators

6.4 Gradebook used and updated BIOL 172, MacDonald

6.4 Gradebook used and updated HDFS 230, Biddle


Course has at least one opportunity for descriptive feedback from students on all aspects of the course.

  • Supply access to formal course evaluation via Course Evaluation System (CES)
  • Give anonymous surveys or reflection opportunities to students during term

6.5 Opportunities for student descriptive feedback BIOL 172, Macdonald

6.5 Opportunities for student descriptive feedback HDFS 230, Biddle

Additional Resources

Online Course Metrics

Online Course Best Practice

Online Course Timelines / Pacing During the Term