Peer Review of Online Courses

All online GenEd courses to be offered for the fall of 2017 and thereafter must first go through a peer review process. Below, you will find an outline of the process, who is involved, and resources to help guide faculty members through online course development and preparation for the peer review process.


Quick Links

Self-review tool, based on GenEd online review rubric:

Center for the Advancement of Teaching:

Library Guide on Copyright for Educators:


Workshop Announcement

Designing Your Online GenEd Course

Registration Link:

This workshop series will help you get your GenEd online course ready for review by focusing on the standards that address best practices in online course design.  Good course design requires that instructors work backwards, identifying first the goals that they want students to reach, and then aligning the assessments and the activities of the course to those goals.  In an online course, this is especially important because students can more easily miss the connection between what they are studying and the work they are doing for the class. In these three sessions, faculty will consider the alignment of their goals, assessments and activities and will do hands-on work in the GenEd online course template.


Stephanie Laggini Fiore, Senior Director, Center for the Advancement of Teaching (CAT)
Alicia Cunningham-Bryant, CAT Faculty Fellow, Assistant Professor and Assoc. Director for Special Programs, IH


Feb. 7, Feb. 9, Feb. 14

TECH 111

For more information, contact: Stephanie Laggini Fiore, Ph.D., Senior Director, Center for the Advancement of Teaching
tel: 215-204-8761


About the Process

What is being reviewed?

Peer review teams will work with a faculty member to ensure their course meets guidelines described below before it is launched (or relaunched, if it is already being taught). Reviewers will be looking at a faculty member’s course in Blackboard, including the syllabus, the various introductory and navigational elements of the course, descriptions of units or modules, and outlines of activities and assessments. For this reason, the course must be, for the most part, fully developed at the point of review. Reviewers will not review live courses but shells of courses either ready to be used as live courses, or copied without enrollments from a live version.

Who is doing the reviewing?

Each team will consist of two individuals: one member of the GenEd Executive Committee or a GenEd Area Coordinator and one faculty member who has taught online, and who has preferably taught a GenEd online. If the online instructor member of the team has taught a GenEd online, they themselves will have gone through the peer review process. We can always use additional peer reviewers, so if you’re interested in participating, please let us know.

How do I initiate a review?

Contact your chair to ensure they are aware you are doing so. Then, contact Dana Dawson, Associate Director of GenEd, to be paired with a review team and to be granted access to the template (be sure to copy the template before making changes). Contact info: or 215 204 6248.

What if my course doesn’t pass the review?

This is intended to be a formative process. Your course may not meet all of the required elements of the guidelines the first time it is reviewed. Peer review team members will make recommendations for changes and will work with you to help you understand and implement feedback. For this reason, please get started on this process as early as possible. While we must stagger courses under review to ensure our review teams aren’t overwhelmed, you can always begin by moving a course into the template, developing a new course in the template, and conducting a self-assessment.

What support is there for me in doing this?

One member of the peer review team will serve as a point person for the faculty member, and can answer questions about the process. GenEd has developed a course template that must be used by online GenEd courses offered in September 2017 and thereafter. The template includes instructions to guide a faculty member through course development and to help ensure the course will meet the guidelines. We have also developed a self-assessment tool based on the guidelines and linked to from the template.

The Center for the Advancement of Teaching is offering workshops for GenEd online course developers and is always available for consultations.

Departments may also choose to contract the services of the Office of Digital Education.

What do I do if I’m already teaching an online GenEd or will be in the spring?

This doesn’t apply to your spring/summer 2017 online GenEd courses. However, you are welcome and encouraged to start using the template as soon as possible and you may use the template in the spring and summer of 2017 even if your course has not yet fully gone through the GenEd online review process.

How can I access the template?

Contact Dana Dawson at or 215 204 6248. Please be sure to make changes to a copy of the template.

How do I make a copy of the template?

Create a course shell in Blackboard Learn by clicking the Course Tools tab at the top left of the screen, and then clicking Request Shell. Select “Template,” give it a name and press Submit. It normally only takes a few minutes for the request to be processed, and then you will see the shell appear under your courses. Once the shell has been created, go into it and click the Customization drop-down on the left-hand faculty menu, select Properties, and copy the Course ID (it will appear as a long string of letters and numbers – XX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXXXX). Finally, return to the GenEd Online Template, click the Packages and Utilities drop-down menu on the left-hand side, click Course Copy, paste the shell ID into the Destination Course ID box, select the various course materials options, and press Submit.

This is also how you may combine the shell with an existing course. Copy the template into a course shell and then use the same steps above to copy your course into the same shell, ensuring the enrollment option in Packages and Utilities has not been selected. Another approach would be to copy the GenEd template into a course shell and copy individual items into the appropriate areas within the shell rather than copy the entire course.
So every single faculty member’s online GenEd course must be reviewed?

There are two ways a department may proceed. A department may choose to develop one master course that is used by all faculty teaching that course online thereafter. In this case, only the master course would be reviewed, and faculty members using that master course would not have to pass through the review process as long as the course remained roughly 80% the same as the master course. In the online education world, this is called the Enterprise Model.

Each faculty member may also develop their own version of a course (remembering that all GenEd courses must adhere to the course proposal), in which case, each faculty member would pass through the review process prior to launching the course. A department may also decide to develop a master course to be used by faculty members new to online education, faculty hired last-minute, etc. while leaving the option of creating their own versions open to faculty members.

Should a department choose to develop a master course, we strongly encourage all involved to have a conversation about ownership and use of materials employed in the course (recorded lectures, lecture notes, PowerPoints, and so forth).

Is there a rubric or some other set of guidelines for review?

Yes. A working group met over summer of 2016 to develop a rubric for the review of online GenEd courses. We have developed a self-assessment tool that is based on our rubric and that you can use to review your own course. We cannot see the notes you make for yourself; it is meant only to support you in your course development efforts. You can find a pdf of the rubric for the review of online GenEd courses here. The Temple online review rubric for GenEd courses is based on the Quality Matters rubric.

Will my online GenEd course be subject to the same requirements that brick-and-mortar courses are subject to during recertification?

Yes. See the recertification guidelines for information.

Can a department introduce new online courses?

Yes, but every new online GenEd must go through the peer review process outlined here. If your department has not taught the GenEd before, you must apply to the GenEd Executive Committee before introducing it. See these guidelines for more information on that process.

Who developed this process and approved it?

The GenEd Executive Committee empowered a working group to develop this process and the rubric. The working group included representatives of the GenEd Executive Committee, the Center for the Advancement of Teaching, Temple Libraries and the Office of Digital Education, as well as GenEd staff. The GenEd Executive Committee approved the process and rubric in September of 2016.

I have more questions. Who should I ask?

Dana Dawson, Associate Director of GenEd. Email or call 215 204 6248.