Course Management System (CMS) Standards

Standard 1. Accessibility & Usability

Standard 1 Description:

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) identifies the required steps higher education institutions and individual faculty member must take in order to meet individual student’s needs. This section provides detailed information on the accommodations instructors are legally required to make, as well as provides guidance and direction for proper course setup for online and face-to-face classes.

Accessibility & Usability | Sections 1.1 - 1.5
    1.1 Courses should acknowledge the importance of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements and make a concerted effort to incorporate ADA online standards.
  • Rationale: Students must be directed to ADA services on campus via a statement in their course. For additional information on ADA services on campus, visit the following:
  • Required statement in all LCC syllabi: “Students with disabilities who believe that they may need accommodations in this class are encouraged to contact the Center for Student Access in the Gannon Building Star Zone ( or by calling 517–483-1924 as soon as possible to better ensure that such accommodations are implemented in a timely fashion.”
    1.2 CMS course pages, media, and documents must be accessible to all users.
  • All LCC courses and course materials must be accessible. Instructor will need to review all course pages, documents, multimedia, links, and publisher resources in order to assure accessibility.
    1.3 LCC will provide resources to facilitate the creation and maintaining of courses that meet ADA Requirements.
  • Rationale: Both a CMS Accessibility Checklist and CMS Accessibility Revision Plan are available for use, by faculty and staff, to self-assess and identify possible areas that may require revision to meet ADA requirements. Refer to the CMS Accessibility Checklist and CMS Accessibility Revision Plan at:
    1.4 LCC will provide resources to facilitate alternative forms of content as needed.
  • Rationale: Alternate forms of content must be provided. For example, provide text representations of images, provide closed-captioning and/or transcripts for video,etc.
  • Refer to the Technology Tools document at:
    1.5 LCC will provide resources to facilitate effective course design in the creation and maintaining of courses.
  • Rationale: Both a CMS Course Checklist and CMS Course Review Scorecard are available for use, by faculty and staff, to self-assess and identify possible areas for improvement in the course.
  • Refer to the CMS Course Checklist and CMS Course Review Scorecard at:

Standard 2. Communication

Standard 2 Description:

Communication with students is a critical component in your D2L course. As the instructor, it is important to be visible and accessible. Students need to “see” that you are present in the course. This section provides detailed information on the various communication options available within D2L.

Communication | Sections 2.1 - 2.11
    2.1 Welcome message in the Announcement area must be posted by 8:00 am on the first day of class and remain for at least two weeks (end of 50 percent drop period).
  • Recommendation: A welcome message in the Announcement area for the first day of class may include an introduction, contact information, due dates, syllabus location, test proctoring, etc.
    2.2 Contact information for the Instructor should be easy to find and must clearly indicate Instructor availability by phone, email, and in person (if applicable).
  • Recommendation: Contact information that is easy to find can be located in the welcome messages, in the Course Information Area of Content, or in a custom widget and may include phone, email, office hours, office location, etc.
  • Example: Susan Smith
    Phone: 517-483-1839
    Office Hours: M-F 8-10am
    Office Location:TLC 127
    2.3 An Instructor should check and respond to their email (both LCC email and CMS course mail) regularly at least 3-4 times a week. An Instructor should consider responding more often during the first and last weeks of the semester and around critical deadlines.
  • Rationale: LCC email and CMS course mail are two separate systems and both require separate actions on the part of the Instructor.
  • Messages forwarded out of D2L cannot be responded to from an external email such as LCC Email. All D2L course messages must be responded to from within D2L.
    2.4 Expected response time for email, discussion board posts, assignments, etc. must be clearly communicated to students including response time on weekends.
  • Example: “I check my email at least three times per day and respond to discussion posts at least once per day.”
  • Example: “I will be checking my email on weekends once a day around 5 p.m.”
    2.5 Announcements and CMS course mail should include course code.
  • Recommendation: Instructors should include the course code in either their Announcement title or in the CMS course mail subject line.
    2.6 An Instructor’s methods of collecting and returning student work should be clearly communicated.
  • Example: “Assignments will be collected via the Assignments tool in the CMS by the due dates listed in the syllabus and/or course.”
  • Example: “Submitted work will be graded within approximately X days. I will communicate with the class when assignment grades are posted.”
    2.7 Announcements are generally meant for short welcome/reminder type messages.
  • Recommendation: Longer communications should be sent via CMS course mail.
    2.9 Instructors should communicate to students that once the course begins, students having trouble with D2L should contact the LCC Help Desk.
  • Recommendation: Provide the following contact Information: Contact the LCC Help Desk: Phone: (517) 483-5221 or
    2.10 Instructors should communicate information regarding LCC’s Enrollment Verification Policy.
  • Note: The LCC Enrollment Verification Policy is available in the public work spaces at: LCC- All- Public> AA-Public >AA-CC > Archive >Policies > Policies-Final-Approved > Enrollment-Verification
    2.11 Instructors should supply timely, relevant feedback for all assignments that enhance student learning and remediation.
  • Rationale: Instructors should supply feedback on all assignments within a reasonable time period in order to enhance student engagement, comprehension, and success on assignments and learning materials.

Standard 3. Intellectual Property Policy

Standard 3 Description:

Instructors should regularly review LCC’s Intellectual Property Policy to ensure that they are in compliance. This section provides you with quick and easy access to LCC’s Intellectual Property Policy.

Intellectual Property Policy | Sections 3.1

Standard 4. Electronic File Formats

Standard 4 Description:

Instructors should carefully plan how they will create and accept electronic files within their courses to ensure that they are consistent, current, and allow for greater usability between different types of devices. This section provides detailed information on electronic file format best practices.

Electronic File Formats | Sections 4.1 - 4.4
    4.1 Required file formats for projects must be listed in the course syllabus.
  • Rationale: Students should be made aware of the expectations and specifications for assignments that they submit in a course.
    4.2 Document file formats should be consistent, current, and widely used formats such as Microsoft Office formats (.docx, .pptx, .xlsx) or PDF that are accessible to users and available across all college resources.
  • Rationale: Using current, widely used file types allows for the greater usability of files between devices and promotes commonality between courses.
    4.3 Instructors should look to use mobile friendly file formats whenever possible for the delivery of course content and information including:
  • Video .mp4
    Audio .mp3
    Images .jpg or .png
    Documents .docx, .pptx, .pdf
  • Rationale: Mobile friendly file formats promote greater usability between devices and increased opportunities for engaging in course activities and content.
    4.4 Files should be saved in a manner that results in file sizes that are as small as possible by:
  • Compressing images
  • Optimizing documents
  • Keeping audio bit rates at 96kbs or less
  • Using streaming media servers or services as opposed to requiring the downloading of video files
  • Reducing the length of audio and video files
  • Rationale: Smaller file sizes make it easier to download and/or interact with files while conserving bandwidth and file storage capabilities.

Standard 5. Learning Object Repository (LOR)

Standard 5 Description:

The Learning Object Repository (LOR) was designed to be a means of sharing course content between instructors in a department. Instructors can easily import and export files including quizzes, PowerPoint presentations, etc. into and out of the LOR. This section provides detailed information on using the LOR in your D2L course.

Learning Object Repository (LOR) | Sections 5.1 - 5.3
    5.1 Instructors have the option to publish content to the department LOR, set as either public or private, that is associated with a course.
  • Note: Each academic department has an LOR dedicated to storing and sharing objects published by their Instructors.
    5.2 Instructors may view and link to publicly available files located in the LOR associated with their course.
  • Rationale: The LOR was designed to be a means of sharing course content between Instructors in a department. If an Instructor does not wish to make an object available to the public it should be published as private.
    5.3 Instructors may publish items privately to the LOR that are for their use only and excluded from other users’ searches.
  • Note: Instructors will need to select the visibility checkbox either at the time of publishing an object or while editing an object in the LOR in order to make an object private.

Standard 6. Master Course(s)

Standard 6. Description:

A Master Course is used as a template for preparing a new course, a course used for multiple sections, and/or a course for a new semester. Instructors can have one Master Course per delivery method (e.g. online, face-to-face, hybrid, 8 week, 12 week, and 16 week). In addition, department Master Courses can be requested to provide courses that are aligned with department course objectives to instructors who need a base course to teach from, while developing their own course. This section provides detailed information on Master Course policies.

Master Course(s) | Sections 6.1 - 6.6
    6.1 Instructors have the option to use a Master Course(s) to prepare course sections.
  • Note: A Master Course(s) is to be used as a template for preparing: a new course, a course used for multiple sections, and/or a course for a new semester.
    6.2 A Master Course(s) should not be used or accessed by students.
  • Note: Students should only have access to current semester courses for which they are enrolled via the Student Information System.
    6.4 Instructors can have one Master Course per delivery method (e.g. online, face-to-face, hybrid, 8 week, 12 week, 16 week).
  • Note: An Instructor who teaches one course may have multiple Master Course(s) to include an Online version, an 8 week Online version, and a Face-to-Face version of the same course.
    6.5 A Department has the option to create and maintain a Master Course(s) that will be available to all Instructors in a department.
  • Note: Department Master Course(s) can be used to provide courses that are aligned with department course objectives to Instructors who need a base course to teach from and develop their own course.
    6.6 Instructors should update their Master Course(s) periodically to reflect any revisions made to a course during the semester of teaching.
  • Rationale: A Master Course(s) should be updated periodically in order to ensure that Instructors always have the most current information and learning objects in their courses. The eLearning Department can assist with the removal of content and resetting a master course shell upon request.

Standard 7. Mentor & Review

Standard 7. Description:

Course mentoring is available for all LCC faculty members using D2L. The eLearning Instructional Designers are available to mentor and assist faculty with all of their D2L needs, as well as curriculum development, rubric development, and integrating educational technology tools into the classroom. This section provides detailed information on mentoring and review best practices.

Mentor & Review | Sections 7.1 - 7.5
    7.1 An Instructor who teaches online for the first time should be assigned to work with an experienced online Instructor as a mentor.
  • Rationale: An experienced online Instructor should provide guidance and tips for teaching successfully using an online learning environment.
    7.2 Instructors are encouraged to take an online course as a student; approved by supervisor.
  • Rationale: Taking an online course will give an Instructor a student perspective as well as allow them to observe teaching techniques and course design methods of other online Instructors.
    7.3 The review of online courses should be an integral part of program review. Courses may also be reviewed upon Instructor or department chair request.
  • Rationale: Courses should be periodically reviewed to ensure accuracy of information, ease of use by students, and alignment to department and college standards.
    7.5 Meet with an Instructional Designer from the eLearning Department.
  • Note: An Instructional Designer from the eLearning Department is available to assist Instructors in learning and utilizing functions of the Course Management System as well as structuring their course to help ensure student success.

Standard 8. Navigation

Standard 8. Description:

Ease of navigation should be a top priority during the initial course setup phase. Course setup and organization is an essential part of the online learning environment. Course navigation can have a major impact on student learning. Course documents/materials, including course readings, assessments, and other course media, should be clearly identified and easy to locate. This section provides detailed information on course navigation and course setup best practices.

Navigation | Sections 8.1 - 8.8
    8.1 Clear directions on beginning the course and locating the course syllabus should be provided in the initial Announcement welcome message placed in the course.
  • Recommendation: Directions may be placed in the welcome message in the Announcement area as well as before the first assignment in the Content area.
    8.2 Section Syllabus must be placed within the Concourse Syllabus System to increase consistency and access to syllabi for students.
  • Note: Using Concourse provides access to section syllabi from both the course management system and MyLCC.
    8.3 Instructors should provide an assignment to verify that students have located and read the initial instructions/task for the course and the course syllabus.
  • Recommendation: Instructors should utilize an assignment for students such as a quiz, completing a checklist, or a simple communication to the Instructor in order to verify that all students have accessed the course syllabus and initial course instructions/tasks.
    8.4 Course site material and activities should be organized, easy to follow and self-explanatory.
  • Recommendation: Methods for organizing course material include by week, unit or chapter modules.
    8.5 Learning materials and course resources should be available within a minimal number of clicks and not require users to access an extraneous number of sub-modules.
  • Rationale: Reducing the layers of sub-modules that a student has to go through makes it easier for them to locate and utilize course materials. Materials should not be placed more than three sub-modules deep within a course.
    8.6 Web page links, content, documents, and activities must function correctly and the Instructor must identify whether they are required or optional.
  • Recommendation: It is suggested that Instructors test links in their course on a regular basis to verify they work.
    8.7 All titles for course files, pages, documents, and links should be explicitly and consistently labeled as to what they are referencing.
  • Recommendation: Links to items should not simply state “click here.” They should let the student know what they will be accessing. For example, instead of naming a file “rubric” include the associated projects title in the rubric name.
    8.8 Instructors should use the standard course navigation bar in courses to create consistency for students across courses.
  • Rationale: Using a common navigation bar makes it easier for students to navigate n all courses at the college as well as promotes increased usability within the course management system.

Standard 9. Technology

Standard 9. Description

Technology is an integral part of our everyday lives, both inside and outside of the classroom. Effectively incorporating technology into your D2L course can enhance the learning experience by increasing student engagement and collaboration. This section provides information on the integration of technology into D2L, including the Course Quota Policy, determining appropriate technologies, and strategic implementation.

Technology | Sections 9.1 - 9.3
    9.2 LCC will provide resources to keep course size under 500MB.
  • Note: An Instructional Designer from the eLearning Department is available to assist Instructors in using the LOR to keep course size under 500MB.
    9.3 Instructors must provide course-specific hardware/software requirements in their course/syllabus. Additional software must be provided or easily downloadable.
  • Recommendation: Instructors should take steps to make any course specific hardware/software application available to students through either a file download or a link a location where the student can download the file.

Standard 10. User Authentication

Standard 10. Description:

Verifying student users is an important part of the online learning environment. Luckily, there are a number of avenues that can be used to identify students. In addition, instructors need to familiarize themselves with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, otherwise known as FERPA, and LCC’s Acceptable Use Policies which aims to protect student data and information. This section provides information on verifying students, FERPA and LCC’s Acceptable Use Policy.

User Authentication | Sections 10.1 - 10.2
    10.1 Whenever possible, Instructors should verify the identity of their students.
  • Recommendation: You can verify the identity of students via a face-to-face meeting, video conference, proctored exam, etc.
    10.2 Instructors will perform due diligence to be compliant with FERPA and college Acceptable Use Policies with regards to student data and identities.
  • Note: Instructors will follow college guidelines and regulations at all times in regards to securing student data and identities in courses and when transmitting data through approved tools.

Standard 11. Electronic Gradebook

Standard 11. Description

D2L is provided to all faculty to use for the purpose of recording grades electronically. All faculty must ensure that grades are entered in a timely manner in order to keep students informed of current grade status. This section provides information on LCC’s Electronic Gradebook Policy and expectations for entering grades.

Electronic Gradebook | Sections 11.1 - 11.2
    11.2 Instructors should ensure that electronic gradebooks are up-to-date to reflect an accurate, current grade for all students.
  • Rationale: Instructors should update scores for grade items in their electronic gradebooks, at a minimum, weekly in order to enhance student engagement and provide timely feedback on assignments.
  • Rationale: Keeping electronic gradebooks up-to-date provides students with current grade status, as well as vital data necessary for college operations.