In early 2020, McGraw Hill announced its partnership with the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), a higher education community dedicated to advancing quality digital teaching and learning experiences.  The partnership was established in an effort by McGraw Hill to better support instructors as they move to online and hybrid learning.  The OLC partnership allows McGraw Hill to lend a higher level of expertise to institutions to help them ensure online and hybrid courses are designed, facilitated, and evaluated effectively. 

The OLC has developed a set of best practices for online instruction known as the OLC quality scorecard.  McGraw Hill offers preconfigured courseware aligned to the quality scorecard that includes a combination of formative assessments, summative assessments, homework and application activities, and can easily be customized to meet an individual’s needs and course outcomes.  Reach out to your McGraw Hill representative for access to OLC-aligned preconfigured courseware developed to accompany our Majors and Non-Majors Biology titles.  Additionally, OLC certified faculty consultants are available to assist with course design, facilitation, and assessment.  To assist instructors and administrators, on-demand toolkits are available at no costs on the McGraw Hill Support at Every Step webpage. 

Outlined below are recommendations from the OLC for the development of an effective online teaching and learning environment. 

Creating an effective course overview 

  • Include a welcome message and personal introduction 

  • Provide a brief orientation to the course  

  • Post a printable version of the syllabus 

  • Link to student success resources and relevant campus policies 

  • Outline digital requirements and various delivery methods of content available to the student 

  • Clearly define objectives and outcomes of the course 

Course Design and Layout 

  • Ensure the organization of content is logical and consistent 

  • Break large blocks of information into smaller, more manageable sections with plenty of white space 

  • Employ a color scheme with a stark contrast between text and background 

  • Use at least a 12-point sans serif font 

  • Avoid animations or gifs if possible 

  • Comply with all applicable accessibility standards 

Course Content 

  • Employ a variety of engaging activities and resources that facilitate engagement and collaboration, for example: 

  • Discussion boards 

  • Social media interaction 

  • Group projects 

  • Polling 

  • Include opportunities for experiential learning, problem-solving, and higher-order thinking such as: 

  • Simulations 

  • Role-play 

  • Case studies 

General Interaction 

  • Simulate the classroom environment 

  • Provide timely and regular feedback 

  • Allow students to get to know the instructor by having online office hours and sending personal messages 

  • Encourage learners to share resources and/or personal experiences 

Building an Online Community 

  • Clearly define and consistently enforce expectations of discourse 

  • Encourage authentic but respectful discussion of content 

  • Facilitate interactions and lead by example, for instance: 

  • Use ice-breakers strategically  

  • Pose questions often and ask that students do the same 

  • Set up a course bulletin board 

  • Create an opportunity to “meet your classmates” either online or in person 


  • Provide timely feedback 

  • State grading policies, including consequences for late work, at course onset and reiterate often 

  • Grading criteria is clearly articulated  

  • Well-designed, updated gradebook 

  • For assignments with timed response, provide adequate lead time in case there is a need for remediation or accommodations 

Student and Instructor Feedback 

  • Allow for frequent and appropriate assessment of content mastery utilizing a variety of methods including formative and summative assessments, peer reviews, and self-reflection 

  • Students have the ability to evaluate their own performance and assess their own learning 

  • Encourage students to provide feedback regarding the course design, content and experience 

  • Continuously assess your course and instruction