Developing an online or blended course requires us to reconsider our current instructional practices and often to learn about new delivery methods and technologies. In order for Instructional Designers to assist faculty adequately through this process, we suggest you contact the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning at least one semester prior to the delivery of any redesigned course. The steps outlined here provide a high-level overview of the course development process.
What are the steps involved in creating an online or blended course?
The course development process involves periodically meeting with instructional designers and the media production team and participating in synchronous and asynchronous sessions that are designed around using new technology and teaching online. The Digital Professor Academy is an instructional development program that can take you through this process from course design to final review.
- Start early. Course redesign is often done working with other faculty in your department, instructional designers and media production staff in the FCTL. Allow yourself at least one full semester and set deadlines for yourself for the completion of each task. This is particularly important when developing components in conjunction with production staff.
- Meet with an instructional designer. Schedule a meeting with Instructional Design in the FCTL to plan the design and development process. Bring a copy of the course syllabus to the first meeting with your instructional designer.
- Create a content outline. Begin thinking about how content in your current course can be ‘chunked’ or organized into learning modules. Example Content Outline (PDF document).
- Write learning objectives. Writing learning objectives (LOs) is probably the most important step during the planning phase. The LO’s will guide the development and selection of learning activities and provide specifications for assessments. “Writing Student Learning Objectives” (PDF document) for more information.
- Review Course Development Guidelines and Rubric. The Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning has developed Course Development Guidelines and a peer review process to provide faculty with recommendations on what a high quality course looks like and constructive feedback during a peer review process. Online learning offers great potential for our students but it does require a time commitment of faculty to design, develop, and teach online. The highest of quality should be our goal for this endeavor. These guidelines represent adult learning research and national quality standards for online learning.
- Create Learning Module Outlines. Outlining your learning modules may seem like a planning task but this matrix tool will serve as a guide for what components, learning activities, assignments, and grading rubrics need to be created for the module. Think of this as a blueprint for each learning module. Example Learning Module Outline (PDF document).
- Create course structure in Blackboard. Start building learning modules or a folder structure in Blackboard based on your learning module outlines. A basic course structure has already been applied to your Blackboard course. You can easily change this structure or download a different Blackboard Template.
- Instructional materials development. Convert content you have created to an online format and gather images, online videos, and other multimedia that can be viewed over the internet. Lecture notes can be easily converted to a PDF format and PowerPoint presentations can be narrated and compressed using a variety of tools. Other media components such as video and graphics can be produced through assistance from instructional designers and media production staff in the FCTL.
- Acquire other course content and request copyright permission. This includes any content you have not authored or created; textbook readings, articles, media. These materials may be placed in Course Reserves in the Meyer Library and then accessed by student from off-campus. Copyright issues must be addressed before posting any of these resources online.
- Create Blackboard assignments, discussion forums, and assessments. Create all student activities and assessments of how you will measure student progress for each learning module or unit.
- Create Module Learning Guides. A learning guide is a document that serves as an itinerary or checklist for students as they progress through the module or unit. It lists assignments and activities students should engage and expectations for successfully completing the unit. Example Learning Guide (PDF document).
- Course Syllabus. The course syllabus for your online or blended course should include expectations for student participation with what students can expect in terms of feedback and response time from their instructor. Include a schedule of class meetings if blended and a list of all assignments, tasks, and due dates. Example Course Syllabus (PDF document).
- Welcome Announcement. Create a welcome announcement for your students that will serve as a brief introduction and guide students how to get started in the course. Example Welcome Announcement.
Step Three: Peer Review
- Course Development Guidelines. Use the Course Development Guidelines and Rubric as a self-assessment tool to review your course.
- Peer Review. The FCTL facilitates a peer review process where faculty have the opportunity to provide and receive constructive feedback based on the Course Development Guidelines and Rubric. The purpose of the peer review is to provide the faculty developers with constructive feedback regarding their course design and effectiveness. A peer review cam be a valuable opportunity for instructional improvement prior to teaching the course.
- Analyze the feedback. Provided with feedback from the peer review process you can revise the course accordingly. The more you perfect your course the fewer trials you and your students will have in the online or blended classroom thus minimizing headaches and additional work of teaching online.
- Summary of Best Practices
- Course Development Guidelines and Rubric