Online Course Development

When you work with Digital Learning to develop your online course, you'll have support from a team of experts with skills in instructional design, instructional technology, and digital media production. 

Together, we can create accessible, inclusive, and engaging online courses that meet the needs of all students.

Our course development process starts with a consultation between the faculty developer and the instructional designer who will manage the project. 

An initial course consultation typically involves the following:

  1. Needs Assessment: Understanding the instructor's goals, target audience, and any specific requirements or constraints for the course.
  2. Review of Existing Materials: Evaluating any existing course materials, syllabi, and assessments to identify areas for improvement or enhancement.
  3. Discussion of Learning Objectives: Collaborating with the instructor to define clear and measurable course objectives that align with the desired student learning outcomes.
  4. Outline Course Structure: Developing an initial course outline or framework, including an overview of topics, module breakdown, and suggested instructional strategies to achieve the learning objectives.

Technology Tools and Multimedia

Throughout the course development project, additional consultations or coaching sessions may be scheduled with instructional technologists and digital media specialists to collaborate on the development of new activities or instructional materials.

Coaching sessions empower faculty developers to build and maintain content and activities such as:

For more complex activities, an instructional technologist and faculty developer will work together to plan and develop content that can enhance teaching effectiveness, promote student engagement, and improve student learning outcomes.

Perform a Learner Analysis

Begin by identifying and defining the characteristics of the learners who will be taking the online course. Consider demographics such as age, academic background, prior knowledge, and technical proficiency.

Additionally, assess the students' learning styles, preferences, and any potential challenges they may face in an online learning environment. 

Gathering this information will help tailor the course to meet the diverse needs of the students.

Craft Learning Objectives

Learning objectives are the foundation of online course design and should be the driving force when considering your assessments, learning activities, and instructional materials. The goal is not for students to know something just for the sake of knowing it. Rather, we want student learning to be relevant to overall course goals and future pursuits. 

Creating Learning Objectives

Create a Course Outline

A Course Outline is a planning tool used to organize the major topics and subtopics of a course and determine the order in which the topics should be presented. 

Identify major topics and subtopics, and organize modules based on concepts, skills, time periods, geography, or sequences. Think of this outline as a blueprint for creating the structure of your course before building it in the university’s Learning Management System (LMS), Canvas.

Download the Course Outline and Timeline Template (.docx)

Download an Example Course Outline (.docx)

Create a Course Map

A Course Map is used to connect learning activities, assessments, instructional materials, and course tools for each module. Map out each element to ensure that they align with both course-level and module-level learning objectives throughout your course.

Align assessments with course objectives to promote critical thinking and knowledge application. Use a mix of low stakes (formative) and high stakes (summative) assessments, including quizzes, assignments, discussions, presentations, simulations, case studies, role-plays, and more.

Download the Course Map Template (.docx)

Create or Adapt Instructional Materials

The Course Map will help identify where existing new content needs to be developed.

Whether creating new content or adapting existing materials, chunk information into smaller, manageable pieces. The nature of the content will influence how this happens. In text, the addition of headings, subheadings, concise paragraphs, and bullet points can make the information more coherent. Long video content can be editing into several smaller sections based on topics or natural break points in the process.

In a course consultation, our staff can help identify opportunities to enhance content with multimedia elements and interactive activities when appropriate.

Follow a Quality Assurance Checklist

Use a quality assurance checklist during the development of an online course to ensure a high-quality learning experience for all students. All essential elements should be thoroughly evaluated such as content accuracy, instructional design, interactivity, and technical functionality.

Canvas provides a multi-level Course Evaluation Checklist to support Canvas course creators and elevate the quality of their online courses.

Canvas Course Evaluation Checklist v2.0

Create a Syllabus

Provide guidance to your students, not only the course schedule and assignments, but also the required polices to meet online course standards.

Download the ODUGlobal Syllabus Template (.docx)

The Center for Faculty Development also has extensive syllabus design resources.

As the instructor of an online course, it is important to create an online presence in your course so that students can identify you as their instructor and contact you if they need help.

  • A clear instructor online presence helps students feel less isolated and promotes interactive, engaged learning.

  • It is important to set clear expectations and guidelines for communication with your students.

  • Students appreciate knowing how they will receive feedback from you about their assignments.