Getting Started with Online Course Design

When faculty develop an online course for the first time, they are often surprised by the work that goes into planning and developing the structure, materials, and assignments. Even when a course is well established, transitioning it into an online format typically involves rethinking aspects of the structure, flow, and learning strategies to take advantage of the online environment. CATLR has recently updated its website resources to help faculty anticipate what is involved in online course design and plan for a successful experience with the development process.

Our newly produced video, Designing an Online Course, presents a first-hand faculty perspective on online course development. Dr. Adam Cooper is a 2017 CATLR Online Course Design Fellow. In the video, Dr. Cooper discusses his experience developing an online version of “Introduction to Language and Linguistics.” As you hear his narrative and see screenshots of the course, you will gain both an understanding of the process and a vision of what one online course looks like.

If you need to develop an online course, we can help you understand the process and timelines associated with adapting an existing on-campus course for online, or developing a new course from scratch. Then we can consult with you on designing effective online learning strategies and identifying the skills and resources needed to to help you produce your course. Explore a roadmap for online course design.

While many factors can influence the development time frame, CALTR suggests that faculty anticipate spending 4-6 months of regular work time to design and develop an online course. We have compiled a self-assessment instrument to help faculty consider the factors that might impact online course development and estimate the time needed for their course development project. Download the self-assessment and save the form locally to complete it.

As you work through the process of designing individual course modules, the Online Course Design Learning Potential Rubric can help you gauge the extent to which your course reflects evidence-based learning principles and also give you ideas about how to improve your design.

We hope these resources will answer many questions and provide guidance on this substantial undertaking. Feel free to contact CATLR to request a consultation on your course design project.

For an overview of research on online learning, see:

Simonson, M., Schlosser, C., & Orellana, A. (2011). Distance education research: A review of the literatureJournal of Computing in Higher Education, 23, 124–142.