Online Course Design

As technology advances and the student population changes, more faculty are considering online course delivery. Part of the appeal of online learning is the flexibility of time and space. Students engage with the course material wherever they are and at whatever time is most convenient, making this especially appealing for students who work, have families, or are unable to be on campus. For faculty planning to teach a well-designed online course, it is important to consider:

  • Content development for a well-designed online course is more time-consuming due to a greater need to create rich media that stimulates virtual interaction;
  • Instructors must learn how to use the technologies and integrate a diverse set of technology and tools into the online environment;
  • Discussion is more natural in a face-to-face environment, therefore instructors must intentionally build in similar engagement opportunities;
  • Because many online learning can reach students from other countries and cultures, careful consideration must be given to diverse demographics and backgrounds when designing course content; and.
  • Significant effort is necessary to create a feeling of community and prevent students from feeling isolated.

Due to these challenges, the process of creating a well-designed online course starts 5-6 months prior to the semester in which it will be taught. Sufficient time to plan and prepare a course is essential for ensuring the best outcomes for students and faculty alike. CETL’s eCampus has created resources to assist in the self-design process.

Planning/Designing Your Course

The five steps in planning/designing your course

Step 1: Organize Course Information
Step 2: Develop Learning Objectives
Step 3: Plan an Assessment Strategy
Step 4: Design Instructional Materials and Activities
Step 5. Review and Evaluate

A key step of the design process is designing your learning objectives. These objectives will provide a foundation for the course and guide you in making appropriate curricular and assessment choices. Clearly expressing the objectives and outcomes informs learners as to what is expected of them, allowing them to monitor their performance and learning against these objectives and outcomes. As instructors create course activities and assessments, they will be mapped to these objectives to ensure outcomes are achieved. This mapping provides a foundation for learners to achieve learning objectives and ensures the instructor is building a learning experience consistent with the intended outcomes.

Preparing/Developing Your Course

The second of the 3  phases includes designing, building, and teaching online course.

The three steps in Phase 2 are:
Step 1: Choose a HuskyCT Course Structure
Step 2: Build Your Modules, Activities, Assessments, Assignments, and Content
Step 3. Review and Evaluate

Now that the course is planned, it needs to be developed in HuskyCT. If you are new to HuskyCT, EdTech has made resources available on how to use various features. EdTech also offers training, additionally EdTech has created recordings of some of these trainings.

Teaching Your Course

The third phase of the process is to teach the course.

The three steps in this phase are:
Step 1: Finalize Your Syllabus
Step 2: Review eCampus Knowledge Base Articles on Teaching Online
Step 3. Review and Evaluate

Overview of eCampus’ Comprehensive Course Support Model

Some faculty opt to work with CETL’s eCampus to undergo a comprehensive faculty development and course support model. For a consultation on planning and preparing your online course, or any other related consultation, please submit a support request.


“4 Expert Strategies for Designing an Online Course” from Inside Higher Ed