Online Course Design for College and University Faculty
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, colleges and universities are offering a range of course options: face-to-face, online, and hybrid (sometimes referred to as blended) instruction. Whether reimagining how to convert a face-to-face course to an online or hybrid course or designing a new online course, you might well find the principles of backward design beneficial. With this method, you begin by developing course goals and learning objectives and work backward from there to develop assessments, learning activities, and your content, in that order.
When you have thought through these key components, you are ready to build them into your learning management system (LMS). Regardless of which LMS your college or university uses, you will build your course using sequentially ordered modules (i.e., lessons or units) that organize class materials around topics. Each module will contain these key components: course goals and learning objectives, assessments, learning activities, and content.
Once you’ve completed building your online course, there are some other factors to consider. Before the course begins you should review the course as well as test and fine-tune the content. You should also consider how to make your students feel welcome and supported. This is especially the case as many students are transitioning from all face-to-face courses to all online or hybrid courses. You can do this by:
- Promoting belonging
- Fostering student engagement
- Ensuring equity and access
When the course is underway, you will need to collect data. By collecting data, you can identify the strengths of the course and where you can make adjustments. Once the course ends, you can evaluate and consider revisions for the future. Just as with a face-to-face course, you should do one thing at a time, building one element upon the next. Over time, you’ll make adjustments to improve the quality of the course and be better and better able to present a vital and irreplaceable learning experience for your students. They deserve nothing less.
Joe Bandy shares some final thoughts about the online course development process (time: 1:20).
Joe Bandy, PhD
Assistant Director, Center for Teaching