Teaching Online: DESIGN

The basics for designing an online course. Topics include: refining student learning outcomes, assignment and assessment design, drafting rubrics, lesson planning, and course evaluation.

Course Design Concepts

(Read Time: ~4 Minutes) 

Faculty Commons partners recommend becoming familiar with Backward Design, a course design framework that applies the concept of “beginning with the end in mind.” Rather than using content to drive your course design, this approach asks you to start by identifying the desired results you hope students will achieve from taking your course. In other words, what will students be able to do after successfully completing your course? These desired results are the student learning outcomes (SLOs) that will drive much of the design of your course. Identify desired results, determine assessment evidence, plan learning experiences and instructions. A model for backward design.

A Course in Context

As part of this design process, you will also need to consider the situational factors that will influence each component of your course. Examples of situational factors are learner characteristics, the nature of the subject matter, and how the course fits into a larger curricular and societal context.   In Teaching Online Together you’ll discuss how curricular sequences, student preparedness, and your own comfort with technology tools are key situational factors in the design process.  Other design frameworks such as ADDIE, which is covered in the Designing Effective Learning Experiences Online course, are also helpful in thinking about situational factors.

Evidence of Learning

After developing student learning outcomes (SLOs) for your course, your next step will be to develop assessments– ways that students will demonstrate attainment of the new knowledge and skills and receive feedback. For most people, the natural place to start is with the course’s “major” assignments e.g., exams, large projects, term paper(s). Once these assignments are developed, they can be (a) checked to ensure they are aligned with and address all of the course SLOs and (b) analyzed to determine what specific skills and knowledge students need to be successful in those assessments. Ideally, these assessments will be as authentic as possible, that is to say, simulating real-world contexts as much as possible,  within the limitations and resources of your course. 

Achieving Desired Results

Next, you will plan the learning experiences and instruction for your students.  Having a clear vision of the desired results  – identified through the student learning outcomes and evidenced in the major assignment – choices can now be made as to the teaching methods, learning activities, and  resource materials you will want to include in your course. You will now make decisions about what content is important – identifying content that is meaningful and directly connects to the learning outcomes. During this step in the design process, consider learning activities that will engage your students and provide them with opportunities to practice smaller components of the major assignment and receive feedback.  

Design Resources 

Visit Current Training Opportunities to learn more about additional programs and short courses that offer deep-dives into teaching and designing courses online.

Specific Training:

  • Getting Started with Online Learning at the University of Delaware: A Guide for Instructors (24-page eBook PDF)
  • Course Syllabus Consultation (Online)

I got it! Take me to the next step. I’m ready to ENGAGE my students through some great online teaching strategies.

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