Online Course Design

Essential Components of Online Course Design

Through thoughtful and purposeful course design, faculty can:

  • Provide students with information about how to navigate the course, including a detailed syllabus and clear instructions for getting started.
  • State and build upon clear, measurable learning objectives or competencies.
  • Employ relevant learning activities, assessments, and course materials that align with objectives or competencies.
  • Provide regular opportunities to interact and engage (student-student, student-faculty, student-content).
  • Use technologies to achieve objectives or competencies.
  • Inform students about how to find support for their needs (technical, student services, academic, and so on).
  • Offer a course that is accessible to all students, including those with disabilities or different learning preferences.

Recommended Timeline for Course Development

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Two to three semesters before the course begins...

  • Attend IT training workshops.
  • Complete professional development for online teaching. Check our Calendar of Events for upcoming opportunities.
  • Write measurable learning outcomes.
  • Select Course Materials (textbook, e-Reserves, publisher content, and so on).
  • Identify course technologies (lecture capture, blogs, wikis, collaboration, web conferencing, and so on).

One to two semesters before the course begins...

  • Identify or produce any new instructional materials (videos, presentations, and so on), with the option to use Library Services or Video Support resources.
  • Create course activities and assessments.
  • Work with the Assistive Technology Initiative office to ensure web accessibility.

One to three months before the course begins...

If you need assistance with designing your online course, please contact our instructional design team at

Additional Resources