Online Course Design

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Online Course Design – Today we kick off one of my favorite times of the year – and no, it’s not pumpkin spice season (although it’s up there…), it’s WOW celebration season!

For the next several weeks, Frontiers will feature blog post authors from the 2021 Outstanding Work (WOW) award winners. With a slightly different focus this year, we solicited stories about the bravery of member institutional staff, faculty, administrators, and students to meet the challenges of the COPVID-19 pandemic.

Online Course Design

Online Course Design

To kick off awards season, Kara Anand-Gall, an instructional designer from the University of Miami’s regional e-campus, joins her to discuss their online course development process and how the pandemic has changed to create an online-enhanced course development process. Hybrid, synchronous courses and by the end of 2020, they had 350 “certified online” faculty using their new models to teach distance delivery courses.

Applying Learning Principles To Online Course Design

Online since 1999, University of Miami Regional has long worked to develop distance learning course guidelines and best practices for online/hybrid asynchronous (what we call “-A”) courses in partnership with E-Campus. Development. This process resulted in a robust online course catalog, including nine fully online programs and nearly 300 courses representing thirteen different departments. The pandemic challenged us to build on this strong foundation to design a framework for developing online/hybrid synchronous (“-S”) courses.

Our long-term course development process involves three phases: online faculty orientation (E1), course planning (E2), and design and production (E3).

Managed by our e-Faculty Engagement team, the first phase is designed to prepare faculty to teach or develop their first online course on e-Campus. E1 includes the following possibilities

Completion of E1 meets the higher education standards for professional practice online education, required by our regulatory bodies. Additionally, it gives our teachers the opportunity to grow their careers, and most importantly, their ability to impact student learning – our mission. Over time, this orientation has been traditionally invited by the University of Miami regional regions so that new faculty members are hired and complete the E1 level as part of the board.

The Abcs Of Online Course Design

The second and third course development processes were facilitated by our instructional design team. These phases, every eight weeks, involve collaboration between the instructional designer and individual or small group faculty course authors. The E2 process involves planning the course, focusing on alignment between course learning outcomes, module learning outcomes, learning activities and assessments. E2 is completed with an online course blueprint or curriculum map. From there, faculty move to E3, the design and production phase, where the teacher/instructional designer team moves the blueprint into a reproducible course shell. At the conclusion of E3, the course will be internally peer-reviewed using quality issues and OSCQR standards.

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented us with a new audience: teachers who typically teach in face-to-face environments. New to us, new to virtual environments, new to technology, they scrambled to move their courses quickly into online -A and -S course formats.

Our team quickly chose to support, train and empower this new audience. We have expanded our support resources to meet their needs. We have adjusted our development schedule to accommodate additional courses. We facilitated 26 workshops and three faculty learning communities, all focused on pandemic-response education, reaching 120 unique participants. Additionally, we’ve published 52 articles that include evidence-based best practices for online learning, including topics such as screencasting technology, video conferencing software, and Canvas features. Our defining pillar was a new process design specifically for the development of -S courses. Initially, we took key elements from our A-course development process into this new framework, focusing on the learning, planning, design and evaluation phases.

Online Course Design

We knew we didn’t have the resources or time to extend our existing A-course planning and design processes into the development of an S-course. And we found ourselves stuck in the mindset of best practices we’ve used for a while – course development. We’ve learned that it’s almost always possible to “catch up” through collaboration, so our E-Faculty Engagement team formed an interdisciplinary committee of faculty, student, and e-campus representatives under the ECCOE initiative to create a new one. Process especially for the development of -S courses. Their primary objective was to maintain regulatory compliance and create a consistent experience for students within a context of teacher autonomy.

Design Tips To Improve Your Online Course Content

With guidance from the committee, the e-campus developed and implemented a process that complies with regulations, allows for flexibility and personalization, and provides a consistent student-experience. Course Development Checklist; and pre-course delivery consultation with faculty to ensure delivery of high-quality concurrent courses. The e-Faculty Engagement team acts as partners in this process to guide faculty through the process, resources, and requirements. Beginning in Fall 2021, all -S University of Miami regional courses will be required to meet the following minimum requirements.

“Recognizing that there is a difference between well-planned and developed online courses or distance learning programs, and various methods have been rushed to meet the urgent needs of the situation.” – John Nwori

As E-Campus, we know the value of a well-planned and developed online course. As a result of the systematic implementation of both -A and -S course development processes, by the end of 2020, 350 “certified online” faculty were teaching distance delivery courses. Adapting our program to accommodate further development resulted in a 62% increase in new A-course provision completed in 2020. Over the summer we rolled out our new -S course process, and by fall 2021, 126 -S courses taught by 65 instructors were ready for takeover, all successfully following the new framework.

These efforts have been—and will continue to be—critical to our successful open-access, low-education mission of serving the surrounding population and communities, primarily low-income, first-generation, and urban Appalachians. 27% of our students are minorities, 36% are non-traditional and 31% are first generation. Our activities have served as a buffer against the cost of awareness from COVID-19 for a student population that has previously experienced significant disadvantages and disparities in contrast to their peers.

E Learning Course Curriculum Development Process Infographic Template

We are happy to share our -A or -S development processes in more detail. Contact us at with questions.

Cara Anand-Gal is an instructional designer with the University of Miami Regional e-Campus. A former English teacher with nearly two decades of experience in curriculum design, teaching, and graphic design, her goals are to use digital platforms and educational best practices to develop meaningful learning programs that drive student engagement and retention. She is currently pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Miami.

About the University of Miami Regional e-Campus: The Miami Regional e-Campus Office is the hub for all online and hybrid courses and programs at the regional campuses. We work with faculty to create interactive and rich online and hybrid learning experiences that allow students a more flexible Miami learning environment. Our office provides faculty training and support while monitoring online and hybrid course compliance. We use Quality Matters as a guide for our quality online experiences.

Online Course Design

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Online Course Design Mistakes To Avoid

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A lot of interesting research has been coming out of the learning sciences lately, allowing us to better follow our courses.

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