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Online Course Development

The following is a high-level summary of the tasks involved in creating and teaching an online course. For more information, we suggest that you contact ITS Instructional Design for consultation and refer to How ITS Can Help at the bottom of this page.

Online Course Defined

 An online course is one in which more than 50 percent of its content is delivered online. It typically consists of:

  • Documents: for example, syllabi, assignments, project instructions, rubrics, offline tests, etc.
  • Service-based features: for example, online assessments, discussion forums, grade book, synchronous communication. Services include TRACS and other third-party software.
  • Asset-based materials: for example, graphics, animations, video, Web pages, interactive activities, etc.

What are the steps in building an online course?

First: Plan Your Course on Paper

  1. Start early — at least six months in advance. Set interim deadlines for yourself for completion of each task. Developing an online course is labor intensive and can be difficult to do concurrent with teaching the course.
  2. Create a content outline, chunking the content into modules. View an example.
  3. Write learning objectives for each of the modules. Learning objectives provide specifications for assessment and guide the development of instructional strategies. They communicate to students the standards and expectations of the course. Read about important considerations when writing learning objectives
  4. Become familiar with TRACS and third-party tools and how they can be used to support learning and assessment. Read about technology options.
  5. Develop a planning matrix. The planning matrix provides an overview of all the activities in the course.
    • Enter the module titles and objectives for each module. View an example.
    • Determine how you will provide online content. Read about content options for online courses.
    • Determine assignments and assessments by which students will demonstrate mastery of each objective. Consider online quizzes and exams as well as discussion prompts, essays and papers, student presentations or media, etc. Add the online content, assignments and assessments to the matrix and indicate after each objective how students will demonstrate mastery of that objective. View an example.
  6. Review the planning matrix to determine if there is a mix of activities that engage students and if the workload is manageable. Read about important considerations when reviewing the planning matrix for an online course.

Second: Produce or Obtain the Course Content

Developing online content is the most time-consuming aspect of designing an online course. Plan to carve out plenty of time to do this.

Third: Build TRACS Components

After you have planned the course and developed all the course materials, you are ready to build the course in TRACS.

Fourth: Pilot the Course

  • Facilitate the course. Building a well-structured online course is only part of the equation for successful online teaching; facilitating is the other part of the equation. Facilitation includes creating a social presence and providing regular, timely feedback. For tips refer to Course Management and Communication.
  • Survey students at mid semester and at the end of the semester to collect feedback about the course. View a list of possible survey questions.
  • Analyze the feedback from the survey(s) and revise the course accordingly. As you continue to tweak your course, you will have fewer questions from students and your workload will decrease.
  • Complete the Principles of Best Practice. For information on the Principles of Best Practice visit Texas State’s Extended and Distance Learning site

How ITS Can Help

Consultation

  • Schedule a time to meet with an instructional designer to talk about your course. Contact Liz Strand at es22@txstate.edu.

Workshops

  • Apply to the 40-hour Creating and Teaching an Online Course workshop offered in January, May, and July. The workshop is offered in a hybrid format (part online and part face to face).
  • Submit a proposal to attend the 2-week Technology Integration workshop in August. Look for a VPIT announcement in the spring semester.
  • Attend one or more of the following 1.5-hour pedagogy and technology workshops. For more information, visit the ITS Workshop site
    • Survival Skills for Online Teaching
    • Creating Teaching Presence in an Online Course
    • Manage an Online Course and Still Have a Life
    • Using Online Discussions Effectively
    • Teaching with the Power of Web 2.0
    • Online Collaboration: Supporting Student Teams
  • Attend technology workshops. For more information, visit the ITS Workshop site

Resources