Digital Learning & Design

Course Design Process

Learn our process for creating effective, engaging, and inclusive online courses

The Instructional Designers and Media Producers of the Digital Learning & Design (DLD) team partner with instructors throughout the online course lifecycle to create engaging and effective student learning experiences. Whether the course begins as a face-to-face class or is designed from scratch, course development takes considerable time and thought. 

Before embarking on this journey, an instructor should ask themself:

  1. Why do I want to design and teach an online course?
  2. Do you normally completely design your course before it begins? How much time do you have to design an online course before it begins?
  3.  In what ways do I want my online course to be engaging, student-centered and dynamic?

Roles & Responsibilities Course Design Timeline

During the Planning Stage, instructors should consider what students will be able to do as a result of their learning experience, as well as delineate how that experience will benefit them. Instructors will partner with the Digital Learning & Design team to outline rigorous, student-centered learning experiences and to devise clear course goals.

During the Design Stage, instructors partner with Instructional Designers to design assignments, projects, discussions, and other activities that support the course learning objectives. Instructors will consider how each activity assesses student learning. 

During this stage, instructors will also work closely with the media team to plan videos, interactive elements, and other media assets suited to the course content.

As this stage draws to a close, instructors will have a short list of clearly defined learning objectives, as well as a course outline or syllabus that identifies the majority of course content and media assets (text, readings, images, videos, interactive elements).

The next stage? Writing the course content.

Writing course content happens well before the course opens to students. During this stage instructors will write out the full text of all course content, including assessments, instructions, and other materials. This can also include media content. By the end of this stage, instructors will be able to build the course in Canvas.

During this stage, the instructor places course content, including assignments, discussions, and media, in the online learning platform with the help of an instructional designer.

Canvas is Brown University’s primary online Learning Management System, or LMS. Canvas allows instructors to build, teach and manage their courses online. It provides a collection of built-in tools instructors can use to upload and present content, communicate with students, create individual and group assignments, create assessments, and track student performance and grades. 

At the end of the build stage, instructors should have a completed online course ready for quality and usability testing.

The final stage sees the course open to students.