Course Design

OTDI instructional designers work one-on-one with Ohio State Online program faculty and instructors over a semester-long course design collaboration.

During this time, program faculty may also consult with our educational technologists, instructional multimedia specialists, and library specialists. Online programs might include courses previously offered in other modalities alongside brand-new courses unique to the program. Either way, the OTDI instructional design team supports online program faculty throughout every phase of the design process. Collaboration typically happens through weekly meetings and requires a time commitment from the instructor between meetings to organize materials and create new content. 


Envisioning and Planning the Course

Online courses require different approaches and considerations than in-person courses. Setting aside the “old” and envisioning the “new” isn’t an easy task. On the other hand, creating a new online course affords exciting opportunities for reimagining course structure, student engagement, key topics and skill acquisition. Online program instructors work closely with OTDI instructional designers, turning course materials into stories optimized for online learning environments.

Each semester-long course design collaboration begins with a kickoff meeting, during which online program instructors and OTDI instructional designers brainstorm and prioritize goals. Together, OTDI instructional designers and faculty employ a backward design process to:

  • Articulate course outcomes
  • Determine assessments for measuring outcomes
  • Build a week-by-week learning plan with supporting activities

Throughout this process, online program instructors offer ideas for outcomes, assessment, and activities. OTDI instructional designers then collaboratively develop these ideas using evidence-based effective practices for online teaching. Together, the online program instructor and the instructional designer generate a course design plan that takes advantage of online learning environments and guides students to success.


Building the Course

CarmenCanvas, Ohio State’s learning management system, is the hub for online courses and learning experiences. OTDI has created a Carmen course template that is easily navigable and visually appealing by using modules. Each module offers specific content templates for lecture materials and various assignment types. OTDI instructional designers work with instructors to customize this template based on each course’s design plan. Every Carmen course template also includes a customizable online syllabus template for communicating course plans.

There are two goals of each course design collaboration. By the conclusion, we ensure there is a solid course structure within Carmen. More importantly, we empower faculty by imparting skills necessary for course development and maintenance. As such, OTDI instructional designers will connect online program faculty with appropriate professional learning opportunities.

Online program faculty may also receive assistance in creating or curating course content from:

  • Educational technologists, who can advise on the best uses of university-supported technology when planning course activities and assignments
  • The instructional multimedia team, who can help instructors capture and create audio and visual content
  • library specialist, who can consult on copyright and fair use considerations, locate open educational resources, and support information literacy skills that might be needed in a course


Delivering the Course

Direct OTDI support for new online courses concludes after the semester-long collaboration with an instructional designer. However, the course design process influences how online program faculty deliver their courses, which includes:

  • Generating a calendar or checklist of pre-semester and ongoing administrative tasks for the course, and providing links to helpful resources
  • Anticipating the instructor workload for designed activities and assessments
  • Equipping instructors with knowledge of learning technologies necessary for course maintenance and revisions, such as the addition of weekly overview videos or whole class announcements


Refining the Course

No newly designed online course is 100% perfect on its first iteration. Our instructional design process introduces online program instructors to tools for gathering key data and evaluating a course’s effectiveness. The backward design process generates effective measurements in the form of course assessments that help instructors determine whether course outcomes are being met. Our Carmen template also includes a customizable survey for gathering student feedback throughout the course.

Importantly, this data informs an OTDI-facilitated revision of each course after three years. During this revision, online program faculty are again paired with an OTDI instructional designer who helps brainstorm and execute course updates. If additional support is needed before the three-year mark, online program instructors may request a one-hour consultation.


For more information about teaching online classes at Ohio State, check out OTDI's effective practices for online teaching, or request a consultation.