Course Development Process

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Kickoff Meeting First week of the semester or earlier

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The Assistant Director will meet individually with each course author prior to the start of the semester. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the following:

  • Overview of instructional design theory, learning theory and best practices for online courses
  • Roles of the course author, instructional designer, multimedia developer and instructional design assistant
  • Process for designing and developing online courses
  • Course Outline and how to complete the provided template
  • Importance of learning objectives and review of Bloom’s Taxonomy
  • Preferred online lesson structure and format
  • Significance of addressing accessibility and adhering to copyright laws during development
  • Timeframe for development and important milestones

The Assistant Director will also answer questions or address concerns of the course author, along with providing the contact information for the course author’s assigned instructional designer.

Introductions and Needs Assessment Meeting Week 2

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The instructional designer will meet with the course author to conduct a needs assessment in the second week of the semester. The needs assessment includes a discussion about the anticipated strengths and weaknesses of offering the course online, strategies for how course content can be presented to achieve desired learning outcomes and reach the targeted audience, initial ideas for student activities, and appropriate assessment methods. Throughout this discussion, the instructional designer will offer guidance based on his/her knowledge of instructional design theory, learning theory, best practices and current research in higher education. If the course is currently being offered in a face-to-face setting, the instructional designer will ask for a copy of the syllabus and may request to sit in on the class.

During this meeting, the instructional designer will also review the course author’s progress on the Course Outline template and assist them with any questions

Course Design Meeting Week 3

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After conducting the Needs Assessment meeting with the Course Author, the instructional designer will do additional research to locate articles and case studies related to the topic area and ideas discussed, and using these, will identify evidence-based course designs that are supported by instructional design and learning theories. The instructional designer will narrow down design options and prepare drafts of these options to share with the course author.

The main purpose of the Course Design meeting is for the instructional designer and course author to agree on the design or overall approach to the course organization and structure that will enable the students to meet the desired learning outcomes. The instructional designer will also discuss the best means to support the course design using instructional strategies (e.g., utilizing case studies, providing

practice with feedback, incorporating role-playing activities), best practices (e.g., interspersing check yourself activities in each lesson, adding feedback for quiz questions, using rubrics to ensure consistency in grading), multimedia elements (e.g., video, images, charts, diagrams), and the various technologies and tools available to Penn State faculty and students (e.g., Voicethread, YouSeeU, Turnitin).

During this meeting, the instructional designer will assist the course author in finalizing the Course Outline template and provide information and guidelines about how to write the first lesson for the course. In addition, they will set up weekly standing meetings for the development period.

Course Development for First Three Lessons Weeks 4-9

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The course author, serving as the subject matter expert, will write content and share it with the instructional designer for feedback. The instructional designer will make recommendations on how to effectively present, sequence and elaborate on the content in an online environment as well as assist the course author in creating online activities and assessments that meet the desired objectives and engage the learners.

Examples of recommendations for content would include incorporating text design strategies, rewording sentences for an active rather than passive voice, chunking lesson content to make it easier to understand, using transitions to improve the flow of the lesson, and identifying where interactive elements and/or multimedia to assist with the students’ comprehension.

Generally, writing the first three lessons is a learning experience for the course author, so more than one revision may be required. During this time, the instructional designer is readily available to the course author to provide guidance and feedback as needed. After this point, the course author acquires the base-level skills to write the remaining lessons with one revision cycle.

Continued Course Development To be completed in two semesters

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The course author and the instructional designer meet weekly to discuss revisions and activities for the remaining lessons. The instructional designer acts as the project manager to keep the development on track and oversee the activities of the instructional design assistant and multimedia specialist. Course Development must be completed within a two-semester time frame.

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