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Center for Teaching Excellence


College Student Studying

Course Design and Development

Developing online courses begins with careful planning. This not only makes teaching the course easier, but also enhances students' learning experiences.

Planning is the Key

If you're considering teaching online — either in a fully online, blended, or hybrid format — you've come to the right resource! If you’re already teaching online and want recommendations on taking it to the next level, we’re here for you too!  CTE's Faculty Associate Directors and Instructional Designers are available to help you in the planning and development process.  

Typically, it takes anywhere from 3-6 months to plan a course and develop content before it is taught online for the first time. We utilize a backwards design model to walk you through this process where we start with what you want your students to learn by the time they're through with your course. Many of the decisions affecting the success of a course take place well before the first day of class. Once your course is planned, teaching involves implementing your course design on a day-to-day level.

The first step in the process is to determine if your course is approved to be taught online. If it is not approved, then you will need to submit an online Distributed Education Delivery (DED) form through the Academic Programs Proposal System (APPS) and paperwork for review by your department, college or school, and Faculty Senate.


Course Review

Working with faculty, the CTE's Instructional Designers will design, assess and review courses to determine if they enable students to achieve learning outcomes and have meaningful learning experiences. If you would like a copy of the University’s Quality Assurance Standards, please email us at cte@sc.edu.  


Course Design and Review Process

1. Contact an Instructional Designer at the CTE.

To schedule an appointment, you can use our Distributed Learning Consultation Request Form, or just give us a call at 803-777-8322 and ask to speak to an Instructional Designer.

2. Meet with the Instructional Designer to discuss your course.

Share your vision for the course, your teaching style, and how we can assist you. Our designers can work with you to review your course and tailor it meet your specific needs, and offer you information about:

  • Creating meaningful learning objectives
  • Designing a course structure that matches your content and teaching style
  • Identify appropriate activities and media to meet course objectives
  • Building accessibility for students with disabilities
  • Setting a timeline for course completion
3. Check for financial incentives.

Once you have a plan for your course development, you may wish to inquire about funds for course upgrades that may be available from your department or college. Your Instructional Designer can let you know some of the funding that may be available.

4. Begin building/revising your course.

Working with your Instructional Designer, your course can be built using our Quality Assurance Standards for best practices. We also encourage you to create an account with Quality Matters and take the course assessment to determine where your course may need work. Your Instructional Designer can assist you to:

  • Structure the online presence.
  • Scaffold the learning process based on the objectives and activities.
  • Locate media and check copyright.
  • Develop online lectures.
  • Build in accessibility for students with disabilities.
  • Meet timeline milestones.
5. Review the course for best practices.

Our Instructional Design team at the CTE will review the course and make recommendations for changes. Your Instructional Designer can then help you finalize the course.

6. Will you need a Distributed Education Delivery (DED) form?

 Your Instructional Designer can help you determine if you need to submit an online Distributed Education Delivery (DED) form for course approval through the Academic Programs Proposal System (APPS), and assist you with the steps for completing it.

7. Begin teaching your course online.

 Your support from the CTE doesn't stop there! When you run into issues or have questions, you can still contact your Instructional Designer for assistance and corrections.

During this process, CTE's Instructional Designers take into consideration the following overall general standards and best practices:

  • Course Overview and Introduction
  • Learning Objectives (Competencies)
  • Assessment and Measurement
  • Instructional Materials
  • Learner Interaction and Engagement
  • Course Technology
  • Learner Support
  • Usability
  • Accessibility

Best Practices for Online Courses

  1. Create clear and measurable course learning outcomes and modular learning objectives and align to assessments and activities
  2. Have students introduce themselves at the beginning of the course for community building
  3. Set clear expectations at the beginning of the course
  4. Create a “Getting Started” or “Start Here” section of the course so students know where to begin
  5. Communicate often with students
  6. Create a detailed and organized syllabus
  7. Create interactive, accessible courses: student-student, student-instructor, student-content interactions
  8. Chunk course information and materials into manageable segments
  9. Instructor-created short lecture captioned/transcribed videos should be no longer than 15-20 minutes
  10. Create and distribute a rubric to students for all graded assignments

To schedule an appointment with an Instructional Designer, please complete and submit the Distributed Learning Consultation Request Form