Online Course Development

How to start working with us on an online course or special project

To start working on an upcoming online course, ask questions about remote teaching, or explore support for a special project, contact us at

Important things to know before you start:

  1. Plan ahead. New courses/major revisions need to get into the workflow at least 12 months in advance of the launch date—please plan your schedule accordingly.
  2. Note for new courses: if this course is part of a new program, the program first needs to conduct a market analysis to assess the demand and audience. If your program has not done this yet, we will connect you with resources to make this easy.
  3. Converting a course to an online or hybrid format is not a direct or easy translation. Fortunately, your colleagues at the Office of E-Learning Services are experts in instructional design and work with faculty to integrate technology and create high quality learning environments for students in SPH courses.

Timelines for course development

The timelines below are based on different types of projects in order for the course to be ready on the first day of the semester.

  1. Basic update: 2-3 months (no new multimedia; includes time to test the site and request library services)
  2. Revision: 4-12 months (timing is highly variable and depends on scope)
  3. New course or transition from face-to-face course: 12-18 months (faculty frequently report spending at least 200 hours on new courses)

Steps to develop an online course

Note: new courses will go through the entire process; existing courses will be a scaled-down version of this.

Step 1: Course planning

The first step of designing a course is to look at the big picture. Instructional designers collaborate with faculty and/or subject matter experts (SMEs) to discuss instructional goals and how to engage students to help them succeed.

Step 2: Development details & timeline

In order for the launch date to be achievable for a course, the faculty/SME and instructional designer need to agree on a timeline, deliverables, roles and technology requirements.

Step 2 deliverables include:

  • A timeline that includes completion dates for major and minor stages of development
  • A list of all technological components necessary to complete the development and implementation of the course
  • A list of trainings needed for faculty and/or students in order for them to successfully use technological components of the course
  • An agreement of what happens if milestones are missed or delayed

Step 3: Course Design & Development

After planning is complete, the development of everything from the lectures to assessments starts.

Instructional Support

ELS can work with you to develop assessments and other learning activities that will work well for online students and to structure your online course.

Deliverables for instructional support may include:

  • Weekly outlines for the course including topics, the purpose of the week, learning objectives for the week, lectures, readings, other media and multimedia needs, as well as assignment concepts.
  • Review and refinement of learning activity/assessment alignment with learning objectives
  • Rubric development assistance
  • Refine/coach on redesigned learning activities/assessments for online students
  • Instructor presence strategies

Lecture Development

ELS provides a range of services for lectures, from consultation to full development. The full development process is iterative and time-intensive the first time lectures are developed, but reduces time in future semesters. Some courses have few lectures, but others may have 10 or more hours of lectures in a course. Your instructional designer will work with you on a schedule that is appropriate to the amount of content you have.

Deliverables for lecture development may include:

  • Slide design
  • Script editing
  • Licensed images
  • Edited charts and graphs
  • Edited audio
  • Fully produced multimedia lecture
  • PDFs of slides with transcripts

Transcription requirement: it is strongly recommended that faculty script lectures prior to recording. If this is not possible, the department should pay for transcription in order to comply with guidelines for accessibility. For more information about accessibility in online courses, see Accessible U and ask your instructional designer more about how to implement the seven core skills in your courses.

Canvas Course Site Development

Beginning with the SPH Canvas Template, which is available in Canvas Commons, instructional designers build the Canvas site for the course. The result of this process is a completed course site.

Deliverables for Canvas course development may include:

  • Externally-produced resources (PDFs, multimedia, lectures, documents) loaded into course site
  • Set up course quizzes
  • Set up course assignments
  • Set up discussions
  • Set up gradebook
  • Readings list provided to Libraries and added to course site

Canvas course site development varies from course to course. Our instructional designers will define expectations and customize a schedule to meet your specific course needs.

Step 4: Course Review and Testing

Prior to course launch, the Office of E-Learning Services will review and test all online courses that are finished on schedule. Courses that have missed multiple milestones may not be able to launch as planned or will need to scale back media production and other time-intensive goals. It is strongly recommended that courses that are this far behind do not launch as ‘playing catch up’ during the semester negatively impacts student experience, course evaluations, and faculty experience teaching.

Deliverables for review and testing include:

  • Proofread text
  • Clarification of instructions on site
  • Due date reviews
  • Gradebook check
  • Multimedia check
  • Digital Course Pack check
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