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Online Course Development Process Overview



An online course is a combination of three basic elements:

    1. The content; the textbook, or material you will cover, whether home grown, from an OER source, or a commercial publisher. Is the content up-to-date and accurate? Is the academic level appropriate for the audience? Do the students enter the course with the prior knowledge necessary to be successful? Is the pacing appropriate for the length of the course?
    2. The design; the way the content is organized and made available to students. Is the content well organized and visually appealing? Is it clear what the learner is expected to do? Is the navigation intuitive? Is the content accessible? Is it free of broken links, grammatical errors or typos, and other technical errors? Are the due dates correct? Are the instructions clear and concise?
    3. The pedagogy; the way you teach the course. Is the delivery synchronous or asynchronous, or some of each (hybrid/blended)? Is it term-based, with internal deadlines, or is it self-paced and open-ended? Are the learning outcomes clearly identified? Do the assessments measure what you wish the students to learn? Is the delivery engaging? Are there checks for understanding, and opportunities to adjust the delivery to address issues? Is there meaningful and timely feedback on work submitted? Is the workload appropriate? Are students who successfully complete the course meeting the learning outcomes?

For any tech support issues, including questions about course copies, please reach out to us for help at or 928-523-3335.


There are only a few actual requirements when building an online course for NAU but, in addition, we have a lot of recommendations that you may want to consider. Many of these recommendations are tailored to the online environment, both synchronous and asynchronous, which is quite different from that of the face-to-face classroom, where most of our faculty are more experienced. Our advice is designed to help you build and teach your online course effectively, and is based on both research and our personal experience. We respect your academic freedom to make decisions about your course. It's your course, and you're responsible for what's in it, and how you teach it. Our goal is to help you build and teach a course that both meets the externally mandated requirements, and that also helps your students be successful, which ultimately reflects well on you. As it happens, there's one requirement in each of the categories described above:

    1. Content Consideration: Copyright clearance: Materials used in the course must be your own, or used with permission, or fall within fair use guidelines. This is the responsibility of the instructor, but could also expose the university to liability, so violations are taken seriously. Cline Library can assist with securing the rights to use most assets that are not in the public domain, but this can take time, so plan ahead. (More...)
    2. Design Consideration: ADA Section 508 (Americans with Disabilities Act) Compliance: Making your course accessible to students with disabilities is required. This is partly done in advance, during course development, and partly after a review that takes into consideration the specific nature of the disability. If a student discloses a disability and requests an accommodation, you must respond. The best course of action is to immediately ask for assistance from e-Learning and Disability Resources. The ALLY tool can be a big help. (More...)
    3. Pedagogy Consideration: Regular and substantive engagement: Interaction between instructor and students is critical to an effective online course. Without it, even the most self-motivated students can feel lost. Meaningful engagement between students can also be valuable, as it helps build community and create motivation. Engagement includes prompt and helpful feedback on submitted work, and timely responses to student questions. Regular and substantive engagement determines a Higher Ed Institution's eligibility for Federal student aid. A good online course does not "teach itself." (More...)

Our Process

When you work with an Instructional Designer from e-Learning, we'll help you develop a plan for designing the course. Here's our process:


Our online course development process, explained in detail below.

Request Course Design Help

Building the class:

Teaching the class:

Support for Faculty