Filippelli Institute for e-Education and Online Learning
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Course Development

Course Development

Developing a course with the Filippelli Institute is a multistep process that ends with the creation of a new course that aids in the educational mission of the College of the Liberal Arts. Below is a timeline of the process and the steps one would expect to take if they decide to develop a new course through the Institute.

A timeline graphic highlighting the steps in the course development process: Kickoff Meeting, Introductions and Needs Assessment, Course Design Meeting, Course Development Lessons 1-3, Continued Course Development

Kickoff Meeting (First Week of the Semester or Earlier)

The 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)

The instructional designer will meet with the course author to conduct a needs assessment in the second week of the semester. A 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
  • A discussion on appropriate assessment methods
  • A progress-check on the course outline template

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.

Course Design (Meeting Week 3)

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. This includes:

  • Instructional strategies
    • Utilizing case studies, providing practice with feedback, incorporating role-playing activities
  • Consistency best practices
    • Interspersing check yourself activities in each lesson, adding feedback for quiz questions, using rubrics to ensure consistency in grading
  • Multimedia elements
    • Video, images, charts, diagrams, lightboard, virtual reality.
  • Various technologies and tools available to Penn State faculty and students
    • Voicethread, Bongo, and 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)

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. Below is an example of a recommendation and how to incorporate it into the lesson.

Incorporating text design strategies by…

  • 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
  • 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 (Completed in Two Semesters)

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.