Making the Shift from Classroom to Online Course Design


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As the demand for high-quality online courses and programs rapidly increases, instructional designers and course developers are faced with a new set of challenges. Special considerations are required to ensure the development of effective courses and a high level of engagement for a variety of learners.

Join us for a unique experience to examine steps to design effective online courses. In four sessions, we will cover re-mapping your course, organizing content, using Web 2.0 technology, and integrating learning design. We will also walk you through a step-by-step process to transform a face-to-face course to an online delivery format. Between sessions, you will have the chance to practice this process using one of your own courses.

Who Should Attend

Instructional designers, course developers, instructional technologists, and faculty charged with the design of online courses will benefit from this course.

What You Will Learn

You will learn how to:

  • Use instructional redesign strategies for online courses
  • Organize content into instructional modules
  • Align course objectives, activities, and assessments
  • Intentionally develop instructional activities that are interactive and engaging
  • Select appropriate technology to support instructional objectives


Session 1: (Re)Mapping Course Design

After participating in this session, you will be able to redesign a chunk of an existing face-to-face course into an online course.

  • Principles of successful course redesign
  • Course review rubrics
  • Mapping your course
    • Selecting from four basic redesign steps
    • Identifying objectives
    • Supporting objectives with technology, assessment, and active learning
    • Sequencing and aligning course activities, assignments, and assessments
  • Designing a module step-by-step
  • Using an alignment strategy to convert into an online course


  • Identify course to be redesigned; be sure to utilize a syllabus and any other course materials.
  • Complete Part I of the “Mapping Your Course” handout, and begin Part II as time permits. Post to course site. (We’ll keep working on Part II in Session 2.)
  • Read and review the “Quality Matters” or other provided rubric standards, and consider how your course can be redesigned to address each of these elements.
  • Take the “Faculty Self-Assessment: Preparing for Online Teaching” survey.


Session 2: Course Organization

After participating in this session, you will be able to devise a strategy to divide courses into manageable modules.

  • Persistent challenges of course organization
  • Chunking course content: activities, assignments, and assessments
    • Utilizing course content
    • Linear model vs. non-linear model
    • Benchmarking progress
  • Storyboarding
  • Building in learner supports


  • Using the module you identified and began redesigning with the “Mapping Your Course” handout, continue to work on and finish Part II.
  • Also consider alignment and the assessment components of Part III in the “Mapping Your Course” handout.
  • Post the completed handout to course page.
  • Explore e-learning tools and ask:
    • What tools are a good fit for you?
    • What instructional application is missing?


Session 3: Web 2.0 Technology Design

After participating in this session, you will be able to identify some strategies for selecting and integrating learning technologies into the online course.

  • Determining technology’s instructional functions
    • Introduce and present material
    • Support learners’ interaction
    • Assist learners in constructing knowledge
    • Allow learners to practice
    • Providing feedback and assessing learners’ achievements
  • Using rubrics and guides to align technology with course goals


  • Given your module, review your design and select at least five tools that could be used in a lesson, activity, assignment, or assessment.
  • Using your completed Session 3 mapping assignment, revise and enter your tools.
  • Post the completed handout to course site.


Session 4: Interactive Learning Design

After participating in this session, you will be able to design interactive elements that support student learning.

  • Identifying benefits and limitations of interaction
  • Selecting types of interactivity
    • Instructor-to-student interaction
    • Student-to-student interaction
    • Student-to-content interaction
    • Student-to-resources interaction
  • Facilitating interaction


  • Review your module completed thus far and review for types of interaction.
    • Are any types of interaction types missing?
    • Is there a variety?
    • Is interaction meaningful and relevant?
    • What else may be included?
  • Revise or add interactions as appropriate.
  • Post completed handout to course site.
  • Do one of the following:
    • Review a course member’s module.
    • Select one course from those provided.



Patricia McGee, Associate Professor of Instructional Technology, The University of Texas at San Antonio
As associate professor of instructional technology in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at San Antonio, Patricia has designed and taught more than 20 online and blended courses. She is the recipient of a US Distance Learning Association (USDLA) Gold Award for Online Technology. She has been awarded research fellowships with the National Learning Infrastructure Initiative (EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative), American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE)/Navy, and the ASEE/Air Force. Her professional work and consulting includes K-20 education, military, nonprofit, for-profit, and public sector projects. At the University of Texas at San Antonio, she is involved in both blended and online learning initiatives, serving on advisory and planning committees and conducting research. A prolific author, Patricia publishes in the areas of online and blended pedagogy, faculty technology use, and emerging learning systems and tools.


Looking for additional resources?

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