Online Course Development Process at W&M


Under the direction of the Director for Online Programming, APeL guides faculty through the online course development process (OCDP). The OCDP is suitable for faculty in any department and is geared particularly toward those new to online teaching. Changes for Fall 2017 simplify the process, clarify the timeline and expectations, and establish clear milestones.

Two OCDP Formats

Faculty complete the OCDP in one of two formats.  A semester-long format runs the course of a single academic term and faculty commit to dedicating 3 hours per week to designing and developing their online course. In a “boot camp” format, faculty invest a full 5-day week to fully design their course and complete approximately 1/3 course development. They then commit to and schedule five additional days through the next term (typically summer) to recording the video/production elements for their course.

In either format, faculty dedicate ~45 hours to preparing their online course. In order to allocate focused-time to this development process, APeL urges that faculty receive a semester-long course release.

First Level in the Online Course Lifecycle

Fully implementing an online course for the first time is the “First Level” of an Online Course Lifecycle. The first three steps in this lifecycle--Discover, Design, and Develop--compose our Online Course Development Program (OCD). The last two steps are completed when the course is offered.

1) Discover 

Through a hybrid experience that combines face-to-face meetings with online training, faculty discover the foundations of teaching online. Faculty learn about the distinctive W&M Online Experience, characteristics of W&M online students, essential online technology tools used in online classes, principles of effective online teaching, and the practices that ensure high-quality online learning experiences at W&M. By the end of this step, faculty will possess a foundational knowledge of concepts and practices relating to online learning and will present a rough draft of their online course for feedback.

2) Design

Faculty apply their understanding of online learning to the specific design of their course. During this step, faculty map out their course objectives, assessment methods, and learning activities that make for an engaging and highly interactive online course. By the end of this step, faculty will have completed course design plans, a syllabus, and a production schedule for their course.

3) Develop 

With plans for the course completed, faculty transition into the actual development of the online course. At this step, faculty are engaged in creating learning activities, crafting effective online assessments, setting up their courses on the LMS (e.g., Blackboard), and producing the video and multimedia that will be used in their course. New to this step is regular, direct, and personal interaction with an Instructional Designer who assists the faculty with both technical elements as well as consultation on best practices for instruction and assignments. By the end of this step, faculty will have completed all the written and production elements and will have created all the learning materials for their course.

4) Deliver 

Typically, once faculty have completed development, courses require an additional 3-4 weeks for post-production, quality assurance, and sign off before they can be delivered. During this step, faculty teach their online course to students and also require students to complete a course survey to provide feedback specifically on elements related to online design and delivery.

5) Debrief 

The online course development process is not complete when the course has been delivered. The complete lifecycle of an online course also involves debriefing how effective the course was designed and delivered, receiving feedback from students and instructional design staff, and completing a brief self-reflection form. By the end of this step, faculty will complete an action plan for improving the course the next time it is offered.

When faculty have completed these five steps, they have completed the first level of an online course’s lifecycle. 

Second Level in the Online Course Lifecycle

Once faculty have completed the first level in an online course’s lifecycle, they are prepared for a second and advanced level related to their online course. This second level includes: 1) discovering advanced online pedagogical and technological aspects involved in online teaching; 2) designing enhanced online instructional strategies; 3) developing additional or improved online learning materials; 4) delivering the online course again; and 5) debriefing how effective the second offering of the online course has been.