Centre for Extended Learning (CEL)
East Campus 3 (EC3)
195 Columbia St. W.
Online course creation is a demanding task, and designing and developing an online course at Waterloo typically takes up to 10 months. It is a rigorous process requiring a considerable time commitment from you and from Centre for Extended Learning (CEL) staff. You should be prepared to devote at least one day per week over two terms.
The following illustrates the major components of the process and the timeframe.
Step 1: Submit a request for course development
To submit an online course proposal, please use the course development request form.
As part of this submission, you will be asked to:
- read and agree to follow the Quality Guidelines for Waterloo Online Courses
- secure approval from your dean or department chair
- provide a valid course code (e.g., CHEM 123) for your online course from the undergraduate or graduate calendar
- identify precisely when you will be available to work on course development
- register for CEL's four-day xCELr8 Online Course Design Kickstart Program
Step 2: Receive confirmation from CEL
CEL will evaluate your submission and contact you to discuss the scope of your project, your availability, and the desired first term of offer. We will determine a mutually agreeable course development timeframe, and confirm that course authors are able to attend an upcoming offer of xCELr8.
Step 3: Plan and design
Whether you are moving an on-campus course online or developing a brand new course, your Online Learning Consultant (OLC) will work with you early in the process to achieve two major milestones.
Milestone #1 - A detailed course blueprint
- student-centred learning outcomes
- an assessment strategy aligned with your outcomes
- a detailed unit-by-unit plan
- an online course syllabus
selecting appropriate technology to match course goals
identifying sources of open content or methods for the creation your own course materials.
Key to success:
Student-centred learning outcomes focus on the learner and how they will benefit from the course. For more information read the Centre for Teaching Excellence’s Writing Intended Learning Outcomes tip sheet.
Milestone #2 - A project plan
This is a work plan to complete the online course before the first term of offer. The work plan will include dates and deliverables.
Step 4: First unit prototype
During this stage, you will write and fully develop the entire first unit. You’ll be working with an Online Learning Consultant (OLC) to apply User Experience Design for Learning (UXDL) principles to the material you're developing. This stage could involve:
- writing course notes
developing quiz questions for one or for multiple quizzes
recording the audio for a series of podcasts
preparing PowerPoint slides for a digital lecture
writing a storyboard for a case study video
reviewing content from a third party and obtaining permission to use the material
preparing diagrams to illustrate concepts
You will work closely with the CEL team who will help you meet Waterloo's standards for accessibility and copyright. You must properly reference your written work. This includes providing the sources of all third-party material (i.e. images, research articles, animations).
You will be able to view your first unit prototype in LEARN. Be prepared to set aside time for reviewing the first unit—or “prototype” unit—very carefully and to submit final edits to us.
Key to success:
Early in the design and development stage, advise us of any constraints on your time and your preferred communication method.
Step 5: Course development
During this stage, you will create material for all remaining units, following the structure of your prototype.
You will be expected to produce and deliver content at regular, agreed upon, intervals. This delivery schedule allows us to steadily develop your content and post it in LEARN for your review. If, for example, your course is divided into one unit for each week of the term, you will be expected to produce one unit every two weeks.
At the same time, we will help you to steadily develop your course content as outlined in the work plan. You will be asked to review the material carefully and provide final revisions to the CEL team. It is critical that the work plan agreed to is followed in order to have the course ready by the deadline established. The project team will be in regular communication with you. A Project Manager will monitor progress towards the completion of the course project.
Towards the end of this stage, details of your course activities and assignments will be finalized and a Learning Management System/Quality Assurance (LMS/QA) Specialist will set up all relevant LEARN tools (e.g. discussions, dropboxes, quizzes) in your course.
Key to success:
Designing a high-quality online course takes time. Set aside approximately 7-10 hours per week during this period. Stay on task and keep up with the project timelines.
Step 6: Get ready for term
In the final stages of the project, you can expect a final quality check of the entire course. Details regarding the final examination and technical training needs will be discussed (ie grading online, use of external tools).
Step 7: Sign off on the course
You and the CEL course development team will meet and sign-off on the course at the end of the project. From now on support for your course will be provided by one of CEL's Online Technology Consultants (OTCs).
Step 8: Course offer
Now you are ready to teach the course. Your OLC will continue to provide you with teaching support; your LEARN or Möbius support team will provide support for LEARN.
Early in the term our Examination Specialist will contact you with information about how we work with you to facilitate your course exam. As your students could be anywhere in the world, coordination is a bit more complicated than for on-campus courses. Exams for online courses are normally held early in the exam period and are posted a year in advance on the Registrar's Important Dates page
Step 9: Post course offer debrief
- What kind of student feedback did you receive?
- What challenges did students have?
- What was the most enjoyable part of teaching this course and why? What was the least enjoyable and why?
- Were there any workload or training issues we need to address?
- Do you have any concerns around academic integrity for your course?
- Will you continue to teach this course? If not, should written instructions be provided for upcoming instructors?
- What would you like to change and why?
Key to success:
Share your experience with your fellow online instructors at an Instructor Community of Practice (CoP) Luncheon.
Step 10: Course maintenance and re-offers
Minor revisions can be made to your course after your debrief. Once these revisions are made, the course will go into maintenance mode. CEL will communicate with you before the start of upcoming terms of offer of the course and our LMS/QA staff will work with you to prepare the course at that time.