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Get it Done! Seven Tips for Quick, Quality Course Design

Designing a course for the online world can feel downright daunting. And sometimes daunting tasks can get, well, postponed. Adopt these tips for quick, quality course design to get that ball rolling. Tackle one tip a day and you’ll be closer to having a finished course, and soon!

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Image by U.S. Navy Imagery on Flickr Creative Commons

1. Reflect for Relevance. You probably have course material in some form already. Ask yourself: What works? What could use some tweaking? And wouldn’t it be great if I could do/say/show…?

2. Learn what’s Possible. Your ASU Online Instructional Designer can describe many best practices and tools for teaching online. Videos, multimedia, and collaborative options are ready for you to explore.  Quality Matters, the design standard used at ASU Online, provides thought-provoking guidelines. Tell your Designer about your ideas to begin learning what’s possible.

3. Map your Modules. Organize course material into a 7.5-week structure (Fall/Spring terms) or 6-week structure (Summer terms). Most course content has natural topical breaks. Play with how you can logically distribute topics along the term’s weekly structure. (Try using the Course Planning Map at the bottom of this article).

4. Tackle your Course Schedule. Many instructors plan one module per week. What do students do first, next, and last in each module? Where’s that weird half-week fall? (Hint: try it as the course intro or wrap up). This is a great time to open up the Course Schedule page in your LearningStudio class to plug in weeks, topics, assignments, and point values.

5. Get Down to Details. Use the Course Schedule as your map to springboard into each week’s content.  Be strategic. Design similar elements–like the entire course’s week or module home pages–in one sweep. Or focus on one week/module at a time by setting up only that week’s reading assignments, lecture, discussions, and assessments in one go.

6. Befriend your Designer. Your designer is your best friend for this project. Call, email, and meet for working sessions throughout the process. They’re techie educator-type nerds who like designing instructionally sound, effective courses, and they can guide you along your journey.

7. Get Visual. Spice up your class with relevant graphics and videos. No graphics skills? Talk to that nerdy designer friend of yours about making your course look more visually engaging.

It’s time to forge ahead. True, there’s no single approach that’s right for everybody.  Give these tips a try and see where they lead.  They may very well guide you to a finished course.

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