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Design is a crucial stage in the development of online courses. It is also one of the most difficult for many people, as they are anxious to just “get on with it” and start seeing results. Although it is impossible to plan out every last detail of the finished product, at the beginning of the development process, it is absolutely necessary to know in advance what the course goals and learning outcomes are. Without having these to guide you, you will waste a lot of effort creating material that is not focussed properly and may not even be used in the course. In addition, since you are one of a project team, the efforts of team members working on this unrelated material will also be wasted if what they produce needs to be jettisoned later.

It can be helpful to think of course design as encompassing three areas:

Content–how you will create and communicate course content to the students in order to achieve the learning outcomes and/or competencies

Activities–how you will engage the students in their learning of the course content in order to achieve the learning outcomes and/or competencies

Assessments–how you will assess your students to see if they have met the learning outcomes and/or competencies


The output of this phase of online course development is a project blueprint.

Course/Program Philosophy

Learning Outcomes


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