Course Development Guide


Welcome to the course development process! This guide is intended to provide you with basic information about the process of developing a fully online course with the support of an instructional designer (ID). Please take the time to read this document carefully.


Teaching Online for the First Time

If you are teaching online for the first time and would like to learn more about it, please take advantage of our professional development opportunities (see below). We have short training sessions on how to use the LMS, how to use online tools in teaching, and on course development best practices. We also offer longer online courses that will introduce you to the fundamentals of online learning. You may also want to keep a book on hand for personal reference – we recommend The Complete Guide to Designing & Teaching Online Courses, available in paperback and ebook formats.

Check out these links:


Course Map

As part of the design process, you will be collaborating with your ID to complete a course map. The course map usually takes the form of a table, listing each week’s objectives, materials, and activities, as in the sample attached at the end of this Guide.

The course map is a document that will help you to keep track of your content (including weekly lectures, assigned reading and viewing), and see quickly whether they support your activities and assessments. The course map is completed first, in the development process, and will become an outline for course development.

Please feel free to reach out to your instructional designer for help with any of the stages of completing the course map. Best practices for online courses suggest that every week should include instructional materials such as recorded lectures and portions of the textbook, as well as at least one low-stakes learning activity that reinforces the content and allows students to practice the associated skills you want them to master. Higher-stakes assessments (assignments and exams worth 15% or more of the course grade) should be assigned in stages throughout the semester. Your ID can help you brainstorm how to distribute your assignments to the best effect.

Remember to plan for activities that include learner to learner interaction, which will not happen automatically, the way it can in a face-to-face course. The easiest and most established format for this is the threaded discussion. You might also consider group-work or peer reviews.



If you are using a standard e-textbook or course content package from a publisher, you will be able to activate it in the course yourself. This will produce a link to the e-text in the course navigation. If you wish to integrate specific parts of an e-text or publisher package directly into your course shell, discuss the customization with your publisher representative and your instructional designer as soon as possible; custom integrations can take 6-8 weeks.


Roles and Responsibilities

As faculty, you are responsible for providing all the course content according to the schedule outlined in this document. Course content may include lectures, but it also includes other details such as course policies, discussion prompts, and instructions for activities and assignments. Please do not be late in meeting your deadlines, as this will slow down the course development process.

Your instructional designer is here to support the development of your course. Feel free to reach out at any time with questions or requests. Your ID is responsible for tasks such as:

  • consulting and brainstorming with you on how to best present your materials
  • collaborating with you to build the course site, including formatting and uploading materials
  • advising on production of multimedia materials
  • teaching you the use of the Learning Management System when necessary
  • LMS orientation session for TAs at COHLIT computer lab (suggested date: 1 week before course opens)

Note: To maintain version control during the development process, we request that faculty not edit the course shell without contacting and coordinating with the instructional designer. After the Quality Assurance review is completed, you can freely edit the course and receive additional training to help you do so, if you wish.


Course Development Timeline

Time Commitment and Deadlines

The online-course development process is challenging and rewarding, but it is also time-consuming for you as the teacher.  Many things that can be done spontaneously, face-to-face, must be planned and organized ahead of time, online. To have your complete course ready to launch on time we will all need to meet deadlines for deliverables. We suggest that you set aside about 5 hours per week to prepare your content and materials, throughout this process. Faculty engaging in the process for the first time are often surprised by that requirement, but experience tells us that this is the best way to make the class as good as can be for both you and your students.

It may seem surprising that you need to complete steps as early as 20 weeks in advance of launch but remember that we need to have time to coordinate, brainstorm, build materials online, and be sure that they work. Your course will run much more smoothly, and students will be much happier, if we make steady progress and can test everything in a timely manner.

Stages and Corresponding Dates

Here is a summary of the course development stages with date estimates attached. More details appear further in this document. Reach out to your ID if you require clarification about terminology or dates.

  • Kickoff (Week 1)
  • Early Planning (Week 2-3)
  • Detailed Planning, by Unit, and Course Build-out (Week 4-18)
  • Quality Assurance Check (Week 19)
  • Faculty hand-off and training (Week 20)
  • Live Course Shell (Week 20)
  • Course launch (site opens automatically at 12:00am on the first day of term)

Detailed Course Development Stages

What follows is a rough outline of what you will need to complete in a given course development stage. These items will be discussed in detail as we move through the process. This is just a starting point.

1. Kick-off Stage – (Week 1)

  • Review of any existing instructional materials
  • Complete course intake sheet (expected enrollment, course profile, LMS, etc.)

ID deliverables: intake and kickoff paperwork

Faculty deliverables: completed course intake sheet

2. Early Planning Stage - (Week 2-3)

Course map, including:

  • Course Learning Objectives (CLOs)
  • Module (Weekly) Learning Objectives (MLOs)
  • Complete list of weekly materials, activities, and assessments
  • Weekly student hours, i.e. how long will it take your students to complete readings, viewings, activities and assignments each week? Target range is 7-9 hours per week.

Outline of dates for weekly activities and assessments.

Grade breakdown of points and/or weights by assignment.

ID deliverables: course map template to be filled in, course document templates if needed, brainstorming and advice

Faculty deliverables: completed course map, course schedule, grade breakdown, create template course shell

3. Detailed Planning, by Unit, and Course Build-out (Week 4-18)

During this stage, you will produce course content with your ID’s advice and assistance, and you and the ID in cooperation will build that content in the course shell. We recommend one week of production time per week of course content.

Dates for the table below should be filled in at the Kick-off meeting.

Course content by week:


Faculty Deliverables with ID advising:

Faculty & ID Cooperative Deliverables:


Week 1 content

Module 1 built


Week 2 content

Module 2 built


Week 3 content

Module 3 built


Week 4 content and syllabus draft

Module 4 built


Week 5 content

Module 5 built


Week 6 content

Module 6 built


Weeks 7

Module 7 built


Week 8 content. Course Essentials items, final course syllabus

Module 8 built. Course Essentials built


Week 9 content

Module 9 built


Week 10 content

Module 10 built


Week 11 content

Module 11 built


Week 12 content

Module 12 built


Week 13 content

Module 13 built


Week 14 content

Module 14 built


Week 15 content

Module 15 built

4. Quality Assurance Stage – (Week 19)

  • complete course due

ID deliverables: completed QA checklist with any revisions still required noted

Faculty deliverables: completed revisions, any captions reviewed for accuracy, class reviewed in Student View.

5. Faculty hand-off and training – (Week 20)

  • Training session for TAs
  • Hand-off document

ID deliverables: in-person or online training in LMS (1 hr), hand-off document

Faculty deliverables: attendance at training session, read hand-off document

6. Live Course Shell Stage – (Week 20)

  • Last-minute revisions, as needed

ID deliverables: fully built and revised course

Faculty deliverables: request live course copied from development shell

7. Course launch (site opens automatically at 12:00am on first day of term)



We will need to meet at times, during the course development process, either in person or online. Meetings are intended to work through details related to particular stages. Faculty will bring any content necessary, and the instructional designer will consult with faculty on how the content should appear in the course site and develop a plan for coordinated build-out.

Below is a list of suggested meetings; dates should be agreed on at the Kick-off meeting. Additional meetings may be added as necessary. Please have all your materials for each meeting prepared in advance.

Suggested Meetings

  • Planning 1: Objectives, Assignments, General Time-line
  • Planning 2: Course Mapping
  • Midway Check-in: Any adjustments
  • Quality Assurance: Plan final revisions based on checklist
  • Faculty Training


Contact Information

You can contact the Office of Instructional Design at any time, if you have questions about course development.

Phone: (848) 932-4700 (ask for one of the Instructional Design team)


Office location:

Center for Online & Hybrid Learning and Instructional Technologies (COHLIT)

Public Safety Building

55 Commercial Ave., Suite 201

New Brunswick, NJ 08901


Sample Course Map, Week 4


Course Learning Objectives

Module Learning Objectives





Write persuasive, evidence-based essays on a variety of topics.

Write an effective thesis statement.

Write an organized and detailed paper outline, including topic sentences and citations of evidence.

Part 2: Chapters 4-7, They Say, I Say, Graff & Berkenstein (your own thesis and arguments)

Sections W-4 and W-7, The Little Seagull Handbook (organization and topic sentences)

Sample Essays 1 and 2

Thesis exercises:

  • Identify thesis statements in Sample Essays 1 and 2, and evaluate them based on what Graff & Berkenstein say make an effective thesis or argument.
  • Write a thesis statement for Part 2 of They Say, I Say in your own words. (peer reviewed)

Outlining exercise:

  • In Groups: Outline an assigned chapter in this unit’s readings, including topic sentences for each major section or idea. Evaluate another group’s outline based on the guidelines for outlining in The Little Seagull Handbook.

Turn in a detailed outline for Paper 2. The outline should start with your thesis statement. Each major section must start with a topic sentence.  Include as many citations of evidence from your sources as you have so far; this will help identify what sections still need more research.