School of Professional Studies

The Course Development Process

1. Propose a Course »

The process begins with your idea for an online course.  Click above for instructions on how to submit your course proposal.

2. The Faculty Development Process

Once a course has been approved, our team supports you with curriculum designed to prepare you for online course design, building your course in the Canvas learning management system, and course facilitation.

3. Course Development

Planning and designing an online course takes considerable time and thought, whether it begins as a face-to-face class or it is constructed from scratch. To create the most engaging and effective courses in the most efficient (and even enjoyable!) way possible, Brown faculty partner with one of the University's instructional designers.

To begin the course development process, instructional designers consult with faculty to understand the essence and aims of the course in order to develop clear course learning objectives. As course development progresses, faculty and IDs design all assignments, discussions, and activities to support those objectives, using student-centered pedagogical practices and design principles proven most effective for online learning.

4. Course Launch

When you have completed the course development process, your instructional designer will support you in preparing your course for launch.  Click to download and review the Pre-Launch Instructor Checklist.

5. Teaching Online: Instructor Responsibilities

In the online environment, it is critical that students perceive the active participation of instructors.  This “instructor presence” is key to encouraging student engagement with course materials, but regular interaction with students requires considerable time management on the part of the instructor.

When the class has started, reach out as soon as possible to establish communication channels. If the student has posted a bio to the site, comment on their interests. It is important to make contact with students as early as possible and throughout the course to give the perception of teacher presence.

Check in on forums and comment daily. If students can tell you’re putting time and energy into forums, they will follow suit.

To encourage deeper discussion, include a question for the student to research and answer when commenting on posts. Asking students to answer each other’s questions can be highly effective.

If an activity is crucial to learning outcomes and is required, it should be incorporated as part of the students’ grade or completion criteria.

Faculty may communicate with students in the Canvas learning management system via email, chat messages, synchronous conferences, or by keeping virtual office hours. 

6. Assessing Student Work Online

We are not big fans of the automated quiz for assessing student comprehension.  We want tangible evidence of understanding!

To achieve this, we expect that you will work with your instructional designer to provide the student access to relevant content (even if it requires online research outside of Canvas) and challenge the student to use the information he or she discovers to generate evidence of that understanding.

For example: well-designed online courses ask students to produce a variety of “learning artifacts” including projects, papers, discussions, photographs, diagrams, illustrations, videos, recorded interviews, and collaborative projects, whether produced independently or in collaboration with other students or subject-matter experts in the field of study. A wealth of artifacts allows you to assess the student’s ability to synthesize course content in great depth, and with confidence and legitimacy.