School of Professional Studies

Working with the SPS Online Team

The Online Team at Brown's School of Professional Studies (SPS) is responsible for the design, development, delivery, and facilitation of online and blended courses within three program areas at SPS: Executive and Professional, Undergraduate, and Pre-College.  We believe that effective learning depends on high-quality instructional design – no matter whether in a traditional face-to-face classroom or in an online environment.

For more detail and to access helpful course development resources and tools, view the steps below.

Designing and Teaching with the School of Professional Studies Online Team

The Course Development Process

1. Meet with SPS/submit a course proposal

Have a great idea for an online course? If you aren't ready to submit a formal online course proposal, we are happy to meet with you to discuss your idea, and help you think through how best to take advantage of all that online education offers to meet your course objectives.

submit your course proposal

2. Participate in FLO (Facilitating Learning Online)

FLO (Facilitating Learning Online) is a four-week online course in which Brown faculty, instructors, and TAs learn first-hand what it's like to be an online learner from the student perspective. FLO participants learn as a cohort, exploring and discussing online pedagogical best practices through researched-based content, thought-provoking assignments, and facilitator-led discussions that demonstrate how effective online learning can be — when properly designed and facilitated.

FLO graduates consistently design and lead their courses with greater efficiency, fewer frustrations, more enjoyment, and with a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges of teaching and learning online.

enroll in FLO now

3. Partner with an SPS "ID" to design & develop your course

Planning and designing an online course takes considerable time and thought, whether the course begins as a face-to-face class or 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 an SPS instructional designer (ID).

Instructional designers work with faculty to understand the essence and aims of the course in order to develop clear course learning objectives and to design assignments, discussions, and activities that support those objectives using engaging, student-centered, pedagogical practices and design principles proven effective for online learning.

For assistance developing course learning objectives, you may wish to use a Course Development Worksheet.

Once the course is completely developed, your instructional designer will help you to ensure that your course is ready for launch using the Pre-Launch Instructor Checklist and SPS Online Tutorials.

Keep in mind, steps 1-3 are only required for the first run of the course. After the course is built, it's all about the teaching.

Teach Your Course

Congratulations! You've successfully designed and constructed your online course! Now comes the best part: working with your students.

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.

Think back to your experience in the FLO course (Facilitating Learning Online). How will you adjust your teaching practice to ensure that your students have a phenomenal learning experience?

What does great online course facilitation look like? Your instructional designer will introduce you to our guidelines for success outlined in our Online Instructor Teaching Agreement. The intent of this document is to make clear your responsibilities to ensure an excellent learning experience for our students.

Evaluate & Revise Your Course

After the course concludes, we evaluate the success of each course through student course evaluations, faculty surveys, and individual meetings with each online instructor. We ask ourselves what went well, what could be improved, and about new ideas for the next run of the course. Based on this input and data, the instructional design team continues to work closely with faculty to make adjustments to the course. We are committed to ensuring our courses stay relevant, and to providing the highest quality learning experience for all of our students.