Brown faculty interested in developing an online course are provided with support from the School of Professional Studies (SPS) Online Learning and Innovation Team, which is responsible for the design, development, delivery, and facilitation of online and blended courses within three primary program areas Executive and Professional, Undergraduate, and Pre-College.

The team partners with faculty throughout the SPS online course lifecycle to create engaging and effective student learning experiences. The team also collaborates with colleagues across Brown’s campus and at other peer institutions to advance online teaching and learning initiatives.

Designing an Online 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 meaningful and effective student learning experiences in the most efficient (and enjoyable!) way possible, we invite Brown faculty to partner with an experienced SPS instructional designer (ID).

Instructional designers work in close partnership with faculty to understand the essence and aims of the course in order to develop clear course learning objectives: What should students be able to do as a result of their learning experience? How will the experience benefit students?

Next, instructional designers work with faculty to design student-centered assignments, projects, discussions, and other activities that support these objectives using online design and pedagogical practices proven effective for student learning, while encouraging faculty to consider how each activity enables them to measure and assess student learning. This sample Course Development Worksheet has helped many Brown faculty to organize these items and think holistically about their course design before they begin to “build” their course online.

At the close of the course planning and design process, most faculty have the following items completed:

1. a short list of clearly defined learning objectives
2. a course outline or syllabus, including
3. the majority of course content and media assets (text, readings, images, videos, interactive elements) identified.

As the course design process concludes, the next stage is to build your course...

Building an Online Course

At the build stage of the course development process, faculty work with their instructional designer to set up, place, and format course content, including assignments, discussions, media, etc., in the appropriate online learning platform.

Canvas is Brown University’s primary online Learning Management System, or LMS. Canvas allows faculty to build, teach and manage their courses online. It provides a collection of built-in tools that faculty can use their online courses, enabling them to upload content, communicate with students, create individual and group assignments, create assessments, and track student performance/grades. Brown University offers additional learning platform options such as Coursera and edX. Request a consult if you wish to learn more about any of these exciting teaching opportunities.

At the close of the course build process, most faculty have the following items completed:

1. A completed online course, ready for final quality/usability testing
2. An updated course syllabus based on completed course

After your course concludes, you may partner with your ID and relevant members of the SPS Program Team to evaluate and refine your course for subsequent terms.

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