Using a Team Approach to Increase Quality in Online Course Development

Concurrent Session 8

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

This session will address a team approach used to develop courses for online programs. Each team member brings their own expertise to the group. Discussion will focus on the makeup of the team, benefits and challenges of a team approach, and the metrics used to manage a course development project.



Dr. Lisa Berry manages the team of instructional designers that assist faculty with the design and development of fully online courses. She also leads academic departments through a program-level curriculum and instructional design process for fully online programs. Prior to her work at Boise State University, she was a curriculum manager at a K-12 state virtual school.

Extended Abstract

This unique model for master course development uses a team that includes a faculty expert, an instructional designer, a quality assurance coordinator, a multimedia developer, an online course content specialist, and a course builder.  Each member of the group brings their experience and knowledge to assist in designing and developing a high-quality master course:

  • Faculty Expert: The faculty expert provides content knowledge and expertise in teaching that content.  They oversee the integrity and academic rigor of the course.

  • Instructional Designer:  This person provides expertise in online learning, advocates for the student perspective, and serves as the project manager for the course development project.  Ensures that university and federal policies related to clock hours, academic integrity, and regular and substantive interaction are met through the course development.

  • Quality Assurance Coordinator:  Conducts quality checks of the course, keeping the students in mind.  Suggests further clarification of instructions, or ways to decrease unnecessary redundancies in the course content.

  • Multimedia Developer:  Provides guidance on best practices in the use of media in courses, records and edits video and graphics that are included in the course.

  • Online Course Content Specialist:  Completes vetting of external course content to ensure that the course meets policies related to copyright and accessibility.

  • Course Builder:  An expert in the Learning Management System (LMS) functionality that builds the course after all content is agreed upon.

The iterative 12-week development process begins with a 3-week course conceptualization, where the faculty and instructional designer create a course design map and identify objectives, assessments, and course materials. Beginning during week 4, the faculty and instructional designer work on the details of the course content.  As the content is delivered by the faculty, the instructional design reviews the content and puts it in a format to hand off to the quality assurance team. The online course content specialist and multimedia developer are included in the process when their expertise is needed. The quality assurance reviews the content shared by the instructional designer, and the iterative process of looping back to the faculty and instructional designer begins.  Once all details are resolved, the content is handed off to the course builder to be put into the LMS (Blackboard). As the course is built, the faculty expert and instructional designer have the opportunity to review the course in Blackboard to verify that it meets their expectations. Additional refinement happens at this time. Once the entire course is built in Blackboard, the quality assurance coordinator reviews the entire course again, checking for consistency and accuracy.

A unique process is used to track progress through the development. On a weekly basis, each team member reports a “percent done” for the project.  While these are estimates, it helps the team track overall progress and identify delays in any given area. It also gives managers of these teams a general overview of project status and where there may be delays that need to be addressed. Team members also track the number of hours they spend working on projects on a weekly basis so that comparisons of percent done and time worked can be compared to track project momentum.