The Process of Designing and Delivering a Common Online Course Template

Concurrent Session 3

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

In this session, we will share a process of designing and delivering an online course template that is currently used for the online bachelor degree of General Studies at University of Kansas. Moreover, we will display the layout of the template to our audiences.   


E-Lu Chen received her Educational Specialist degree in the field of Instructional Design and Technology. Applying her professional knowledge and skills in distance learning education, she has designed, developed, and delivered online/ hybrid/face to face courses and workshops in various environments and platforms for over 10 years. She is responsible for successfully introducing and incorporating academic pedagogical principles and learning-enhanced technologies into course design initiatives within online, hybrid, and web-enhanced courses across the University. Providing hands-on instructional design and course creation support to KU faculty and work as part of a creative and dynamic team in delivering workshops, seminars, and creating materials that promote online and hybrid learning.

Additional Authors

Extended Abstract

In 2015, College of Liberal Arts and Science (CLAS) at University of Kanas worked collaboratively with the Center for Online and Distance Learning (CODL) to introduce a common course template that is developed for the online bachelor degree of General Studies (BGS). The process of designing the template was carried out by a fellow instructional designer from CODL, who was certified as Quality Matters Rubric master course reviewer and a faculty member from the University’s library. We will use ADDIE instructional design practice to frame this online course template process.


There are two main issues that will be addressed. First of all, we are aware off that it is important to reinforce the consistency of the course navigation menu. Based on two main theoretical perspectives in Cognitive information processing theory and Cognitive load theory, the online course navigation should not become part of content learning that students are forced to learn each time when they are taking online courses from different faculty and instructors. Second, one of the main concern is the time. Due to the short project time frame, creating the course template from the scratch would not be a feasible option. Therefore, during the design process, this designer researched and examined various online course designs from different institutions where offer online courses and online course samples; for examples, the institutions like Arizona State University and the University of Missouri.

Design and Development

After studying several online course designs from other institutions, CODL came up with the following course navigation layout. 

Instructor Notes: Hidden from student view. It is designed to store notes, memos, and resources that will be beneficial to the instructor who teaches the course.  

Course Homepage: A course landing page when students sign into the course every time. It can be assembled with various information modules like announcements, assignment due dates and so on.   

Getting Started: Students will start the course from here. It includes information about the instructor’s welcome message, technology requirements, academic services and resources, students’ self-introduction activity.

Syllabus: It holds course syllabus document and course assignment schedule overview/

Instructor Information: The instructor provides contact information and may also include personal website link and teaching philosophy 

Lessons: Students will access all the instructional materials and course assessments in a  

Exams/Papers: This is a placeholder that may contain high stakes assessment items.

Q&A: A common ground for the instructor and learners to interact with each other.

My Grades: Grade book that allows learners to track their own learning progress with grades, feedback, and grading rubrics.  

Send Email: It provides an email list that includes all users enrolled in the class.

Students: BbHelp links to the university’s IT page.

Research Help links to the university’s library page.

Implement and Evaluation

There is two stage of the course template evaluation process. One is done by fellow instructional designers using the Quality Matters Rubric, fifth edition. Another one is that two evaluation questions on the end -of- semester course evaluation that are used to collect students’ feedback as summative evaluation for the usage of the template. These mechanical questions are designed to look at the potential problems focused on the usability and navigation of the design and layout.  


Overall, it is our hope to making sure that by adopting the course template will not only provide great information and practices to faculty and instructors in the virtual learning environment but also promote a quality learning experience for each learner.