Fostering User-Driven Processes to Support Online Course Development Teams

Concurrent Session 6

Brief Abstract

Creating a course development process that is efficient and values all stakeholders is challenging. Learn how UA Online built a scalable process with people at the center.  



Janet Smith serves as an Instructional Designer leading quality assurance initiatives at the University of Arizona with the Office of Digital Learning. She manages a multitiered and collaborative quality assurance process to ensure that courses developed for UA Online are designed for student success and engagement. Janet works with partners across campus to integrate best practices around course design, copyright, UDL, and accessibility into the instructional design process and leads the Quality Matters program for the university. She received her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Arizona, her master's degree in Educational Leadership in Higher Education from Northern Arizona University, and a graduate certificate in Educational Technology from Northern Arizona University. In her free time, Janet enjoys spending time with her family and friends, cooking, and practicing and teaching yoga.
Asst. Director for instructional design in support of the University of Arizona's fully online campus. Oversees the general education academy and UA Online's instructional design team. Currently pursuing an Ed.D. in Leadership and Innovation. Areas of research interest include instructor presence and its impact of a sense of community and student success in online learning.

Extended Abstract

Developing an effective and efficient course development process requires leveraging tools and techniques that focus on the people involved and the vision for the student experience in the digital learning environment. Of equal importance, it needs to be scalable, sustainable, and agile.  This session presents a course development process that satisfies all of those requirements while cultivating a culture of innovation.

As a department in its infancy tasked with supporting a new fully-online campus, there was a need to quickly create an agile and effective course development process  that encompassed all members of the team (instructional designers, graphic designers, videographers, quality assurance coordinators, etc.). How would we collaborate to create the vision of a student-centered experience within a faculty-driven design process? Was this vision scalable? How would our team create benchmarks for both quality and uniqueness,  and do so in a way that would give faculty agency and autonomy over the  design process? Better still, would we provide expertise in a supportive environment that empowered faculty? Our team began envisioning a process that was agile, user-centered, and that leveraged open-source and low-cost tools that could be scaled quickly and easily..


This interactive session will offer insight into how valuing people first can drive process and workflow while maintaining a high level of productivity and minimal redundancy.  The presenters will share the process designed and implemented by the Office of Digital Learning at The University of Arizona as a means of giving structure and organization to their user-focused design process.  The session will highlight such strategies as:

  • Collaborative brainstorming and documenting individual narratives on process

  • Curating inventories of individual strengths, aspects of university culture and emerging technology and approaches

  • Documenting the successes and failures, effective practices and pain points as a means of iterating on process

In addition to sharing practice, the presenters will highlight the tools (Basecamp, Google Drive, Zoho Database) that they employed to create a series of systems that both documented and supported the user process.This session will benefit anyone who collaborates on a team that builds and supports online course development, particularly those seeking ways to create a process that is sustainable and scalable regardless of funding.  Participants will engage in a rich discussion on how the tools, practices, and implementation strategies shared in the session might be incorporated into their own work, leaving with rich resources for innovating their own course development process in their unique contexts and environments.