Online Program and Course Design for Student Success

Concurrent Session 5

Brief Abstract

How can the curriculum and student learning experience for fully online academic programs be intentionally designed to facilitate success for the specific student audience? This session will discuss one university’s holistic approach to program planning and how that information carries through to course design with a focus on student success.


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

Session Goals: Attendees will be able to

  • discuss program level instructional design strategies intended to facilitate student success for nontraditional students.
  • describe how program level design considerations inform course design.

Session Overview:

Participants will learn how one university’s online learning unit works with academic departments in a holistic approach to design fully online programs focused on student success. A leader from the online learning unit will share details about how the program development process is completed in a way that informs course design. First, the online program undergoes a thorough concept and feasibility analysis. Once that is complete, academic department leaders collaborate with experts from the online learning unit to complete the Online Program Design Process. This process provides a solid foundation for the online program and course design and development based on research and best practices in the discipline and in online education. It allows all stakeholders to work collaboratively to design the curriculum for the program to meet the needs of a specific online student audience, maximizing the online learning environment. The Online Program Design Process focuses on defining and documenting four main aspects of the program curriculum (program context, curriculum alignment, specifications and templates, and planning for launch).

These various aspects of program design have a focus on student success. It ensures a cohesive online learning experience for the students, as opposed to a collection of courses. It establishes strong ties between courses within the program, and sets the precedent for a level of consistency across all courses.

The outputs of the online program design process are the input for the individual course design. Standard features used across a program guides faculty and instructional designers in the development of the individual courses that make up a program. One of the team’s instructional designers will share how program specifications inform the course design while allowing flexibility and the unique instructional style of faculty developers. The result is a program providing consistent experiences while preserving academic freedom and highlighting the style and subject expertise of program faculty.

Session interactivity:

  • Time will be included for questions during the presentation.