Thematic course design: from ideation to the screen

Concurrent Session 1

Brief Abstract

 A showcase of our online courses designed with inspiring themes. Themed courses are a creative solution for gaining the learner’s attention with interactive media. We will share our creative and collaborative ideation process and inspire you with your own.  Our course development team consists of instructional designers and multimedia specialists.


Kristina Schmid is an Instructional Designer at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She works in the Office of Online Education. She has been immersed in online education since 2001. Kristi graduated in May, 2021 with an Ed.S. degree in Curriculum and Instruction from UNLV. She also earned an M.S.Ed. in Learning Design and Technology from Purdue University in 2014. She also holds a M.Ed. in Math Education from the Ohio State University which she earned in 1998. In her previous role as a math instructor, Kristi taught Algebra and Math for Elementary Teachers courses in both online and hybrid modalities. She believes that her own experience as online student and instructor enrich the student-centered perspective that she aims for in online course design. She is excited to be at UNLV and is eager to contribute to the university’s creative and innovative cultural environment.
Dan Antoniuk is an Instructional Multimedia Developer who has worked for the Office of Online Education at UNLV since October 2009. He came to UNLV from the commercial and home automation industry where he worked as an Art Director and Touch Panel Designer designing interfaces for AMX and Crestron-based systems. His education includes an M.A. in Multimedia (2003) and B.A. in Art with a Multimedia Option (2001), both from California State University - East Bay. Dan, along with his research partner Becky Fong, worked to develop a year-long research-based multimedia project called Project X. Informally known as 'XTV', the project was based on the future of interactive TV. It included On-demand programming, on-screen web-based interactivity, and streaming to portable devices. '2002 was a time when mobility was just emerging, we really didn't have smartphones back then, we could text but that was about it. For our portable devices, we used pocket PCs, which at the time were the only type of portable devices with networking and CPU capabilities able to meet our project's demands. We also had a teleconferencing feature in our application, and overall we were really pushing the envelope back then. We had to do research and experimentation to figure out how to get it all to work. I remember Kevin Towe's book on Flash Communication Server MX came out during the middle of our project and it was a great resource for us. We had to build our own hardware and servers, install our streaming services, and write the application code to get everything to work together. One of our notable achievements is we were one of the first to stream an on-demand 35-minute video to portable devices over IP using Flash Communication Server MX technology. My educational background has provided a great foundation for my professional work where I have the opportunity to create educational multimedia content and applications for students in higher education.

Extended Abstract

According to Gagné’s 9 Events of Instruction, gaining attention is a first, key step toward engaging the learner. This can sometimes be challenging in the online learning environment but with intentional course design we can inspire students to engage with course content in an interactive way. We often design online courses with a thematic approach. These inspiring themes are an innovative way of capturing student attention with lively art and creative ideas. We will showcase courses inspired by themes from the 1960’s, high-end fashion, Route 66, and board games. Audience members will have the opportunity to determine a course theme themselves as they contribute to a mock ideation-session. As a group, we will walk through the process collaboratively and participate together, thinking through possible challenges and solutions that compromise. It is our goal that attendees will walk away convinced of the value theming can have in online courses as well as strategies for successful collaboration that takes a team from ideation to the screen.