AOI | Learning Innovations

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Lessons Learned—Tips for Course Development

The end of a semester is often a time of reflection. This week, we are highlighting lessons learned by course developer Christopher Austin. In collaboration with an Instructional Designer, Austin converted his face to face course, Psych 309: Cultural Diversity in Organizations, into an online course for Global Campus. All the tips provided can be applied to any course type—face-to-face, online, hybrid, videoconference—and don’t require much time to implement.


  • Review the course goals and ensure they are measurable.
    • Refer to the course goals frequently when developing content and consider using Backward Design to ensure alignment between course materials, assignments, and assessments.
  • Provide supplementary content that helps expand on and clarify key concepts of a lesson.
    • Depending on the learning objectives, supplementary content can take many forms, ranging from YouTube videos and TED talks, to simulations, readings, or using primary sources.
    • Use tools like VoiceThread or Panopto to create mini-lessons highlighting key concepts or clarifying common areas of confusion.
    • Involve guest experts to engage with your students and discuss how concepts students are learning are applied outside of the classroom.
  • Create a Questions to Instructor forum in the course space to provide a single location for all members of a course to ask questions and review answers provided by the instructor and peers. Bonus: Implementing this type of forum reduces the number of emails instructors receive.
    • Students should still be encouraged to send more personal questions and issues (e.g., grade related questions, requests for extensions, etc.) via email.
  • Communicate clear expectations for all tasks students are expected to complete. Rubrics and examples of what students should be demonstrating are great options.
    • When it comes to engaging in discussion forums, ensure that what students are being asked to focus on aligns with the concepts presented in the lesson. Be sure to use open-ended questions to promote discussion, application of concepts, and critical thinking.
    • Whether in-person or online, have a conversation with students to ensure they understand what they are being asked to do and demonstrate before an assignment is due.

Additional Resources

This series of videos and teaching tips is presented by Academic Outreach and Innovation (AOI). We invite you to join the conversation. Share your tips and ask questions through this blog. If you would like these posts to be sent directly to your email each week, subscribe to the listserv by emailing

For more information or to schedule time with an instructional designer or emerging technologist, contact or request training on demand. You can also visit the Spark Faculty Innovation Studio in room 102 any time from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday, during the academic year.