Online and hybrid courses require more advanced planning than traditional face-to-face courses because many of the course components are time consuming to build and need to be developed before the course begins.

When To Begin

Different institutions have different processes or requirements that are specific to their unique needs and institutional culture, so it is important to address that online and hybrid courses here at La Salle are designed to meet the needs of our community. On average, the development of online and hybrid courses should begin at least 12 weeks before the course begins, but earlier is better especially if the instructor is new to the course content, technology tools, or teaching online in general.

Time Management and Flexibility

One of the primary things that must differentiate online learning from traditional teaching is flexibility. Students should have more flexibility to choose when to access instructional resources, what resources they use, and when they complete activities that will demonstrate what they know and what they don’t. As a result, many aspects of the instruction must be planned in advance, following a proven instructional design process that anticipates what the students will need and builds the course to meet those needs. This information can come from the instructor’s prior experiences and subject matter knowledge as well as from insight from the program director and other instructors in the program.

Developing Resources

Building effective online learning materials takes time, especially if the instructor is new to tools and skills like video recording, synchronous web conferences, screen recording or narrating, curating effective educational resources to meet course outcomes, moderating discussion boards, and facilitating group work. It is best to build these resources before the course begins, so that there is time to answer students’ questions and give feedback on students’ work during the class. In online classes, student work is collected more frequently and turned around quickly, so students can monitor their learning and performance.
The facilitator of the course needs to check into the class frequently to monitor student participation and promote engagement.

Planning Documents

Building in advance doesn’t mean that an online course cannot be changed once the course is underway. Instructors can still make changes or add additional resources to meet emerging student needs. Teaching online is a highly iterative process: it is most engaging for instructors when they can try different things and learn from what does and does not work.

Here are some planning documents to help manage the time needed to design an online course.