Expectations for Collaborative Course Development

The development of an online course in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences is a collaborative effort joining the content expertise of a course author (or several!) with the education, creative, and technical expertise of the Dutton Institute learning design team which includes learning designers, multimedia specialists, programmers, and technical editors. Course authors and learning design team members partner in the creation of the College's online courses, working toward a common goal of engaging students in dynamic online educational experiences. As course authors and learning design team members follow an iterative design process to develop a course, a partnership is built that is based on respect and value for the role each individual plays as they bring their expertise into the design process.

The matrix below outlines key tasks in the development of an online course, indicating the typical roles and responsibilities of the learning design team (with a learning designer serving as the faculty member's primary point of contact) and the course author.

Task Learning Design Team Course Author
Hold an introductory Meeting to establish expectations for the collaboration.

Discuss responsibilities and roles, as well as higher level objectives and goals for the course completion.
Provide information related to technical expertise and resource availability. Voice questions/concerns about developing an online course, the process and time commitment involved, and the resources available to complete the course development.
Consider establishing a shared to-do list to manage completion of items, schedule regular update check-ins (meetings, phone calls, emails, etc.).
Establish a workflow and timeline (using this matrix). Clearly delineate responsibilities, course development deliverables, and timelines to ensure an on-time completion of the course in advance of its first offering.
Review University-approved course proposal.


and implement a strong course blueprint to ensure that the course delivers and assesses the learning objectives described in the course proposal.

Explain how to use the course blueprint to plan course as described in the course proposal.

Provide feedback on first draft of the blueprint.
Complete the course blueprint.


learning objectives for all lessons to provide students with solid, easy to understand learning objectives.

Teach course author how to write objectives (if necessary). Once the objectives are written, review objectives for clarity and make suggestions for improvement (if needed). Write clear learning objectives for each lesson based on the course proposal.
Develop learning assessments. Suggest methods to assess student progress toward learning outcomes that go beyond traditional m/c tests and papers. Engage students in the learning process. Structure assessments to maximize both student experience and grading load. Provide feedback on first drafts of assessments. Prepare draft assessments of course content, based on course and lesson objectives and the course blueprint.  
Select readings and plan exercises/labs that support content to (1) ensure students have access to all course reading assignments and (2) ensure required course reading assignments augment course content and are directly relevant to assessments. Discuss options for student access to course materials through eReserves, purchase of paper copy of books, student library access, e-books, OER materials, etc. Identify supplementary course materials, such as a textbook, individual readings, or other materials to augment course content as desired/needed.
Plan media needs for exercises and labs far enough out to ensure that there is time to develop them in time for the course rollout. Review known options for adding media to a course with author and brainstorm new ideas based on the course needs.

Schedule a meeting with the Programming and Media Team, the author and learning designer to discuss media needs for the course.
Brainstorm and discuss media needs to support the course content with the Programming and Media Team and the learning designer.
Write lesson content, including any exercises, labs, and learning assessments to ensure that the content and the assessments are appropriate for the course description. Review content and assessments to help course writer to understand how much content is ‘enough’ and provide feedback to help the course writer prepare the course to ensure content presentation is clear for students. Create content and assessment commensurate with course’s credit designation and level of difficulty.  
Implement copyright, usability, and accessibility best practices to ensure compliance with legal requirements and Penn State policy. Review usability and accessibility requirements with author prior to development of content. Explain and provide links to Creative Commons and OER materials, as well as to materials on how to make images, media, tables, etc. accessible.

Review course content for materials which require adaptation to comply with usability and accessibility standards.
Notify the learning designer of any new material added which may present a copyright, usability, or accessibility challenge and necessitate accommodation.
Ensure course supports Academic Integrity:  (1) Develop a course in which robust assessment design minimizes the temptation of cheating while maximizing the tracking of any cheating which does occur. (2) Enforce College policies to maintain academic rigor in Penn State courses. Explain academic integrity issues and concerns specific to the online course environment, provide input on strategic assessment design and tracking. Understand and enforce the Academic Integrity policies of the College.
Implement multiple test versions and revise assessments between offerings.
Confirm that all materials in the University's Learning Management System (i.e., Canvas) are functioning properly (including visibility, user tracking, access, and assessment completion parameters). Introduce advanced features of LMS to enable faculty to better manage online courses, communications and grading.
Provide organization options and consulting on developing LMS materials.
Prepare the gradebook, assessments, discussion forums, calendar, and any other functionalities intended to be used during the course.  
Use Drupal effectively. Instruct faculty on how to add and rearrange pages in the content management system, as well as how to edit course content and add images, tables, and media using templates.

Review pages and provide feedback to enhance user experience and learning.
Acquire a level of proficiency with Drupal in order to perform basic changes to the course independent of the learning designer.
Proofread and properly format materials to present a polished, fully functional course to students. Ensures the content is clear, including spell checking the pages in the course and formatting content to make it visually engaging.   Reviews content to ensure it is current, accurate, and relevant.
Adhere to Penn State Policies. Ensures all policies required by the University are clearly stated on the course syllabus and up to date. Incorporate any additional course policies into the syllabus that are desired, such as a late work policy.
Keep course content current. Remind the current course instructor(s) that academic departments expect that the course will be updated on-the-go to maintain the currency of content. Continue to tweak the content of the course, responding to changes in the field or updating to improve student assignments and interactions.