Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT)

Online & Hybrid Course Design

Learning online is well-established in higher education, from fully online degrees to student choice of online or hybrid sections of courses. The maturity of this learning modality means that faculty embarking on a course design (or redesign) project have proven course design approaches, research-based best practices, and on-the-ground practical experience to draw from. Here you will find a curated selection of resources to get you thinking about how you might approach your design effort.

For on-the-ground practical experience from your colleagues, view posts from our Faculty Shared Practices contributors.

If you would like assistance with your project – whatever stage it is in – please schedule a consultation with the Instructional Designer.

Backward Design

Backward Design is a course design approach that starts with identifying the desired results (what you want learners to know and be able to do), proceeds to identifying evidence of that learning (how you will know what they have learned), and ends with the design of the learning experience (the activities, instruction, content, and technology that support learners achieving the desired results).  This approach offers a very helpful way to organize your course design project and will result in a learning experience that is well aligned with your goals for learners.

Wiggins G, McTighe J. Understanding By Design [e-book]. Alexandria, VA: Assoc. for Supervision and Curriculum Development; 2005. Access via the WCSU Libraries (requires WCSU login).

Online Course Design Best Practices

The CSCU Best Practices Resource Guide for Online Course Instruction (MS Word) and the SUNY Online Course Quality Review Rubric (OSCQR) are very useful tools for faculty to self-evaluate existing online courses and to use as a checklist for new course design.  The recommendations for effective online course design are organized by category and each category has several recommendations.