Aspects and Elements of Course Design and Development

The following aspects and elements are resources that may be used by faculty and ID&T course designers during course development to add context to the development process.

  • The term “aspects” represents items that a student may not see but that play a major role in the course design and development process.
  • The term “elements” represents items that students will see.

Faculty course developers and instructional designers may freely copy and make adjustments to these materials to fit their individual style.


Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – all our courses need to be compliant with this law. Regis University is implementing the Policy for Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility (EIT).

"Regis University strives to attract the highest caliber of faculty, staff, and students. In addition, the university recognizes that future education trends will utilize web space design to better serve web users with and without disabilities. These factors, coupled with the university’s overall commitment to a diverse and inclusive educational and work environment, merit a comprehensive university policy on EIT. Regis University is focused on ensuring that EIT is accessible to all. Accessibility is not only a legal issue, but part of our Jesuit mission."

Copyright – all course material must follow copyright law. The library is the default re source for questions pertaining to copyright and fair use.

Course alignment – critical to good course design and development but an aspect of a course that can be easily overlooked, Course alignment ensures that:

  • Learner outcomes cascade from the course outcomes.
  • The course has activities that demonstrate the learning of the student for each of the learner outcomes.
  • Each course activity has an appropriate level of evaluation.

Course loading into LMS – all courses, regardless of delivery mode, should be associated with the learning management system (LMS). If it isn’t a fully online course, at a minimum the grade book and assignment dropbox should be created. ID&T will support this effort if course content needs to be loaded. However, the decision to use ID&T for such support remains with the faculty.

Course mapping – a technique used to ensure course alignment.

Course mobility – the capability of online or blended course to be platform agnostic, or seen on as many devices as possible.

Course quality – all new course development should go through a course quality evaluation.

Planning document – a document that captures the planning needed before actual content development starts. Course design and development is producing a product – the course. No one who ever sit down and start writing code for a software program without the appropriate planning being done first; the same logic applies to Course Design and Development. When you know a subject really well, it is human nature to start writing about it and feel that you don’t need to plan since you know it so well. You want it to evolve as you write it. With this approach, the concern is the tendency to address more what you know the best and maybe not what the course and learner outcomes say is most important. You may or may not hit the target of what the course is really to accomplish, but the risk is you may not know since you didn’t clearly establish the target up-front.


Assessments – every learner outcome should be assessed. The assessment should demonstrate the student’s ability to perform the outcome. Every assessment should have an associated rubric.

Course outcomes – should cascade from the program outcomes. Course outcomes need to be observable and usually consist of five to eight outcomes per course. They are written at a higher level than the learner outcomes.

Course overview – every course should have a course overview. As the name implies, the course overview should give the student an abstract of what to expect in the course. It should also get the students attention in a way that makes them interested in taking the course.

Discussion questions – the writing of discussion questions is critical in the online environment. Prior to starting a new discussion, it should be clearly stated to all involved why the discussion is important and the learning that should take place from the discussion.

Learner outcomes - these cascade from the course outcomes. Learner outcomes should clearly state what the expectation is regarding what the student should be able to do after completing that section of the course.

Learning activities – these can vary from readings to projects. Regardless of the activity, it is critical to include why the student is doing the activity. Learning activities should engage the student much as possible. One approach is to lead students to the information rather than giving them all the information up front.

Multimedia – when used properly, multimedia can enhance learning and become a key aspect of the course. Before implementing multimedia, aks how it will enhance the learning. Never use technology simply for the sake of technology.

Rubrics – every assignment should have a rubric.

Syllabus – every course should have a syllabus. If a course is offered both on-ground and online, the syllabus should be the same except for any activities unique to the delivery mode.

Weekly or topic overviews – overviews should let the student know what is coming or expected in the week or topic. Overviews should grab the attention of the student and let them know why it's important.


If Option 2 is selected, a checklist should be used to help determine what resources are needed for this effort.

  • Make sure everyone involved in the development process understands the latest date that all course materials should be ready in the LMS.
  • Ensure course developers are aware of the wide assortment of job aids available on the ID&T website.
  • Outcomes of the initial planning meeting
    • Agreement on how the course will be developed, whether withIn the LMS or wihther content will be given to ID&T to put in LMS).
    • Agreement on due dates and when the course will be offered.
    • Agreement on the ID&T resources required to support the course development effort.