Course Design

Instructional designers at the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning (FCTL) provide the following course design serives to the campus community:

Online Courses

The FCTL instructional designers will work with faculty, staff, and subject matter experts from all over campus to develop and implement courses in Blackboard. Using evidence-based practices, the instructional design team will provide expertise, guidance, and assistance in the following areas of online course development:

  • Learner interaction and engagement
  • Educational technology integration
  • Alignment, activities, and assessment 

A detailed explanation of the FCTL course design process appears below.

Global Dissemination

Do you need to reach learners beyond the UMB sphere? Many grants and research projects include dissemination components. In collaborations with your project team, the FCTL will create outward facing educational materials or complete courses to support specific dissemination goals. Areas where the FCTL are ideal collaborators inlcude:

  • Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
  • Small Private Online Courses (SPOCs)
  • EdX
  • International Faculty Collaboratives 

Quality Reviews

On request, the FCTL instructional designers will review online courses to ensure they meet established quality standards, or provide feedback on specific course attributes. Typically, reviews focus on ensuring courses include the following:

  • Measurable learning goals
  • Clear alignment (how the activities, assessments, and resources support the learning objectives)
  • ADA accessibility and copyright compliance
  • Engaging activities
  • Authentic assessments

Our process is centered on Quality Matters principles. 

Accessibility Support

The following document is an accessibility checklist for online course development. We have identified 13 areas that are important to consider when designing an accessible course, along with practical guidelines and extra resources for each.

Accessibility Checklist

The FCTL Course Design Process

For schools, departments, or programs seeking to transition courses online or create new online courses, the FCTL begins by establishing the scope of course development services required. The FCTL creates a memorandum of agreement on the scope of work and responsibilities for its completion.

Next, we meet with departmental faculty to describe what to expect in the development process. Faculty new to online teaching might wonder about the dynamic of working with an instructional designer on their course. This collaborative meeting helps address their questions and concerns.

IDs then schedule individual consultations with instructors to begin the course planning process. Faculty and IDs work together in the preparation of a set of “storyboards” that are helpful for organizing learning outcomes, assessments, learning strategies, course materials, and other key instructional components.

Once this initial planning phase is complete, IDs begin building the course in Blackboard, adding multimedia and interactive features where appropriate.

Prior to launch, the course is tested and the instructors may receive course facilitation coaching.

All course activities, multimedia, and interactive features are made available for student viewing in Blackboard.

Finally, FCTL provides ongoing course maintenance throughout the first course offering and completes a quality review after the first offering concludes. The steps in the course design process are shown in the figure below.

Course Design FAQ 

What is instructional design?

Instructional design is the process of systematically and creatively planning and developing learning experiences. Grounded in research about how people learn, the instructional design process applies to both face-to-face and online educational environments. Frequently, though not necessarily, instructional design involves the use of technology to facilitate teaching and learning.


What does an Instructional Designer do?

Instructional designers (IDs) partner with faculty to design engaging and effective courses. While IDs provide ideas and feedback, faculty control all the decisions about how a course is structured, the content  presented, and the activities, assessments, and discussion questions to be included.

How can Instructional Designers help faculty?

At UMB, instructional designers work within the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning (FCTL), offering a core menu of instructional design services. The collective skill set of the instructional design team is broad, but the core services they offer UMB faculty include:

  • Refining course learning goals
  • Brainstorming learning activities and assessment strategies
  • Producing instructional videos and multimedia presentations
  • Ensuring ADA accessibility and copyright compliance
  • Building online courses in Blackboard or edX (MOOCs)
  • Providing online course facilitation training to instructors
  • Managing the course development project timeline
Other Resources

Kumar, S., & Ritzhaupt, A. (2017). What do instructional designers in higher education really do?. International Journal on E-Learning, 16(4), 371-393.


Creative Commons License

Course Design by Erin Hagar and Kevin Engler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Revised 2/14/2020