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Online Course Development Initiative


The Online Course Development Initiative is a comprehensive program designed to assist faculty members with designing quality online courses and developing skills for effective online teaching. This yearlong program consists of several integrated components that seek to hone faculty expertise through interdisciplinary collaboration, critical reflection, consultation and peer mentoring. Faculty members who engage in the full range of experiences will be in a position to provide guidance and leadership for colleagues within their home school or department related to online teaching and course development. Below is a listing of key activities (followed by brief descriptions) for faculty members participating in the Online Course Development Initiative:

  • Exploring Guiding Principles for Teaching Online, Pre-Institute online activity (May 12-16, 2014)
  • Teaching and Learning Online Summer Institute, Face-to-face (May 19-23, 2014)
  • Designing For Community and Learning Online, Online course (June 2-20, 2014)
  • Course Design and Development Consultation (August-November, 2014)
  • Participate in the Digital Design Challenges (Fall and Spring semester)
  • Engage in course redesign and program evaluation activities.

Exploring Guiding Principles for Teaching Online (May 12 - 16, 2014)

During the week before the summer institute, participants will engage online in an introductory exploration, discovery and dialogue around guiding principles for teaching online. These principles, largely informed by Chickering and Gamson’s (1987) Seven Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education, have been designed as a lens to guide critical reflection about online teaching and course design. The exploration of the guiding principles listed below, will serve as a springboard for initial inquiry as faculty participants seek to define how teaching online can:

  • Foster a robust intellectual community
  • Encourage active learning
  • Promote reflection
  • Respect diverse talents and ways of learning
  • Provide prompt and meaningful feedback
  • Use digital technologies to support and enhance learning

Teaching and Learning Online Summer Institute (May 19 – 23, 2014)

The Teaching and Learning Online Summer Institute is designed to help faculty members begin to develop the knowledge and skills to enhance teaching effectiveness in the online environment. The Institute begins with the premise that teaching online involves much more than the design, development and delivery of content online; it also involves new teaching practices and skills to use technology in ways that support learning. With this in mind, the Institute has been designed to represent a balance of online pedagogy, hands-on skill development, and exploration of technology to support specific learning goals.

Designing Community and Learning Online (Online Course, June 2 - 20, 2014)

Building on the Summer Institute experience, this three-week online course is designed to provide participants with a learning experience that will guide them through a systematic approach to course design, while at the same time providing a valuable student perspective that can inform future practice in meaningful ways. This course will provide a foundation for follow-on work with CTE consultants, and equally important, allow for collaborative exploration of new teaching practices associated with online learning.  By the completion of the three-week course, faculty members should have a structural outline of their online course, and be prepared to move into course development.

Course Development with CTE Consultation (August – November, 2014)

During the fall semester, OCDI faculty members will partner with CTE consultants to continue the course development process. These bi-weekly consultations will serve to pace the development of the faculty member’s online course, and drawing on lessons learned from the summer components will be customized to meet individual design needs.

Teach the Online Course and Ongoing Activities (Fall 2013, Spring or Fall 2014)

Upon completing development of the online course, faculty members are expected to teach their course at least twice, with course redesign activities after the first offering.  As available, faculty members will be encouraged to share their experiences in weekly Digial Design Challenges sessions during the Fall and Spring semesters to both share their courses and share lessons learned and best practices.  In addition, they will also be offered an opportunity to present and participate in the annual VCU Online Learning Summit that is held in May.  Faculty participants in the OCDI are expected to participate in program evaluation activities that seek to understand the efficacy and improve the design of this program.


Faculty members who participate in the Online Course Development Initiative will each receive $3500 to support their work in the development of the online course. (Faculty who are on 12-month contracts, or have exceeded allowed salary increases from external funding sources will receive this as a departmental budget transfer).


Virginia Commonwealth University | Center for Teaching Excellence
Last modified: May 12, 2014
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