Course Design & Development

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OpenEd works in partnership with academic departments on campus to provide instructors and course developers with guidance, support and resources for the development of new distance education (DE) offerings, conversion of existing on-campus courses to online delivery, and redevelopment and maintenance of current DE offerings.

A team-based approach supports distance education (DE) at the University of Guelph. As a course developer or instructor assigned to develop a new DE course or redevelop an existing one, you will work with an extensive team of experts. A distance learning program development specialist (DLPDS) will be your main point of contact throughout the project. You may also work directly with other members of our team, including the multimedia coordinator, copyright coordinator, or eLearning technology assistant.

Please contact the associate director, distance and continuing education if you have any questions about course design and development.

Course Design & Development Resources

Designing and developing an online course can feel like a daunting task when you consider all of the details that need to be addressed, such as learning outcomes, assessments, activities, content, resources, media development, accessibility and copyright.

The following resources may be useful for those currently engaged in course design and development or for those looking to improve their online course(s).

If you are currently working with OpenEd to develop or redevelop an online course and have questions, please consult with your distance learning program development specialist or contact the associate director, distance and continuing education.

Assessments, Rubrics and Marking

A significant part of designing an online course is developing the assessments, rubrics and marking strategies. The following resources provide a starting point on these topics:

Course Design

Good instructional design is critical to developing a high-quality online course. When designing a course, there a number of foundational components that a course developer must consider from the beginning, such as the course framework or structure, the pedagogical model used, and constructive alignment of the outcomes, assessments and activities. The following resources outline a number of best practices for online course design:

Trends in Online Education

The field of online learning is constantly evolving. The resources included provide a lens on the changing needs of our learners and showcase a number of exemplars from a variety of Ontario institutions.

Instructional Design and Educational Theory

The following resources relate to instructional design and educational theory and practice:

Learning Activities

If you are developing or redeveloping an online course, the following resources provide some great ideas for online activities:

Quality Assurance in Online Learning

Assuring quality in online courses is an important part of any course design practice. The following resources outline common quality standards used to assess online courses and provide guidance on what elements make for an excellent online course:

Teaching and Learning Online with Technology and Media

As an online course developer, you may feel intimidated by technology or would like guidance on how to use media to support learning in your course. The following resources focus on technology use in online learning and media selection:

Academic Journals

There are a number of national and international academic journals focused on the fields of distance education, online learning, instructional design and technology. The following is a list of some of key journals:


The following are a number of academic blogs that focus on distance education and online learning: