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Development

The Development or production phase is informed by the course blueprint developed in the Design phase. Instructional materials and resources, such as instructor notes, activities, assessments, and media are created, along with the online learning environment in which they will be presented. Decisions on which materials will be created by the course developer are made during this phase. It is important to design and assess materials to ensure that they meet accessibility standards (i.e., Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)Accessibility Rules for Educational Institutions (Ontario)Web Content Accessibility Guidelines - WCAG 2.0), as well as any quality standards (e.g., Quality Matters Higher Education Course Design rubricOnline Learning Consortium Quality Scorecard, etc.). Once the course is posted to the online learning environment, a quality assurance check is advised to ensure that components are organized appropriately, there are no errors in presentation, and technical elements are functioning.

Assessments

Assessments document and measure an individual learner's progress towards the learning outcomes of the course. Assessment methods may vary and include, but are not limited to, written tests or reports, oral reports and presentations, activities, discussions, and exams.



Give clear directions

Planned icon.Clearly articulated directions provide a guiding framework enabling learners to successfully meet the expectations of an assessment. Clear directions surrounding an assessment reduce confusion and lessen stress, allowing learners to move more productively towards the presented outcomes.


Associated UD Principles

  • UID - Principle 3: Straightforward and consistent, Principle 4: Information is explicitly presented and readily perceived; Ouellett, M. (2004), Palmer, J. & Caputo, A. (n.d.)
  • UDL - Principle 1: Provide multiple means of representation; Principle 3: Provide multiple means of engagement; Boskic, N., Starcher, K., Kelly, K., & Hapke, N. (2008)
  • UDI - Principle 4: Perceptible information; Madaus, J. W., et al. (2011)
Offer choices 

Planned icon.By allowing learners to present their opinions, as well as their understanding and knowledge in a manner of their own choosing, instructors can better assess a learner's progress within a course. However, depending on the outcomes learners are to achieve, not all assessments offer flexibility of choice. Nonetheless offering choice where possible allows learners to engage in the course in a way that suits their learning style and lets them present what they know to the best of their abilities.

Consider whether your assessments can offer flexibility and choice in medium (e.g., written expression, video/audio recording, and graphics), topic, etc.

Associated UD Principles

  • UID - Principle 2: Flexibility in use, participation and presentation; McAlexander, P. J. (2003)
  • UDL - Principle 2: Provide multiple means of action and expression, Principle 3: Provide multiple means of engagement; Kelly, K. (2013), Rose, D. H. & Meyer, A. (2002-b)
  • UDI - Principle 2: Flexibility in use; Scott, S. S., McGuire, J. M., & Foley, T. E. (2003)
Provide rubrics 

Planned icon.Rubrics clearly outline how a project or an assignment will be assessed by communicating the expectations surrounding each component and describing different levels of quality. With a rubric, instructors can ensure the assignment is aligned with course learning outcomes and create a valuable grading tool, ensuring consistency and structured feedback. For learners, rubrics lead to success, clarifying performance expectations and facilitating self-assessment according to the various criteria aligned to the assessment's learning outcomes.

Note: If your rubric is in table format, ensure the table is offered in an accessible format.

Associated UD Principles

  • UID - Principle 3: Straightforward and consistent, Principle 4: Information is explicitly presented and readily perceived; Ouellett. M. (2004)
  • UDL - Principle 2: Provide multiple means of action and expression; Poore-Pariseau, C. (2013), SET-BC (2016)
  • UDI - Principle 3: Simple and Intuitive; Madaus, J. W., et al. (2011-a)
Allow for ongoing revisions or draft submissions 

Planned icon.Breaking down large assignments into smaller sections helps motivate learners and keeps them engaged and working in the online environment. By allowing learners to tackle smaller sections, the task is less daunting and more manageable. Receiving peer or instructor feedback provides monitored progress towards the assignment's goal and also promotes interactions with both peers and the instructor.

Associated UD Principles

  • UID - Principle 5: Supportive learning environment; Palmer, J. & Caputo, A. (n.d.)
  • UDL - Principle 3: Provide multiple means of engagement; Kumar, K. L. & Wideman, M. (2014)
  • UDI - Principle 5: Tolerance for error; DeLong, R. (2008), Dukes III, L. L., Koorland, M. A., & Scott, S. S. (2009)

Activities

A learning activity is a task that engages the learner in the learning process, having them utilize or research appropriate information to build a foundation of knowledge or develop a skill set pertinent to the course learning outcomes.

 

Incorporate discussions

Planned icon.Peer engagement in the face-to-face classroom is an important part of developing and creating confidence. Learners share learning and studying approaches, discuss and clarify assessments, develop communication skills, and diversify their perspectives. In the online environment, virtual discussions can foster similar engagement.

Both synchronous and asynchronous discussions can be conducted online, however, consider how each learner is able to use and engage with the mode you select. Asynchronous discussions allow for multiple modes of submissions. They give learners the opportunity to respond in a time that suits their schedules and an opportunity to digest and reflect before responding. Synchronous discussion allows instructors to address questions immediately, however, it may not be available to all learners depending on their availability, the platform hosting the discussion, and the availability of accessible features, like captions.

Associated UD Principles

  • UID - Principle 2: Flexibility in use, participation and presentation, Principle 5: Supportive learning environment; McAlexander, P. J. (2003)
  • UDL - Principle 3: Provide multiple means of engagement; Rose, D. H., et al. (2006)
  • UDI - Principle 8: Community of learners; Black, R. D., Weinberg, L. A., & Brodwin, M. G. (2015)
Encourage use of reflections, journals and blogs 

Planned icon.Completing a journal entry, blog, or weekly reflection helps keep learners engaged with the content and on track in the course. Weekly reflections allow learners to further explore their learning, investigate how it may be applicable to their lives, and reflect upon any difficulties they may have in a topic or section. As well, the entries, if available to the instructor, can provide insight into learners' progress through the course and be a connection point for discussion between instructor and learner.

Associated UD Principles

  • UID - Principle 2: Flexibility in use, participation and presentation, Principle 5: Supportive learning environment
  • UDL - Principle 3: Provide multiple means of engagement; Croasdaile, S. S., et al. (2012), Smith, F. G. (2012), Rose, D. H. and Meyer A. (2002-b)
  • UDI - Principle 2: Flexibility in use, Principle 8: Community of learners;
Offer opportunities for self-assessments and peer-assessments 

Planned icon.Self-assessments encourage learners to look critically at their work and to assess their effort for completeness and quality. Peer-assessments expose the learner to the work of others, encouraging the development of a critical eye, deepening their knowledge on a topic and diversifying perspectives. By using the rubrics set by the instructor, the class becomes familiarized with the expectations and key considerations for a project and the rubric feedback is useful for future revisions.

Associated UD Principles

  • UID - Principle 2: Flexibility in use, participation and presentation, Principle 5: Supportive learning environment; McAlexander, P. J. (2003)
  • UDL - Principle 3: Provide multiple means of engagement; Smith, F. G. (2012)
  • UDI - Principle 2: Flexibility; Principle 5: Tolerance for error, Principle 8: Community of learners; DeLong (2008)
Consider using pre-tests 

Planned icon.Building pre-tests into the online environment can support learning by allowing learners to test their understanding without penalty. Feedback from this form of support directs them to areas of weakness that may need further review and can indicate useful support resources.


Associated UD Principles

  • UID - Principle 2: Flexibility in use; Principle 5: Supportive learning environment; Palmer, J. and Caputo, A. (n.d.)
  • UDL - Principle 2: Provide multiple means of action and expression, Principle 3: Provide multiple means of engagement; CAST (n.d.-e)
  • UDI - Principle 5: Tolerance for error; Madaus, et al. (2011-b)

Materials

Additional resources such as audio, video, tables, graphics, and readings, are often an integral part of a course. The resources chosen should be carefully selected in support of the content, as well as be accessible and usable by the wide variety of learners in the online environment.

 

Supply materials in multiple modalities

Planned icon.Supplying materials in multiple modalities provides access to all learners at all times. This can include video and audio files, accompanied by transcripts, a graphic image with descriptive text, or a written concept explained through a diagram or concept map. By creating materials, or selecting resources, that can be offered in multiple forms, learners can select the mode that best suits their learning needs at the time.

Associated UD Principles

  • UID - Principle 2: Flexibility in use, participation and presentation; Lightfoot, E. & Gibson, P. (2005)
  • UDL - Principle 1: Provide multiple means of representation, Principle 3: Provide multiple means of engagement; Dell, C. A, Dell, T. F., & Blackwell, T. L. (2015), Phillips, J. (2015)
  • UDI - Principle 2: Flexibility in use; Scott, S. S., McGuire, J. M., & Foley, T. E. (2003)
Select accessible resources 

Planned icon.When selecting and posting online resources, ensure that they are accessible to everyone. All videos should include captions or have transcripts available, and audio files should also have a transcript. When posting assessment files, supporting documents, readings, or other resources, ensure the file is in an accessible format. If you require a textbook for the course, see if an accessible version can be made available, or if an accessible electronic version already exists. (See: Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities (AODA)Accessibility Rules for Educational Institutions (Ontario); Web Content Accessibility Guidelines - WCAG 2.0).

Associated UD Principles

  • UID - Principle 1: Accessible and fair (equitable) use; Elias, T. (2011), Rao, K. & Tanners, A. (2011)
  • UDL - Principle 1: Provide multiple means of representation; Kumar, K. (2010), Tobin, T.J. (2013)
  • UDI - Principle 1: Equitable use, Principle 2: Flexibility in use; Dukes III, L. L., Koorland, M. A., & Scott, S. S. (2009)
Choose resources relevant to content, activities and assessments 

Planned icon.Any materials selected for the course should be relevant and support the learning outcomes, content, activities, and assessments of the course. The resources should provide the learner with opportunities to link concepts, establish new concepts and strategies, and solidify understanding.

Associated UD Principles

  • UID - Principle 3: Straightforward and consistent; Dawson, T. & Keenan, L. (2009)
  • UDL - Principle 1: Provide multiple means of action and engagement, Principle 3: Provide multiple means for engagement; CAST (n.d.-a)
  • UDI - Principle 3: Simple and intuitive;
Test for accessibility 

Planned icon.VPAT's, or Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates, describes how a product or service features meet accessibility criteria of Section 508. Although this can be a good starting point for assessing the accessibility of product or service before incorporating it into your course, it is important to test all the functions of potential technologies. In testing consider the diversity of the learners that may enroll in the course, their needs and the potential adaptive technologies they may use to interact with the product and course environment.

Associated UD Principles

  • UID - Principle 3: Straightforward and consistent; Rao, K. (2012)
  • UDL - Principle 1: Provide multiple means of action and engagement, Principle 3: Provide multiple means for engagement; Poore-Pariseau, C. (2010), Boskic, N., Starcher, K., Kelly, K., & Hapke, N. (2008)
  • UDI - Principle 1: Equitable use, Principle 3: Simple and intuitive; Madaus, et al. (2011-a)

Layout, Structure, Sequence

Layout, structure, and sequence are important design factors to consider when building an online course as they can impact the accessibility, usability, and comprehensiveness of content by learners. Layout is the visual representation of materials. Course content that is organized and makes use of headings and subheadings is important to helping learners to engage with and understand the information being communicated. Content organized in this fashion creates scannable blocks of content to help readers mentally group similar topics. Page layouts should consider such elements as, whitespace, placement of graphics and media, and font size and colour.

Structure refers to the conceptual organization of materials. For instance, a consistent overarching course structure that includes modules or units allows for the organization of key topics in the course. These topics can then be tied to the weeks of the course's duration and provide learners with areas of focus. Modules should also be structured similarly to support a pattern of learning and reinforce expectations of the course.

Sequencing is the order the in which materials are presented. Appropriate sequencing allows for smooth transitions between topics and facilitates scaffolding of content to allow students to develop foundational knowledge and continually develop their learning to take on more challenging tasks.

Consider screen size and using multiple pages 

Planned icon.The technologies available today allow learners to interact with their online learning environment using a multitude of devices. In designing the content pages of your course, consider the various ways learners will be accessing that content. Laptops, desktops, tablets, and phones have various screen sizes; by breaking content into sections or by using multiple webpages in the design, content can be made clear and accessible to everyone.

Associated UD Principles

  • UID - Principle 1: Accessible and fair (equitable) use, Principle 2: Flexibility in use, participation and presentation; Elias, T. (2011)
  • UDL - Principle 1: Provide multiple means of representation;
  • UDI - Principle 1: Equitable use, Principle 3: Simple and intuitive; Scott, S. S., McGuire, J. M., & Shaw, S. F. (2003), Madaus, et al. (2011-a)
Ensure consistency of navigation and layout 

Planned icon.Using a consistent navigational structure in an online learning environment allows learners to become familiarized with an intuitive layout and creates a comfortable setting where they can easily find the resources they require.


Associated UD Principles

  • UID - Principle 3: Straightforward and consistent; Rao, K. (2012)
  • UDL - Principle 1: Provide multiple means of representation; Boskic, N., Starcher, K., Kelly, K., & Hapke, N. (2008), Coombs (2010), Weir, L. (2005)
  • UDI - Principle 3: Simple and intuitive; Rao, K., Edelen-Smith, P., & Wailehua, C-U. (2015)
"Chunk" content

Planned icon.Breaking content into meaningful sections helps learners to process the presented information and build their understanding. When creating course pages consider how to effectively 'chunk' content into sections using headings, subheadings, lists, tables, and white space.

Associated UD Principles

  • UID - Principle 3: Straightforward and consistent;
  • UDL - Principle 1: Provide multiple means of representation; Principle 2: Provide multiple means of action and expression; Coombs (2010), King-Sears, M. (2009)
  • UDI - Principle 4: Perceptible information;
Ease of use 

Planned icon.A well-thought out and well-designed layout will be usable by everyone, taking into account the diversity of today's learners. Consider the degree of scrolling and clicking required to access information; is the amount appropriate for the amount of information learners are receiving? Learners with limited motion may find navigating and clicking a mouse difficult. Does the design allow for navigation with the keyboard? Do the course pages have appropriate headings and tags to allow easy reading with a screen reader?

Associated UD Principles

  • UID - Principle 3: Straightforward and consistent; McAlexander, P. J. (2003)
  • UDL - Principle 2: Provide multiple means of action and expressions, Principle 3: Provide multiple means of engagement; Dell, C. A., Dell, T. F., & Blackwell, T. L. (2015)
  • UDI - Principle 3: Simple and intuitive; Scott, S. S., McGuire, J. M., & Foley, T. E. (2003)
Use outlines, checkpoints and summaries 

Planned icon.Providing an outline at the beginning of each unit and a summary of key concepts at the end, supports learners in structuring their learning for the unit. Placing understanding and comprehension checks in regular intervals in the course allows learners to self-monitor their progress towards the learning outcomes as well as identify areas of weakness. Concluding units, activities, videos, and other course elements with a summary of key points can help relate these key concepts to theories, practices and the broader learning outcomes.

Associated UD Principles

  • UID - Principle 5: Supportive learning environment;
  • UDL - Principle 1: Provide multiple means of representation; Davies, P. L., Schelley, C. L., & Spooner, C. L. (2013)
  • UDI - Principle 3: Simple and intuitive; Scott, S. S., McGuire, J. M., & Foley, T. E. (2003)
Make key points stand out 

Planned icon.Communicating the pertinent information from a unit, section, or instructional resource, helps learners identify essential information and relate key concepts to the learning outcomes of the course. By highlighting key features and ideas learners can focus their efforts on mastering information that is critical to their success.

Associated UD Principles

  • UID - Principle 4: Information is explicitly presented and readily perceived;
  • UDL - Principle 1: Provide multiple means of representation; Davies, P. L., Schelley, C. L., & Spooner, C. L. (2013), Morra, T. & Reynolds, J. (2010)
  • UDI - Principle 4: Perceptible information; Dukes III, L. L., Koorland, M. A., & Scott, S. S. (2009)
Define new terms and acronyms, and avoid jargon

Planned icon.Developing an online course environment that considers the diversity of potential learners’ means designing for various levels of background knowledge on a topic and a range of language and vocabulary skills. Defining terms that may be new and unfamiliar, avoiding or explaining jargon specific to an industry or subject, and defining acronyms provides clarity and support to learners who otherwise may struggle to comprehend the unfamiliar.

Associated UD Principles

  • UID - Principle 4: Information is explicitly presented and readily perceived; Dawson, T. & Keenan, L. (2009)
  • UDL - Principle 1: Provide multiple means of representation; CAST (n.d.-c)
  • UDI - Principle 3: Simple and intuitive;