During online course development, faculty collaborate closely with a DLINQ Instructional Designer to design and create their online course. Instructional Designers bring expertise in digital pedagogy and course design; collaborating with an instructional designer ensures that it provides a consistent experience for students in line with the program consistency items, and that it adheres to accessibility standards, principles of inclusive design, and standards of research-based online learning design. The course development partnership is an opportunity to re-envision courses so that they can live their best lives as online, asynchronous courses within their programs.

A list of modules in a Canvas site.

Key Elements of the Course Development Process

Course development typically unfolds over a 3-4 month process. Our typical course development windows are September-December, January-mid-May, and mid-May-mid-August. The process may be slightly different for each ID and faculty pair. But here are some general milestones:


  • Kick off meeting: the first meeting between ID and faculty involves dreamscaping the course and developing a Project Charter that’s used to set out roles and responsibilities, timelines and milestones, and ways of working together.
  • Developing the course map: The ID and faculty work together to develop a course map that sets out the course topic outline and details about learning activities, assignments, materials, etc. If the course has been taught before the syllabus is usually a good starting point for this step.
  • Developing the course shell: The course map is used by the ID to create the Canvas course shell, which will be a skeletal version of the learning space that includes an overarching structure, design, layout, navigation, and placeholder content.
  • Gathering and creating content: The faculty member gathers and/or creates content, including multimedia content such as videos, and library reserves. The ID will work with the faculty to ensure that materials meet accessibility requirements (e.g., video captioning).
  • Adding content to the course shell: The faculty member adds content and/or adapts (placeholder) content provided by the ID in the course shell.
  • Developing a course communication plan: The ID and faculty work together to design a communication plan that details when and how the instructor will interact with the students. We believe in intentionally building instructor social presence into courses to boost student engagement.
  • QA: Once the Canvas course is finalized, the ID will perform a series of final quality assurance checks to ensure a smooth roll out.

The expected deliverable at the end of this process is a fully developed course that is ready to teach. A fully developed course includes the following components:

  • Finished course map (contains mapping of competencies and learning objectives, assessments, sequence of learning activities for all weeks of the course)
  • Fully developed Canvas site, using the designated program template, corresponding to the course map. This includes a finalized syllabus; for all modules, all content (readings/videos/etc.), activities/assignments, instructions, due dates, grading categories, and points.
  • Full quality assurance process including captions and transcripts, link validator, and UDOIT report/remediation.

For more details about the online course development process, please read the Faculty Guide to Developing Online Courses With DLINQ.

DLINQ Instructional Design Team

A portrait of Sarah LW smiling.

Dr. Sarah Lohnes Watulak

Director of Digital Pedagogy & Media
A portrait of Heather Stafford.

Heather Stafford

Instructional Designer
A portrait of Jeni Henrickson.

Dr. Jeni Henrickson

Instructional Designer
Photo of Sonja Burrows.

Dr. Sonja Burrows

Instructional Designer
A portrait of Luke Phelan.

Luke Phelan

Instructional Designer
A portrait of Sarah Payne.

Dr. Sarah Payne

Instructional Designer