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Instructional Design & Support

Developing an Online Course?

Where to start?

OIT collaborates with the Director of Online Programs to ensure that you launch a successful program/course that serves the needs of the citizens of Tennessee and beyond. Online programs that will use services provided by OIT or UT’s online program management company, Noodle Partners, must be approved by the Online Program Advisory Committee (OPAC), which is composed of membership from across campus and chaired by the Associate Provost of Faculty Development and Special Initiatives. Individual online courses are approved by the appropriate Department Head.

Once your program/course is approved for development, you can work with OIT for support during the course development process! Just contact the OIT HelpDesk at 865-974-9900 or complete a web form at and indicate that you are looking for support to develop an online course.

How will OIT support Faculty (You)?

YOU are at the center of the process. OIT provides the staff and resources to support you, thereby creating an environment where you can concentrate on the course content. OIT concentrates on how learning, teaching, and technology come together to create a successful online learning experience.

You will be assigned an OIT instructional designer to work with. Instructional designers typically have graduate degrees and excel at the process of creating efficient instructional experiences that support learning outcomes, are engaging, and aid student learning. However, please remember that instructional designers do NOT replace your subject area content and instructional expertise!

You do not need to be an expert in how to design and develop an online course – OIT has a team of professionals to help with that! In addition to instructional design support, your course will benefit from graphic design, videography, multimedia elements and teaching tools support!

Finally, when an instructional designer and faculty member join forces to create online courses, the courses are typically more effective and the students have better outcome, as reported by a comprehensive survey implemented by Quality Matters and Eduventures Research.

What is the process?

  1. Join a Cohort
    You will be assigned to an online course development cohort. A cohort simply refers to small groups of faculty (three or more) who are developing an online course. Over the course of a semester, there will be two cohort gatherings, where faculty will be expected to participate in person or synchronously online to share their progress. The cohort approach serves two purposes: 1) to provide a forum for faculty to interact with peers and share experiences with online course development, and 2) to provide a systematic approach for OIT to support more faculty in their online course development.
  2. Take Online Training
    First, you will participate in online asynchronous training that was developed jointly by OIT and Teaching and Learning Innovation (TLI). This training is designed to give you a “jumpstart” on your course development. As you progress through the training, you will be completing assignments that will help you to rethink your syllabus, create a course schedule, define assessments, and identify ways to engage your students online. Your instructional designer will be checking in with you during the online training to help you determine how to transfer successful face-to-face activities to an online teaching/learning environment.
  3. Develop Your Course
    After you complete the training, you will develop your online course. An instructional designer will help you create the first two units of your course in Canvas. During training you will have selected some options for including graphic design, video, and multimedia in your course, and now, OIT will be working on those elements for inclusion in your course. You will also receive help in creating your discussion boards, assessments and other elements of your course.
  4. Quality Assurance Check
    When your course is completely developed, OIT will initiate a quality assurance check, to ensure that the course materials are accessible and user friendly ( e.g. look for any typos, broken links, etc.)
  5. Course Implementation
    Offer your course!

When do cohorts begin?

Cohorts begin in February* (for fall launch), June* (for spring launch) and October* (for summer launch). Faculty start off in the Cohort by participating in asynchronous online training that is facilitated by an instructional designer. Once you are approved by your Department Head to develop an online course, you will be invited to join a cohort.

Typically faculty receive a one semester course release (or other compensation as determined by their department) to develop their online course. Online training will start a few months before your semester course release.

* unless start time is otherwise negotiated with a department or college


Fall Course Implementation

Fall Course Implementation Schedule

February – March : Online Training
April – July : Course Development
August : Quality Assurance Check
August – December : Course Implementation

Spring Course Implementation

Spring Implementation Schedule

June – July : Online Training
August – November : Course Development
December : Quality Assurance Check
January – May : Course Implementation

Summer Course Implementation

Summer Course Implementation Schedule

October – November : Online Training
January – April : Course Development
May : Quality Assurance Check
June – August : Course Implementation


Please contact the OIT HelpDesk at 865-974-9900 or complete a web form at and indicate that you are looking for support to develop an online course.

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