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Instructional Design & Support

Developing an Online Course?

Where to start?

OIT collaborates with the Office of Online Learning and Academic Programs (OLAP) 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 Vice Provost of Academic Affairs. 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. You will need to share written approval to develop your online course from your Department Head. Please note that courses that are part of an online degree program will receive priority for OIT assistance.

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 a group of faculty who are each developing an online course. Over the course of a semester, there will be one cohort gathering, 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 OLAP. This training is designed to give you a “jumpstart” on your course development. This training takes 8 weeks and the estimated faculty time commitment is at least 20 hours and can take as much as 40 hours depending on your materials. 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. The training focuses on the development and delivery of a totally online, primarily asynchronous course.
  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 and will train you to develop the remaining units. 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 and training in creating your online lectures, discussion boards, assessments, and other elements of your course. The estimated faculty time commitment is a minimum of 10 hours per week for 12-15 weeks.
  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, missing closed captions, 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.

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.


Spring Cohort for Fall Courses

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

Summer Cohort for Spring Courses

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

Fall Cohort for Summer Courses

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.