Create an Online Course


Congratulations for choosing to create an online course.  First, you already have a wealth of experience.

  • In the classroom courses you teach you should have clear student learning outcomes.
  • You consistently create and assemble content that supports those outcomes.
  • You also create activities, interactions and assessments that help your learners meet the outcomes.

When you teach online you do the same, however you need to create your entire online learning environment before the course begins.

Create an Online Course is a working lab. You work on creating your online course. Collaboration occurs over the work you create in UH Google Documents and UH Google Sites.

Creating an online course is a lot of work. This workshop will get you started.

Also, online learning requires you take on new roles in the teaching-learning relationship. To be successful you must be willing to release control of learning to your students.

Teacher as Designer

  • Good course design is crucial, and yet good designers are under-valued. The “teacher as designer” is barely visible because this work is done before students enter the classroom. With good design, problems are not solved; they are dissolved, as they are less likely to happen.
  • The best designers are invisible.The goal is to fashion a course that places students in the center of the action so that they can move their projects forward.
  • Designing team projects takes time and effort. These projects must present students with challenging problems. The teacher must frame the problem and provide data to solve these cases. If the project is to reflect reality, the data should be incomplete, inconsistent, and redundant. A well-structured project will require students to wade through data to arrive at their own conclusions.
  • Good course design allows students to take ownership of the course. This empowerment of students by the instructor is the hallmark of a great leader…. Require students to learn by doing rather than by reading, writing, listening, and studying in solitude, and the virtual classroom will become the learning organization. by Edward Volchok 

Designing  an online course at begins the same place as a face-to-face course. You:

  • identify goals for the course,
  • describe the specific learning objectives,
  • define your tasks to meet those objectives, and
  • create applicable assignments around these tasks.

Although the fundamentals are the same, the techniques are very different for delivering the instruction and facilitating learner interaction.


Pedagogy refers to a directed learning approach to the teaching and learning process. Goals and objectives, content, instructional methods, and strategies all relate to pedagogy.

What Doesn’t Work

 A directed learning approach for online learning is insufficient and creates substandard online courses. 

Directed learning provides knowledge within a specific area predominantly with the use of lecture and tools including memorization, questions and answers, and immediate feedback. Faculty members take on the role of the  “sage on the stage” and learners have minimal independence. This pedagogical model doesn’t work for adult learners since adult learners require an environment of learning that is less structured and more independent.


In contrast, the term facilitated learning aligns with the andragogical approach to learning (adult learning). The educator acts as a “guide on the side” and is a resource for the students. Independent projects and student-led discussions create critical thinking opportunities. Andragogy assumes that adult learners possess five characteristics,

  1.  a developed self-concept,
  2. life experiences,
  3. a readiness to learn,
  4. an orientation toward learning,
  5. and an internal motivation to learn.

When designing college online courses, these  five components must be considered. The role of the instructor shifts from traditional lecturer, to teaching as a mentor/facilitator.

The Middle Way

If you have been lecturing your entire career, and new to teaching online,  you need to find the middle of the continuum and use strategies that will help you. Directed learning and facilitated learning fall on a continuum on opposite ends of the spectrum.   Guided discussions, group work, and problem-based learning are examples that characterize the middle of the continuum. Your goal is to create a collaborative learning environment between the educator and the learners.

 Social Presence

Effective online courses require a sense of a learning community, the social presence of the faculty member and learners. Learning always occurs and cannot be separated from a social context.  Research has shown that learning is enhanced when it is collaborative. Good learning, like good work, is collaborative and social, not competitive and isolated. Working with others increases involvement in learning. Sharing one’s own ideas and responding to others’ reactions improves thinking and deepens understanding (Chickering and Gamson, 1987). Learning online can greatly expand social context,  through the design of the online course 

Face-to-face course formats do not work online

As you begin to plan your online course keep in mind your goal is not to put your existing course online. Many face-to-face course formats do not work online. The classic example of this is the lecture class.

Example: The face-to-face version consists of a 3-hour lecture once per week, three papers, a midterm, and a final exam. Often the  instructors mindset is, “Covering content” and the focus is the delivery of information without context.

BUT they are way less work for the instructor

It is super easy to put a lecture based course online. Simply videotape each lecture, put the video on the web, have students submit papers via e-mail and take exams that automatically graded online. Your course will be easy breezy work. However, what you end up with is a poorly designed online course where your role in the learning process is questionable.

Moving content online is NOT about transferring content – it is about transforming content.

The online materials should be suited for both the environment and the online learning – and this process is part art, part science. Online learning is unique and the instructor must factor in the uniqueness of the medium.

Based on decades of research on the undergraduate student experience, The Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education, developed by Art Chickering and Zelda Gamson in 1987, are a useful guide designing online learning environments.

  1. Encourages contact between students and faculty,
  2. develops reciprocity and cooperation among students,
  3. encourages active learning,
  4. gives prompt feedback,
  5. emphasizes time on task,
  6. communicates high expectations, and
  7. respects diverse talents and ways of learning.

In this article Arthur W. Chickering and Stephen C. Ehrmann describe how to leverage the seven principles using technology; IMPLEMENTING THE SEVEN PRINCIPLES: Technology as Lever.

Overview of Topic Content and Activities

Earn a Letter of Completion

Read, watch and review the weekly content. The heart of How to Create an Online Course are the planning documents you create. The weekly content prepares you to plan.

You earn a badge when you complete a step. Earn all 5 badges and you qualify for a Letter of Completion. This letter is a valuable piece of evidence for Contract Renewal, Tenure, and Promotion.

Google@UH Consumer Apps

Under an agreement with Google, the University of Hawaii (UH) offers two types of Google applications through Google@UH:

  1. Core applications (Core Apps) and
  2. Consumer applications (Consumer Apps).

Core Apps include Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Sites, Groups (UH-only account collaboration), Contacts, and Talk. These applications are governed by a master agreement between UH and Google, and are available through Google@UH to all UH accounts.

Consumer Apps include applications such as Blogger, Google Bookmarks, Google Maps, Google Groups (all account collaboration), Google+, Picasa Web Albums, Google Analytics and YouTube.

Consumer Apps include Google+ which is  governed by either Google’s general Terms of Services or by app-specific terms

Before you Begin

  1. Turn on Consumer Apps
    1. To use the Consumer Apps with your Google@UH account, you must first turn on the Consumer Apps at
    2. Instructions to turn on the Consumer Apps are at
  2. Join the Google+ Community
    1. Click here>to say Aloha!
    2. Click on ‘Home’ to view your home stream – here you’ll see posts based on your interests and what/who you follow.

Quick rundown on how to use Google+

  1. Click on ‘Collections’ to see and share posts based on topics you’re interested in.
  2. Click on ‘Communities’ to have conversations with other people who share your interests.
  3. Click on ‘Profile’ to see your own posts.
  4. Click on ‘People’ to find people to follow, see who you are currently following (that’s where you manage your circles as well), or who follows you.
  5. Click on ‘Circle Streams’ to see streams (posts) from specific circles you’ve created. (NOTE: if you don’t see this option, go to Settings, scroll down to Advanced Settings, and turn on ‘Enable circle stream in navigation’.)
  6. In ‘Settings’ you can fine-tuned a few profile features, as well as your notifications.


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