eLearning Course Development Process

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eLearning Course Development Process

Before committing to developing an online course it is essential that you determine if distance learning is a good fit for you, your course and your pedagogy. If you are interested in teaching online you should:

  1. Visit eLearningBCC to familiarize yourself with the types of distance learning courses offered at BCC.
  2. Review the MCCC Distance Learning Agreement.
  3. Speak with other faculty members who have taught online in order to understand the time commitment involved, the technological skills needed to develop and teach online, and the pedagogical challenges of the virtual classroom. Contact the Dean of eLearning for a list of eLearning faculty who are able to assist you.
  4. Discuss with your department and Divisional Dean your ideas about course adaptation.
  5. Discuss the issues/challenges related to the specific course, pedagogical considerations, and professional development needed to successfully adapt the course for the online environment with the Dean of eLearning.

The Divisional Dean will meet with the appropriate Department Chair or Program Coordinator and will make a determination if and how the proposed course fits into existing online program offerings. If the Divisional Dean approves the proposed course as one fitting programmatic needs, the Divisional Dean and Dean of eLearning will work with you to complete Part 1 of the request form.

The course proposal form will then be forwarded for final approval to the Vice President for Academic Affairs or designee.

Note: not all courses will be offered in the subsequent semester after they are approved. Course scheduling will be dependent on student demand, program fit, and faculty professional development requirements.

Note: this process is for courses already offered at the college that faculty wish to adapt in order to teach them online. If you have an idea for a new course that you think would make a good online offering it will need to be approved by the College Wide Curriculum Committee (CWCC). Your Divisional Dean can provide you with additional information on this process.

First-time faculty developers

Faculty teaching online for the first time will participate in structured professional development training offered by the Center for Instructional Technology Expertise and/or the Lash Center for Teaching and Learning in online pedagogy, best practices and standards for online course design, usability and accessibility issues, netiquette and student engagement considerations, and other standards and policies as they relate to the online environment.

First-time faculty members are also encouraged to participate in an eMentoring relationship with an experienced online faculty member. Please contact your Divisional Dean and/or the Lash Center for Teaching and Learning to discuss the options that are available.

Experienced Online Faculty

Individualized training will be provided to faculty who have previously taught online and will be tailored to meet pedagogical and technological needs. Faculty members who have taught online but not at BCC will also be required to undergo training to gain familiarity with the policies, procedures and resources unique to the BCC online environment.


Faculty will receive compensation in accordance with the MCCC Distance Learning Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to be paid at the successful adaptation of the course to the online environment. Successful adaptation will be determined through a demonstration of how the course meets the established adaptation standards as defined by the eLearning Handbook.

Please note that this demonstration is not for evaluative purposes but is to ensure that the course adheres to institutional standards and policies, union agreements, and usability and accessibility requirements. If a course does not meet the established adaptation standards during the initial review, the faculty has the right to address the deficiencies prior to the course being offered. Please note that a course cannot be offered until it is satisfactorily adapted to the online environment.

eLearning Handbook

Although every course is different there are a number of key components that must be included in every course design – regardless of whether the course is offered through eLearningBCC or an alternative system (such as a publisher provided or personal web site).

  1. Every course must contain a “getting started” area
  2. The syllabus must reflect the online course environment
  3. The course schedule must clearly delineate any required in-class or synchronous online meetings
  4. Courses must be designed for usability and accessibility
  5. Online engagement strategies must be used to facilitate student-to-student and faculty-to-student interaction.

Course Introduction and Overview

Every course must include a “getting started” area. This helps students identify what they are supposed to do first upon logging into the course site, provides them with resources for getting help, and assists in building a community of learners in the course. The getting started area has been shown to ease the level of fear and confusion that students (especially new students) feel about taking a course online.

The getting started area should include:

Although it may seem redundant for every course to have these common components, remember that your course may be the first online course that a student has taken! Providing this information in every course space ensures that students are able to access the appropriate student supports necessary for success in your class and in the virtual environment.

Suggested Resources:

Syllabus and Schedule

As you develop your syllabus it is important that you consider the types of things that are different in the online environment – including attendance, faculty-to-student and student-to-student interaction, and teaching procedures.

Per the MCCC Distance Learning Agreement you must utilize the Distance Education Course/Instructional Materials Checklist for Course Materials Form DE-1 as part of the syllabus development process. The DE-1 form contains a list of the contractual components required in your syllabus as governed by the collective bargaining agreement.

All instructors of distance education courses are required to have an interaction plan as part of their syllabus. The interaction plan should indicate how the course will operate (fully online, hybrid, student option), what components are synchronous versus asynchronous, and an explanation of how both the students and instructor will communicate in the online environment.

For hybrid courses the interaction plan must clearly define the in-class meeting dates and the online expectations. Students enrolled in hybrid courses are expected to meet face-to-face on the days and times specified in the schedule. They are not generally required to be online during the same days and times when the course does not meet in-person unless the faculty wishes to run their online classroom in a synchronous fashion using a real-time collaboration tool. If real-time online collaboration is required then this needs to be clearly articulated in the schedule so students are aware of the time commitments.

In addition to the required MCCC items, the college requests that all eLearning faculty add the following paragraph from the Office of Disability Services to their syllabi:

Disability Accommodations

Bristol Community College complies with federal legislation for individuals with disabilities (Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990) and offers reasonable accommodations to qualified students with disabilities. It is your responsibility to notify me and the Office of Disability Services of your need for classroom accommodations. Accommodations are arranged through the Office of Disability Services/ODS, which will issue a confidential Disability Services Accommodation Form. This should be accomplished, when possible, during the first two weeks of class. If you have questions about the process, please contact ODS by calling (508) 678-2811 x2955 or stopping by B104. You may also contact ODS online at

Suggested Resources:

Course Design

Although every course design is different due to the nature of the subject matter and the faculty member who is teaching the course, all courses must be designed with usability and accessibility in mind. Some of the key components faculty need to consider when designing their courses are as follows:

  • Course Architecture and Navigation
    • Is the course site easy to use?
    • Can students find what they are looking for?
    • Is the content well organized and structured?
  • Online Course Design
    • Is the course site and course content accessible?
    • Is the choice of colors appropriate?
    • Can students read the text that is presented?
    • Does the course site suffer from information overload?
  • Course Content
    • Are the course materials formatted for the online environment?
    • Are specific technological requirements clearly stated?
    • Is information provided to assist students who may be having difficulty accessing specific content?
    • Are copyright guidelines followed?
    • Are appropriate learner supports incorporated?
    • Are content links up-to-date and active?

During the course development process staff members from the Center for Instructional Technology Expertise (CITE) will support faculty in addressing these issues to ensure the usability and accessibility of both course design and content.

Suggested Accessibility Resources

Suggested Course Design Resources:

Online Engagement Strategies

A key factor in student success in online courses is the level of student-to-student and student-to-instructor interaction. Instructors should design a high degree of interactive activities into their courses that provide for ongoing and timely communication and feedback.

Suggested Resources

Use of Alternative Systems

If you are using an alternative eLearning system (such as a publisher provided or personal web site) your eLearningBCC course site must be activated as it does provide the jumping off point for students in the online environment.

Your eLearningBCC course space must at a minimum provide:

  1. A link to the course space and/or resources
  2. Instructor contact information
  3. The course syllabus

If you also choose to include a “getting started area” within the external course site that is fine, but initial instructions must be provided within the eLearningBCC course space – particularly if a publisher provided key code or other registration information is required to enter the external site.

In addition, it is critical that these questions are answered prior to adoption or use of alternative course sites:

  1. What is the data retention policy of the site?
  2. What is the site’s privacy policy?
  3. What are the registration requirements of the site?
  4. Are there costs associated with the use of the site?
  5. Are there specific hardware or software requirements needed to access the site or the content?
  6. Is the site and content accessible to users with disabilities?
  7. How can students obtain technical support?
  8. Can you backup or archive your course content?
  9. What happens if the site goes down or the provider goes out of business?
  10. What is your contingency plan if this occurs?