The UA Online course development/revision process is a collaborative effort between a content expert (faculty), an Academic Assistant Director, and a team of instructional designers and media specialists to deliver a high quality online course that supports a University of Alabama distance degree program.
To find out if you are eligible to partner with UA Online to develop your online course or program, contact the Academic Assistant Director who serves as the liaison for your University of Alabama academic unit.
What is an online course?
Online courses developed in collaboration between University of Alabama faculty and the UA Online team are delivered in Blackboard, the University’s course Learning Management System. In this environment students access course materials, conduct course activities, interact with other students, participate in discussion and collaborate on projects. In addition, students interact with their professors and complete examinations in a secure online environment. The UA Online team works closely with faculty to assure that online courses are engaging, interactive and support the same academic goals as courses delivered on campus in Tuscaloosa.
The Course Development Process
The Program Development team works with each academic unit to compile a list of courses needing to be developed or revised. Course authorization requests are solicited for the next available course development cycle of Spring/Summer and Fall approximately one year in advance. Once the course list is reviewed and approved by departmental or college leadership and the assigned Academic Assistant Director, the list is sent to the instructional design team in the department of Instructional Technology and Academic Services.
Each course that is identified and approved for online development is assigned to an instructional designer. The instructional designer partners with the faculty course content expert throughout the entire course development process. As the content expert is introduced to the course development process, the instructional designer will share information about available course development resources, processes and policies. More information about the course development schedule is detailed below.
The Course Development Schedule
The early stages of a new online course development or existing online course revision include an opportunity for the content expert to learn more about the course development schedule.
The instructional designer will suggest a series of milestone dates for the content expert to pace the course development, with the goal of delivering the final product by the pre-determined course delivery semester (Fall, Spring, or Summer). When necessary, the instructional designer will customize a development schedule that both meets the needs of the content expert while ensuring there is sufficient time to produce the necessary content for the course. The content expert will be encouraged to share their ideas and goals for the course at this time through one-on-one design meetings with their assigned instructional designer.
Each course development begins with developing a course outline and clarifying the role it plays in the development of the content expert’s online course. The development of the course outline includes establishing course-level learning objectives and creating the title and learning objectives of each module, resulting in a “big picture” outline view of the course. Next, the content expert determines activities and assessments to include in the online course that are intended to reinforce and assess student learning. These are added to finish up the outline and provide the instructional designer with sufficient information to begin to build course materials in an interactive and student-centered manner. From there, the outline is used as a guide for the content expert to create content that, with assistance from the instructional designer, evolves into a robust and interactive online course.
Once the course is complete, the academic department and unit review and approve the final product. After approval, our Technical Support Team makes the finished course available for the instructor and students on the first day of class in Blackboard, The University of Alabama’s online course Learning Management System. Our Technical Support Team remains available for instructors and students after the course is live and throughout the academic term for courses developed by UA Online.
Quality Matters is a faculty-centered, peer review process that is designed to certify the quality of online courses and online components. QM has received national recognition for its peer-based approach to quality assurance and continuous improvement in online education. Our instructional designers use the QM Rubric as a guide to ensure quality in all online courses.