Design Process

Take Inventory

During a fully online course development at the Distance Education Unit we begin by asking instructors of a face-to-face (f2f) class to reflect on what their course looks like today. Taking careful inventory of learning materials, lecture materials and learning activities will give you the building blocks you need to begin organizing your course for remote delivery using an online Learning Management System (LMS). Watch this short video to get a sense of the thinking process behind taking inventory.

Learning Materials

Take inventory of your course’s Learning Materials.

What materials do you already have that will easily import into an online environment?

    • Textbooks
    • Readings
    • Online Videos
    • Software/Apps
    • Recorded Lectures
    • Other
Gathering your Learning Materials

If you’re still on the hunt for some great learning materials for your class follow this link to a short guide to selecting learning materials below:

There’s plenty of support for getting the right course materials into your online or remote class. From the Bookstore to the Library to the TLSE, here’s a few helpful links to find the support you need to get the job done.

Don’t forget about copyright in your remote course. Pedagogical and technical issues may make the shift from in-person to remote teaching a challenge but copyright concerns should not be a significant barrier! Check out the great resources available at USask for keeping your content compliant with copyright considerations.

Lecture Materials

Consider your Lecture

How does your lecture (what you say in class) tie these Learning Materials together to provide context and to help construct meaning for your students? Categorize the types of information you convey in your lectures. Make note of all the ways you tie the learning material pieces together in each weekly lecture.

Category of Lecture Material Contents of Lecture Material
Housekeeping Items
    • Welcome messages
    • Reminders
    • Classwide feedback
    • Expectations
    • Sequence of activities
Learning Material Context
    • Provide overviews of concepts and topics
    • Introduce readings and videos to help students focus on key messages
    • Relate content to current or real world events
    • Provide examples of concepts and ideas
    • Demonstrate a technique or experiment
    • Instruct student learning activities
    • Facilitate discussions
    • Guide case studies or problem-based learning
Remote Lecture Delivery Options

Your lecture probably comes pretty naturally to you if you’ve been teaching face-to-face for a while. But not all lecture material should be delivered in a remote class the same way. Consider how you will provide these various lecture components using appropriate tools in your remote classroom environment. See some examples of how you might deliver various lecture components in your remote course and the tools to make it work, below.

Delivery Method Example Tool

Written in the LMS text editor

(Most faculty find this to be the quickest and easiest form of delivering lecture components)

WGST 398 – Module Sample in BB

Blackboard (BB)



Voice-over PowerPoint video with interactive elements


AGRC 111 – The Plant Cell and Plant Breeding Panopto
Talking Head or Demonstration Video ETAD 802 – Research Fundamentals in Educational Technology Panopto
Lecture Capture Video Recordings from previous terms MIT OpenCourseware Lecture Capture Panopto – Lecture Capture Videos
Synchronous (Live) Lecture GMCTL Mock Class Sample WebEx

Learning Activities

Consider your student learning activities

You know what learning materials your students will have. You know what you’ll say in the lecture material and how you’ll deliver each piece in a remote teaching environment. What’s missing now is the active engagement and participation of your students. As the old saying goes,

“Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I’ll remember, involve me and I’ll understand.”

In your class, how do you ask your students to participate? Take inventory of all the ways you ask your students to actively engage with the materials, their peers and you.

    • Discussions
    • Debates
    • Jigsaw exercises
    • Case-Studies
    • Group work
    • Polling
    • Web quests
    • Reflective Journals
    • Peer Assessment
    • Other
Finding the tools for Active Learning

Translating what you DO with your students in the physical classroom into the online classroom can be the trickiest component of your course to design. There are countless online tools to help involve students in learning and help them understand but how do you find them and evaluate their effectiveness for your situation? Many face-to-face instructors simply don’t know what questions to ask when it comes to the tools available or the strategies for using them.

This index of Online Instructional Activities from the University of Illinois can get you started thinking about how to create active learning in your remote class.

Below is a link to a table of common teaching and learning practices, such as lectures, discussions, and group projects. You will find beside them suggested USask supported tools and resources to implement these practices remotely.

Feature Image by Pressmaster from Pexels CC0