Online Learning

Online Course Development

At this time online course development will be managed in the departments.

The purpose of this section of the CETL website is to aid WSSU faculty and administrators interested in building online courses. CETL initiates a call for online course development applications in the Fall and Spring semesters of each academic year. Please ensure that all the required signatures are obtained and submitted via PDF to or via fax to (336)750–8690. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.

Submit Online Course Development Application to  

Additional resources are available in the Faculty Development Information Portal in Blackboard. To gain access to the portal email and request access to the portal.

Creating an Online Course

In this section, tools to evaluate instructor preparation for engagement in online learning and the application process for course development will be outlined. Teaching online necessitates a unique set of skills for the professor. Please review The Ten Crucial Roles of the Online Instructor for a summary.  Utilize Penn State’s brief survey to assess instructor readiness for online teaching prior to the decision to engage in online course development and teaching.

Strategic discussions about course conceptualization (determining learning goals, objectives, outcomes, and assessment methods) and how the course fits with current distance learning program/discipline offerings, should occur at the departmental level prior to application submission to CETL.

  • The course must be approved through Academic Standards and Curriculum Committee (ASCC).
  • The course will not need additional ASCC approval for online offering if it has been approved for face-to-face offering.
  • The faculty member developing the course is responsible for identifying an expert content reviewer who is a subject-matter expert preferably with some experience with online or hybrid teaching.
  • The expert content reviewer can be a person within or external to the University.
  • The faculty member is responsible for obtaining all required signatures on the application document.
  • Department Chairpersons are responsible for appropriately vetting the course through departmental processes and endorsement of the expert content reviewer.  

CETL initiates a call for online course development applications in the Fall and Spring semesters of each academic year. Applications and information about deadlines are available via the CETL website. Please ensure that all the required signatures on the application are obtained and submitted via PDF to or via fax to (336)750–8690.  Late or incomplete applications will not be considered. A staff member from CETL will contact the faculty member within six weeks of the Fall or Spring application deadline via e-mail to indicate whether the course has been approved.

Once the course is approved, a designated faculty development specialist will contact the faculty member to schedule a “kick-off” meeting during the semester of approved development. The faculty member, expert content reviewer (attendance is optional), AT team member and CETL faculty development specialist will be invited to the meeting. This meeting will cover the establishment of an individualized timeline and pedagogical and technical topics.  

This step identifies the activities and resources needed by faculty to develop effective online instruction. The time it takes to convert a course from face-to-face to online delivery varies widely depending upon the type of course, the course design, instructor experience and technological skill level. For a fully online course, plan on a minimum of 120-180 hours of development time. Set aside one to two hours per document to prepare and upload for online delivery, assuming the document is already written. It will take additional time to conceptualize and create online assessments to meet your learning objectives. If your course includes many media elements (graphics, video clips, audio clips, etc.), the development time will increase.

  • Refine your syllabus for effective online instruction;
  • Create and/or transfer existing content materials into your course production site in Blackboard 9.1 provided by Academic Technologies;
  • Conceptualize course components in the course site;
  • Conceptualize class management options in the course site. 

It is highly suggested that inexperienced online faculty course developers enroll in the Principals and Practices of Online Development Course. This is a two-week asynchronous course via Blackboard for WSSU faculty offered each Fall and Spring semester. Blackboard 9.1 Basic Training (is mandatory for all faculty and offered through AT) is a pre-requisite training for enrollment in this course. Faculty can take the Principals and Practices course while engaged in the course development process. CETL staff will also provide additional reading material regarding best practices for online course development.

Organizing Your Course Site

Sometimes, that new, empty Blackboard course shell designated for course development can seem overwhelming, especially for faculty new to online course development.  Where to start? How best to organize?

Begin with the video, "Getting Started with your Course Environment," which provides an overview of Blackboard 9.1, the learning management system utilized at Winston-Salem State University that provides a secure environment for teaching and learning.

If you're already familiar with Blackboard 9.1, use Blackboard Faculty Resources to identify featured links and video tutorials to meet your specific needs related to course content.

Student satisfaction and ease of use is enhanced with a site design that eliminates dead links, ambiguity, and unnecessary clicks. Furthermore, designing with accessibility for students with disabilities in mind has the added benefit of making the course site easier for everyone to use.

You can find additional information in Principals and Practices for Online Course Development course at WSSU for guidance. This document will be provided to you at the beginning of the development process.

  • Set up and manage discussion boards, chats, journals, blogs, wikis and groups to facilitate student interaction and empower them to communicate effectively;
  • Make edits and modifications to your course site; 
  • Create/refine summative and formative assessment techniques.  

Communicating and Collaborating

In an active learning environment, whether it is online or face-to-face, the student is the center of the process. Rather than watching a video or listening to a lecture, active learning techniques seek to encourage students to work on projects collaboratively. Instructors often struggle to add interaction to a discussion board or wiki. Online discussions can go beyond just asking a single question and having a single student respond to a classmate. Promoting Collaborative Learning in Online Courses from Faculty Focus reviews an article that recommends making sure every group member knows their role in the group and asks students to utilize online discussion boards to collaboratively create a set of expected group rules.

Please review the materials available through Academic Technologies’ Blackboard 9.1 communicating and collaborating link to enhance your knowledge about discussion boards, managing group work, creating blogs, journals and wikis. 

Assessing Learners 

There is an assortment of evaluation options offered through the Blackboard 9.1 Grade Center. To view tutorials, please visit Academic Technologies’ Blackboard 9.1 Grade Center  tutorial to learn more about the creation of tests, surveys, test pools and assignments. Additionally, faculty can learn more about how to deter plagiarism via the Safe Assignment tutorial.

During this step, AT, CETL and an expert content reviewer identified by the faculty member will conduct separate reviews of the course production site. The faculty course developer will receive rubrics at the beginning of the development process which will outline expectations of all three independent evaluators. Feedback from reviewers is evaluated and incorporated by the faculty member prior to final course approval.

The faculty course developer will receive e-mail notification from the CETL Director or a departmental designee when all phases of the evaluation process are complete. The faculty course developer and the department chair will receive a short e-mail summarizing suggested changes to the online course. This provides transparency about the process so that department curriculum committees can institute suggestions in face-to-face versions of the course if applicable or necessary.

Each semester, the WSSU Registrar will receive notification about course approvals and the course will be added to the Online Course Listing featured on the WSSU  Distance Learning website.  CETL will notify AT approximately eight weeks in advance of the semester that the course is being offered.  AT will then transfer the production course site into a course shell (via Blackboard) for the semester that the course is being taught.

Notification of course approval will be provided to the faculty member, registrar, and administrators. The faculty member should plan to teach the course within two semesters of approval. Your course is ready for delivery! It is suggested that the course be offered within two semesters of development. The faculty developer should negotiate scheduling with the department chair after receipt of e-mail notification of course approval. Faculty members are encouraged to engage in continuous assessment after the course approval process is complete. They can set up an appointment with a CETL faculty development specialist after the first semester of online delivery to gauge whether pedagogical goals have been met through the vantage point of both the students and instructor. Ongoing pedagogical and technical guidance is available to all WSSU faculty.

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601 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive

Winston-Salem, NC 27110

Phone: (336) 750-2000

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