online course format

The same phenomenon is at work in digital media. Rather than simply transposing a course, you have to rethink how the material is delivered. You must properly understand digital use cases in order to create a dynamic, interactive course with content that will engage students. Properly structuring your course is essential for achieving these goals.

When designing a course, 3 different modules can be used: attended classes, eLearning modules, or webinars. If eLearning modules or webinars are used, the course can be considered “digital”. However, it is the number and structure of these different modules that will determine the overall course format; an online training course can certainly include classroom sessions as well.

Even in the digital era, teaching objectives remain unchanged – at the end of the course, students must have acquired a certain number of pre-defined skills or concepts. To efficiently digitize content, the challenge consists in identifying essential key topics and breaking them into teaching blocks. Each topic and related sub-topics will result in a training module chosen from 3 types as described above.

1. 100% Online Learning

Online learning can be asynchronous[1] or synchronous and consist of 2 types of modules: eLearning and webinars.

An online-only course can vary greatly in terms of length, weekly workload, and, ultimately, the number of course modules. On average, a course lasts 1 to 3 weeks, with 30 minutes to 1 hour of weekly coursework. If the instructor does not want to work synchronously, a typical course will consist of 2 to 3 eLearning modules per week. Each module lasts on average 15 minutes and a maximum of 30 minutes. The second-to-last module is used for an exam made up of various questions, with a certificate being awarded if a minimum score is reached. The last module is reserved for gathering feedback and for discussing course topics in a more general setting. If the instructor wants to add webinar modules to the course, they generally take place every 2 weeks and last 1 hour.

It is certainly possible to create longer courses or modules, but the risk of losing student engagement increases proportionally. Your content is fighting for your audience’s attention alongside the whole of the internet. Student’s are constantly tempted to open a new browser tab and check out what is happening on Facebook or YouTube. Keep courses short and punchy, that is your best weapon.

Tips And Tricks

If you transpose traditional content into digital content, 1 classroom hour is generally equivalent to a 10 to 20 minute eLearning module. It is important to focus on key points and essential knowledge.

Charts: Connection loss based on course size, 2nd graph based on the module size (source: 360L Research Institute) / Credit: 360Learning

An average eLearning module consists of ten activities: 5 or 6 documents, 3 or 4 questions, and a course outline. An eLearning exam module generally uses a document or outline followed by 15 to 20 questions. The document should explain the exam format and contain any needed context or instructions. Questions should be a mix of traditional and more playful formats.

Example structure for an online-only course / Credit: 360Learning

2. Blended Learning

In a blended learning course, also known as “hybrid” or “mixed-mode” courses, eLearning modules and webinars are paired with traditional classroom sessions. With this combination, students benefit from the best of both worlds. During class, the instructor focuses on practical exercises including case studies, situational exercises, role-playing, and one-to-one explanations. Online modules reinforce theoretical topics and evaluate comprehension levels to generate statistics. Webinars allow students to ask questions and are ideal for clarifying specific topics.

Blended learning courses also vary greatly in length and intensity. On average, courses last 2 to 3 weeks and consist of the following: 2 eLearning modules per week, 1 face-to-face class per week (usually between the 2 eLearning modules), and a webinar half-way through the course, more if attended classes are canceled. As with online-only training, the second-to-last eLearning module is typically used to evaluate the knowledge acquired throughout the course. The same goes for the last module, used to gather feedback and discuss the course topic in a more general setting. As opposed to an online-only course, the first module of an eLearning course can also be used for an assessment. The added value of blended learning is being able to show the “before and after” effect and demonstrate what core knowledge was acquired throughout the course.

Tips And Tricks

Be aware that all blended learning courses contain at least 1 attended class.

eLearning modules are structured the same as they are for online-only courses.

Example structure for a blended learning course / Credit: 360Learning

3. External MOOCS

As with blended learning courses, external MOOCs can be composed of different types of modules, although attended classes are optional. MOOCs, however, require a specific set-up that make them unique. They last on average 4 weeks, with 1 to 2 hours of weekly coursework. eLearning modules are used for teaching core topics and for evaluating acquired knowledge at the end of each module. Two eLearning modules, one halfway through the MOOC and one at the end, are used for exams. Webinars, called Hangouts or LiveStreams, are mainly used for interviewing guest speakers or for Question and Answer sessions with the instructor. Attended classes, called Meetups, are designed to generate participation and discussion amongst MOOC attendees. Meetups can be organized by the educator or by participants themselves.

Concretely, an external MOOC generally consists of 2 eLearning modules per week, 1 to 2 Meetups, and 1 to 2 Hangouts. MOOC content consists mainly of videos; this is one of their defining characteristics. The eLearning module will therefore be comprised mostly of (optional) audiovisual material and 2 to 3 questions to validate acquired knowledge. At most, they are composed of 10 to 15 activities.

Upon completion of an external MOOC, a certificate is awarded. It is generated automatically by the platform and contains a unique ID number that can be verified by an employer. This certificate serves as proof that the MOOC was completed and that minimal exam scores were obtained.

Example structure for an external MOOC / Credit: 360Learning

4. Internal MOOCS

As with external MOOCs, internal MOOCS can be composed of different modules and have a very similar structure overall. The differences are found in course length and the public they address. Whereas external MOOCs target all users, internal MOOCs target smaller, niche audiences. They generally aim to align employee skills with market needs and industry standards. Internal MOOCS use the same teaching methods as external MOOCs but apply them in a closed environment, with business objectives. They are often presented in groups because of their multitude.

They should not last longer than 1 or 2 weeks. Each training module should be short, on average 5 to 15 minutes. It is better to produce more, shorter, internal MOOCs, than fewer, longer courses.

Example structure for an internal MOOC / Credit: 360Learning


The Small Private Online Course, or SPOC, appeared shortly after the MOOC and has a very similar structure. They also last on average 4 weeks, with 1 to 3 hours of weekly coursework.

What characterizes a SPOC?

  • Each SPOC has a limited number of participants, on average 50. As a result, there may be multiple sessions of the same SPOC per year.
  • Each participant is coached daily, either in-class or via LMS. During the course, all participants work on an ongoing project, either individually or in groups. For example, during a course studying new tools for improving productivity, students could be asked to identify daily tasks that are unproductive and suggest how the new tools / software could improve the situation.

These specificities require a slightly different course structure, focused on individual coaching and overseeing projects. Attended classes and webinars are used to monitor projects and take place more frequently, on average once a week. As with MOOCs, SPOCs are composed mainly of audiovisual content and 2 or 3 assessment questions. They contain at most 10 to 15 activities. Ultimately, SPOCs are slightly more intense for students than other formats.

Example structure for a SPOC / Credit: 360Learning

If you want to learn more about designing, producing, distributing, and hosting online courses, download the eBook Training In An Online World.


  1. Synchronous learning requires that individuals be present at the same time, either in person or online. For example, during a webinar or classroom session. Asynchronous modules are available at any time, you do not have to be in a specific place at a given time. For example, training videos.

Your course should deliver your students to the main outcome or transformation in the simplest and quickest way possible.

Don’t be tempted to add in everything you know – it will probably make your course too long, jumbled and lacking in focus.

Choose An Online Course Format

There are three main formats that you could use as a basis for your online course structure:

1) A step by step program

2) A week by week program

3) A reference course

1) A Step By Step Program

This is probably the most common online course format and it works well in taking your students on a clear step by step journey from where they are now to where they want to be.

Each step builds on the previous one, working in a logical sequence towards the end, where the goal is accomplished.

For a short entry-level course, you probably want to focus on just 3-5 key steps or modules that will make up the backbone of your course. Each module or step will then contain a number of lessons within it that teach the actual content.

Breaking it up into a handful of key modules is just a simple way for your students to recognise the main stages they’ll move through as they reach their outcome.

To arrive at an outline of these steps, you can either:

1) start with the main outcome of the course and work your way backwards through the steps needed to get there

       or if you prefer:

2) imagine your former self before you gained the knowledge you now have, and then plot out the key steps you have taken to get to where you are today.

An Example…

For example, the course my company created about how to grow mushrooms on coffee waste has the following 5 modules (key course steps):

1) The Big Idea – let nature do the work (this is a kind of introductory module)

2) Meet the Mushrooms – the original recyclers (laying the foundational knowledge about how mushrooms are cultivated)

3) Get Growing (this is the meat of the course where we cover a step-by-step process for how to grow mushrooms on coffee waste)

4) Caring For The Growing Cycle (this follows the next steps of the process on through to the final result – harvesting your mushrooms)

5) Help I’m growing mould – the troubleshooting module (this covers all the most likely problems people may encounter along the way and how to rectify them)

By the end of the course, people know how to grow mushrooms on coffee.

They understand the theory and concepts behind it, and they have the practical knowledge and steps they need to implement it.

They can keep coming back and dipping into the troubleshooting module if or when they have a specific problem that arises from their growing.

The exact structure will be different for each course depending on the content – this is just an example to help you understand how a short course might be set out.

For each key step in your course outline, you should then draft the key micro-steps or points to include, so that when you come to actually make the course material, you just have to follow this framework, rather than making it up as you go along.

2) A Week By Week Program

This is actually pretty similar to the step by step course structure – the main difference is just that your course is organised over a specific time scale, with modules and lessons for each given week of the program.

For example, you might have an 8 week meditation course or a 4 week web design course.

It enables you to teach a process that will take a specific amount of time to learn or complete, and gives your students a chance to carry out tasks each week alongside.

It’s a great way to deliver a specific goal in a specific amount of time, and can help you in working out the progression your students will need to go through to get from A to B.

This approach doesn’t work so well if what you are teaching is more conceptual.

Teaching how to build a better connection with your child would lend itself more to a step by step course for example, where you walk your students through a set of ideas that they need to learn.

3) A Reference Course

Any course that doesn’t easily fit into either a step by step program or a week by week structure will probably fall under this category.

A reference course is pretty much exactly what it’s name suggests. It is a collection of knowledge and information bundled neatly together and well organised, which people can refer to relevent sections of whenever they wish/need.

Often the info in a reference course might already be out there for free on the internet, but in a disorganised and low quality way.

By pulling it all together in one place and teaching it in a clear way, you create real value and help to solve people’s problems.

Learn Scrivener Fast by Joseph Michael is a great example of this type of course. Joseph’s course is a complete resource of tutorials and tips for how to get the most from the excellent (but difficult to use) writing software, Scrivener.

He now makes a full time income from his course – proving just how much people value having complete guides and resources to quickly and easily refer to.

If you are considering teaching online or are looking for ideas to freshen-up your current online course, you have come to the right resource. Designing for the online environment presents unique challenges, but it also opens a world of exciting possibilities for engaging students in their learning. Online education is not an “alternative” to traditional classroom learning. According to a 10 year study conducted by the Online Learning Consortium, 6.7 million students have taken at least one online course and roughly thirty-two percent of all higher-education students now take at least one online course during their educational career. And these numbers continue to rise. But despite more interest (from students and academic leaders) and enrollment in the online format, student success rates in online classes lags behind their face-to-face counterparts. So, we cannot afford to ignore the online format, but how do we design effectively for the unique teaching and learning challenges it presents?

Start with the learning; moving from solutions to possibilities!

It is common when transitioning to the online environment to start with the question, “how can I do this online?” If we approach it from this standpoint, we can get stuck looking for ways to mimic or retrofit face-to-face activities. This can be a frustrating and even disappointing solution goose chase. A more productive approach is to start with the question, “what do my students need to learn?”. Using the learning as the focal point, you can more easily navigate the amazing possibilities presented by the online environment.

The the most effective teaching principles apply regardless of modality and often stand the test of time. Consider the principles identified by 50 years of research by A. Chickering and  Z. Gamson in the “Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education.” (AAHE Bulletin, March 1987):

  • encourage faculty-to-student interaction
  • encourage student-to-student interaction
  • promote active learning
  • communicate high expectations
  • facilitate time on task
  • provide rich, rapid feedback
  • respect diverse learning

Although the study was conducted in 1987, these principles identified are amongst the most frequently referenced by online course designers as best practices. Keep these strategies in mind as you examine and approach your course design.

Actualizing Best Practice

Before you start! Collect all the materials you use to teach your course.

Organization is key to any project. Gather all the resources from previous courses you have taught, content and instructional materials you have researched or picked-up from colleagues, etc.. Put them in a format/file and store in a way you can easily access (computer, online or USB Drive). This includes your syllabi, notes, textbook, lectures, hand-outs, quizzes, exams, assignments/papers/projects, online resources, journal articles, and any other pertinent resources. Ask your department or colleagues for resources specific to your subject area. Sample syllabi, lessons and even course templates may be available to get you started. Taking the time to organize up front will save you lots of time later, so don’t skip this critical part of the process.

Establish a timeframe and goals.

Designing a quality course takes time. You need to dedicate constructive and uninterrupted time to plan, design and build. How long it takes is a function of where you are starting (new design or redesign) and your other obligations (work, family, etc.). To ensure your success, establish a realistic timeframe and set goals/benchmarks and deadlines.

In Maricopa there are “course level” competencies that are designed and written by faculty at the district level through the Instructional Council for each discipline. Course competencies are what is required to be covered and taught in every course. For course design and mapping, especially online, a faculty member designs activities, assessments, lectures, etc. to teach those competencies….along the way students will learn incrementally – those are unit or module level learning objectives. These help students understand what they will be learning, how all the activities and assignments help them learn, and then in the end see where they have been.

Design Practice #1: Course Mapping 

Access and review the most current course competencies on the MCCCD Curriculum & Transfer website.

  1. Which competencies will be threaded throughout the entire course?
  2. Cluster competencies that are relatable. Sequence these clusters into a logical order based on your background knowledge and experiences in the discipline. Module/unit duration is flexible based on the depth of knowledge students might acquire with each topic.
  3. What is the theme of each competency cluster? Choose 5-7 units for your course that encompass the competency clusters.
mapping demo competency "chunking"

Design Practice #2: Module Map (Key Concepts, Activities, Resources, Vocabulary, and Assessment)

Access and review the most current course outline on the MCCCD Curriculum & Transfer website.

  1. Select a module/unit (competency cluster). Which key concepts will be emphasized in the course design?
  2. For each key concept, which activities and resources will you integrate for students to make-meaning of course content?
  3. Which academic and technical (discipline-specific) terms will you emphasize in each module/unit?

Module Map Planning Example

Sample QM Module Map

Map Outline

Concept Map

mapping demo "chunking" in concept map form

Plan for interaction! Make sure your course is rich in opportunities for students to engage with the content, with you and with each other. This means creating diverse activities like discussions, group work, case studies and collaborative problem-solving. Also, be sure to select resources that are relevant and present a variety of viewpoints and meet different learning styles. Consider multimedia, periodicals, web resources, etc.

Tip: Don’t get too caught up in specifics. This map should be an outline of the unit NOT the individual lessons.

University of Michigan, Center for Research on Teaching & Learning; Active Learning Strategies

North Carolina Index of Learning Styles Questionnaire

Design Practice #3: Module Level Learning Objectives

Using Course Competencies, pick a module and write learning objectives for one or more module/unit.


  • Does it begin with an action statement?
  • Is it clean and direct?
  • Does it express what we can expect students to be able to do?
  • Is it clear what we mean?
  • Does it reflect the essence of the cluster?

Creating Learning Objectives

It is essential to build measurable and clear objectives that outline what is expected of the learner. These objectives will make it easy to align the rest of your course and will serve to communicate learning expectations to students.

Using Blooms Taxonomy to find Measurable Verbs – Benjamin Bloom and a committee of colleagues identified three domains of learning and objectives can be written for any type of learning (Skills, Knowledge and Attitude). Bloom, and later Anderson & Krathwohl, also outlined categories of thinking. Learning objectives should encourage students to reach higher orders of thinking through careful scaffolding of concepts (structuring learning to build on prior concept knowledge). Using actionable verbs you can create objectives that target learning within these learning types and categories. It is very important that these verbs are measurable so that you can assess whether students understood the concept(s). For example:

Non-measurable verbs: understood, appreciate, learn.

Measurable verbs: explain, discuss, compare, etc.

ABCD Method – An easy framework for creating learning objectives is the A.B.C.D. method. This stands for Audience, Behavior, Condition and Degree. Learning objectives that contain each of these elements will clearly outline the learning that is to be achieved after completing each module.

Watch this brief video to learn more.

Tip: Each module should have approximately 3-5 learning objectives. If you have more, your objectives may be too task oriented or your module theme could be too broad.


Use this Blooms Taxonomy Levels Guide to find verbs for your learning objectives. This handy spreadsheet also includes ideas for assignments, activities and assessments that align with these verbs.

Penn State University offers a wonderful interactive tutorial to create objectives according to the ABCD method.

Use the University of Central Florida Objective Builder to create measurable objectives according to the ABCD method.

Design Practice #4: Align your module (activities, assignments, materials/technology and assessments) to the objectives.

We all love our course content! As a result, it is tempting to throw everything into your course in an effort to spark that same love in the heart of your students. But how do students know what is important and essential to their learning? How do we help them focus?

Achieving Alignment through a Conceptual Framework

Using the learning objectives you can become more selective in what you include in your course. This selection process is known as alignment. Alignment occurs when the course component (activity, assignment, material, technology and/or assessment) will help the student meet the learning objectives. To get started, build a Conceptual Framework for each module. In this framework outline the learning by identifying the course competencies and learning objectives for the module. Then review the course components (each piece of your module that you identified in the module map process) and see if they fit (align), i.e. contribute to the student achieving the stated learning objective. If a component does not align you need to either change the objective, change the course component or if it is essential to keep this non-aligned component, make sure that it is clearly identified as supplemental.

Tip: Make sure that your framework is as detailed as possible. This framework can be used to provide learners with an overview of each unit that includes what they are to learn (competencies/objectives), with what (activity, assignment, material, technology and/or assessment) and where (in class or online). As an option, you can add a sequence and timeframe to your framework and you have outlined a complete module schedule for your students!

Resources: Use the Module Conceptual Framework Form for a course to check your module alignment.

Design Practice #5: Assessment for Learning

You are almost ready to start putting your course online! But before you do, you need to consider how you will assess student learning. Assessment is more than just tests, quizzes and final projects. Truly “informative” assessment helps students measure their progress and helps to guide your instruction. How will you embed informal and formal assessments for students to demonstrate understanding of major course concepts?

Summative and Formative

Assessments come in two varieties, summative and formative. Summative Assessment evaluates student learning, skill and academic achievement at the end of a defined instructional period (i.e. project, unit, course, semester, etc.). Formative Assessments monitor student learning through formal and informal processes to gather evidence to improve learning (i.e. guiding learning from concept to concept, activity to activity and lesson to lesson; identifying clarifications and misconceptions before moving on to the next concept).

C.A.T.s (Classroom Assessment Techniques)

One highly effective type of Formative Assessment is called a C.A.T. (Classroom Assessment Technique). These serve two main purposes, 1) assesses how well your students are learning the content and 2) provides invaluable feedback to guide instruction. C.A.T.s also serve to regularly check that your students are participating and comprehending the content before they get to a Summative Assessment. Regular and purposeful use of C.A.T.s allows the learner to apply and practice what is taught and keeps them engaged in the course more frequently. These opportunities directly contribute to student success and retention.

Tip: Well designed C.A.T.s include a planning, implementing and responding phase.


A rubric is a coherent set of criteria for students’ work that includes descriptions of levels of performance quality on the criteria. The main purpose of rubrics is to assess performances (Brookhart, 2013).

Explore four types of rubrics that you might use to assess assignments in your course. These teacher-created rubrics provide an objective framework to assignments that may lend to subjective review. Select a rubric type that fits your instructional style.

If you are assessing MCC’s 4Cs in addition to grading the assignment, import the scoring guidelines into your course and attach the scoring guideline descriptors to your rubric.

Rubric Templates to Import into Your Canvas Course

  • Step 1: Download the Canvas Export Package for the template.
    • Export Package – Note: Do not rename or unzip this package file.
  • Step 2: Go to the course you want to import the rubrics into and access the settings from the course navigation.
  • Step 3: Select the “Import Content into this Course” option from the right-side menu.
  • Step 4: From the Content Type menu select “Canvas Course Export Package”.
  • Step 5: Choose a file and locate the template export package. Note: The file extension will end with .imscc.
  • Step 6: Choose the “Select specific content” radial option.
  • Step 7: Ignore the date settings and select Import.
  • Step 8: When the file has run, choose the Select Content option.
  • Step 9: Under the Rubrics area select each rubric type. Leave all other items unchecked.
  • Step 10: Click the Select Content button.

Desired Characteristics of Criteria/Descriptors for Rubrics

  • Appropriate: Represents a competency or learning outcome
  • Definable: Clear to the instructor and student
  • Observable: Quality can be seen or heard
  • Distinct from one another: Each criterion identifies a separate aspect of the learning outcome
  • Complete: All criteria together describe the whole of the learning outcome
  • Able to support descriptions along a continuumEach criterion can be described over a range of performance levels

Ready. Set. GO! Start building your course.

Congratulations the hard work is done! No really, it is! You have mapped your course and your modules, created measurable objectives, aligned all your course components (activities, assignment, materials/technology and assessments) and designed meaningful and varied assessments. So now what? You are ready to put your course online! Let’s look at strategies to purposefully approach this process.

Strategy 1: Look at Sample Courses

Examine other online courses to see the features and design elements that you think serve your learning goals. Most faculty like to start by viewing a course in their own discipline, but don’t stop there. You’ll get a wealth design ideas from courses regardless of the subject area. Good design is not content specific.

MCC Courses

MCC provides previews a sampling of online classes at our eLearning Site. This is a great place to start.

Canvas Courses

Canvas is our Learning Management System (LMS) for MCCCD. View courses from a variety of colleges that use our LMS Canvas in the Canvas Catalog. For even more course samples using Canvas explore by feature.

Open Source Courses

Go beyond Canvas to discover even more amazing course designs.

  • Merlot provides peer reviewed online teaching and learning materials.
  • edEx Courses are made available by the Harvard Extension School’s Open Learning Initiative. Featuring Harvard faculty, the noncredit courses are open to the public. You do not need to register to view the lecture videos.
  • The MIT Open Courseware Initiative makes MIT course materials that are used in the teaching of almost all undergraduate and graduate subjects available on the web, free of charge, to any user anywhere in the world.

Strategy 2: Identify Quality & Aligned Content Materials

You may want to find additional resources to supplement your own content. The key is make sure that all of your content (regardless of source) aligns with the learning objectives as outlined in Step 3.

Open Educational Resources & the Creative Commons

Open Educational Resources (OER) are freely accessible, open licensed, teaching and learning materials. There are worldwide repositories for the sharing and use of OER. Materials are available in almost any subject area and can include a single image, assignment or activity OR a full textbook and even an entire course.

OER Commons

Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources

Creative Commons resources are less specific and include a variety of resources (educational in purpose or not) that can be used under specific more open licensing arrangements than traditional copyright process. Items include clip art, images, videos, music and more.

Find CC-licensed Works 

Publisher Content

Publishers often create online courses and course materials that go with your textbook.  Talk to your publisher to receive access to the content. Often, you can select the materials and customize it to reach your learning objectives.

Strategy 3: Going beyond Accessibility; Engage in Universal Design

Regardless of where you get your content from, it needs to be accessible. But more than that, your content needs to be Universal. Universal Design or UDL is a set of best practices to help instructors meet the needs of all learners. From designing pages that can be read by mobile devices to screen readers, UDL is about considering the wide diversity of learner needs, not just abilities.

MCC Center for Teaching & Learning, Creating Accessible Course Materials

Strategy 4: Using Canvas

Canvas is the MCCCD adopted Learning Management System (LMS). It is called a learning management system because the focus is on the facilitation of learning, not on the storage of content. You will find that Canvas provides wonderful opportunities to enrich the online learning environment, including a built-in multimedia tool, the Edu Apps Center, quizzes, discussions, group and peer review, collaborative documents and so much more!

Canvas is designed to support modules! So, all that hard work you have done mapping out each of your learning units will pay off now. To get started with Canvas take advantage of one of the many opportunities to learn how the system works.

Canvas Instructor Orientation that will walk you through the basics of setting up a new course in Canvas. To enroll, simply click on the “Join this course” button on the Course Home Page. There is no facilitator, but it is a good series of self exercises.

The Canvas Guides (software developer guides) cover all major features of Canvas by question topic. They are easy to navigate and mostly image-based walk thru demonstrations of how to use a particular feature.

The MCC CTL Getting Started with Canvas in 10 Steps Guide is basic primer to get a first time user off the ground.

The MCC Center for Teaching and Learning also offers in-person training for teaching with Canvas. Please visit our calendar for information on upcoming learning opportunities. Stay up-to-date with all things Canvas by visiting the CTL LMS News.

Resources for Students – If you are looking for Canvas Guides to assist your students, point them to the Canvas Tutorials and 101 Course. This course will walk students through all the major features of Canvas making it easy for you to focus on teaching, rather than troubleshooting technology and navigation.

Strategy 5: Getting Started Module

MCC has created a “start here” template module for instructors to import into their courses. Once you bring template in to your Canvas course, you can modify it to meet your specific needs. Instructions on how to import the template are included within the resource.

  • Step 1: Download the Canvas Export Package for the template.
    • Export Package :
      Note: Do not rename or unzip this package file.
  • Step 2: Go to the course you want to import the module to and access the settings from the course navigation.
  • Step 3: Select the “Import Content into this Course” option from the right-side menu.
  • Step 4: From the Content Type menu select “Canvas Course Export Package”.
  • Step 5: Choose a file and locate the template export package. Note: The file extension will end with .imscc.
  • Step 6: Choose the “Select specific content” radial option.
  • Step 7: Ignore the date settings and select Import.
  • Step 8: When the file has run, choose the Select Content option.
  • Step 9: Under the Modules area select the Getting Started Module. Leave all other items unchecked.
  • Step 10: Click the Select Content button.

Final Thoughts

Relax! You won’t be creating the perfect online course, at least not the first time you teach it. It takes teaching an online course a few semesters to improve and enhance it. Continue to experiment with new approaches, refining your teaching according to your learning objectives and the feedback of your students. We highly recommend including a Course Survey in your final module so that you can collect valuable data and insights from the student perspective on the design, content and delivery of your course. Give yourself permission to be a student too – to learn over time. This guide will help you create a very good online course to start with. You can improve it from there!

Design + Delivery = Learning

Even a well-designed course can fall short without purposeful delivery throughout the course. Delivery includes pacing, feedback, communication, monitoring and adjusting instruction, etc.. that will actively engage and support the diverse learner needs. Continue your professional development by researching and exploring resources on best practices on instructional delivery.

Course Format Descriptions

Face-to-Face Course

In a face-to-face course 100% of the course is conducted on campus in the traditional classroom/lab with an instructor.

Students may need to access online materials, such as assignments, discussion, or testing, as part of their coursework.

Online Course

In an online course 100% of the course is conducted online and does not meet in person.

Participation in regular online instructional activities is required. However, students are not required to attend class on campus or attend online meetings held at specific times.

The course syllabus and instructional materials are provided online.

Students may be required to complete exams in a supervised setting.

A computer, high-speed internet, web camera, and microphone are needed for Online courses.

Is Online Learning Right for You?

Hybrid Course

In a hybrid course students attend face-to-face meetings on campus as listed on the course schedule and regularly participate in online instructional activities.

The course syllabus and instructional materials are provided online.

Exams may be on-site and proctored during the scheduled class meeting times.

A computer, high-speed internet, web camera, and microphone are needed for Hybrid courses.

Web-Live Course

In a Web-Live course students are required to attend class through interactive video conferencing at designated days and times according to the course schedule. Students are not required to come to campus for class meetings.

The course syllabus and instructional materials are provided online.

A computer, high-speed internet, web camera, and microphone are needed for Web-Live courses.

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