Online/Distance Ed Course Design

Developing a quality course takes time.  Once departmental approval and funding for course development have been secured, the typical amount of time it takes to develop a new online course is 6 to 9 months.  UNC Charlotte subscribes to Quality Matters (QM), a program that provides guidance and best practices in designing online courses.  Development of Distance Education courses follows the QM rubric.

The Office of Distance Education supports course development, funding, course evaluation, marketing, management of enrollment, and all administrative matters related to distance education courses.

The Center for Teaching and Learning partners with faculty in all aspects of instructional design and development for distance education courses, including the Quality Matters review process.

The Office of Audiovisual Integration and Support for Learning Environments supports the production of educational media.


01: PROPOSAL (2 weeks)

Step 1:
Course Approval


Instructors who want to design and develop a distance education course should consult with their department chair who can guide them through the process of having a course approved.

Department Chair

Step 2:
Funding Development


Once a course has been approved, the department chair should contact the Office of Distance Education to discuss funding course development.  If funding is available, the Office of Distance Education will generate an Online Course Development Agreement that includes the timeline for development, compensation, and course use. 


Office of Distance Education

02: CREATION (24 weeks)

Step 3:
Initial Project Planning


Gather materials, research other relevant online courses, form project team, create development schedule.

Center for Teaching and Learning

Step 4:
Course Design


Successful online courses start with planning for overall design and outcomes.  Defining course goals and learning objectives will allow you to develop the most suitable design for your online course.  This step involves defining content sequencing, choosing instructional strategies, and course layout.  You will also develop a course management plan to address workflow for all the tasks of your course.


UNC Charlotte subscribes to Quality Matters that provides a framework for online course design.  The design process is guided by principles of the Quality Matters framework.

Center for Teaching and Learning

Quality Matters: Undergo Design Your Online Course Training/Orientation

Step 5:
Develop Course


This step includes developing course content, writing activities and assessments, recording videos, and writing the course policies.  In addition to the development and production of course material (web, videos, multimedia tutorials, ebook content, external online resources, etc.), this step includes consideration of accessibility and copyright.


Center for Teaching and Learning

Quality Matters: Complete Course Worksheet; Complete Self-Reflection; Submit Course for Peer Review

Step 6:
Finalize Course


This essential step provides a process for checking the course in the Learning Management System and for initiating the Quality Matters course review.


The Office of Distance Education manages getting your course in Banner, publicizing your course, and getting it listed with the UNC Online exchange.


Center for Teaching and Learning

03: INSTRUCTION (15 weeks)

Step 7:
Deliver Course


You are not alone when you begin delivering your course!


Ongoing instructional design guidance is available through CTL Instructional Designers.  Technical support is available from the ITS HelpDesk. 


  • Distance Ed FAQs for Instructors:
  • Distance Ed FAQs for Students:


Center for Teaching and Learning

ITS Help Desk


Step 8:
Review and Refine


This step provides an opportunity for faculty to review their course evaluations, reflect on the course, and work with an instructional designer to redesign as needed.


Distance Education oversees student evaluations and assessments. 


CTL advises on SOTL research opportunities.


Office of Distance Education

Center for Teaching and Learning

Quality Matters: Submit course to reviewers for certification.