Course Life Cycle

Structuring content

How can I make, find, and use online resources?

Your content provides the necessary information and tools that students need to complete activities and reach learning outcomes. While it can be easy to find and add more and more content to an online course, it’s important to ensure that content supports the learning outcomes you first identified. Canvas facilitates the inclusion of a variety of content types, from simple text and images on a page, to lectures, eTexts, and interactive content. A variety of content types can be pulled into a module and delivered to students as a seamless experience. For assistance in creating and curating content for your online course, visit your campus teaching center (which regularly hold workshops related to building courses in Canvas) or browse Canvas content help documents in the IU Knowledge Base. It may also be helpful to consult with colleagues or browse open educational resources in Canvas Commons.

By immersing students in online material instead of in a classroom, my classroom and lab activities that were built around a lot of students have become a lot of activities built around a single student. Add in group experimental space, now everyone is doing—students can’t passively observe as their peers take care of it for them.

Joung Yeon “JY” Kim, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Accounting, School of Business, IU Kokomo

Refining your course

What can I do to be more innovative?

The digital classroom has no walls. Students can move quickly from a prompt or question to real-world, dynamic resources to help them problem solve. They can reach out to each other easily to collaborate and they can access experts in the discipline in ways that were not feasible in the past. Innovation can be as simple as directing students to reach into the Internet to solve case studies with real data found online (such as current geological or CDC data) or as complex as providing interactive learning objects that mimic expensive equipment that students would otherwise be unable to afford. At IU, faculty have delivered virtual field trips, online circuit simulations, searchable databases for clinical case studies, virtual interview and counseling practice, online interactives that allow students to test hypotheses, “choose your own adventure” learning paths, and many more innovations that allow students to dive into the content and take ownership of their own learning. Innovation should always be closely tied to your learning outcomes; think about what you would really like your students to be able to do in a perfect world, then imagine how technology can move them out of a physical room where you deliver the content and into a complex, global environment where they explore, investigate, and evaluate the content and report back to you for guidance.

What can I do to improve existing online courses?

IU Online courses represent faculty expertise and passion across diverse disciplines, schools, and campuses. While every course is different because it reflects the individual personality and scholarly focus of the professor teaching it, we also look for a consistent level of quality.

To this end, some schools and departments have established an internal review process intended to ensure that all their online courses live up to the school or department’s academic reputation, as well as to showcase innovations and inspire all their faculty to engage more deeply in the online space.

Informal review processes have included school or department internal peer reviews, teaching center consultations, cross-discipline or cross-campus peer reviews, and “ongoing improvement” or “innovation” weeks in which faculty come together to set shared expectations, as well as mentor each other and share resources.

If you are interested in launching an informal review process at your school or department and would like guidance on how to do this, email or contact your campus teaching center.

IU also provides nationally recognized external tools to support online course and program quality.

It’s hard to understand the crippling limitations of a face-to-face course until you start developing an online course—you can be unapologetically online. Students can be immediately transported anywhere, the entire Internet is your textbook, and students can interact with the material in any way imaginable.

Ben Motz, Senior Lecturer and Director of Undergraduate Instruction, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, IU Bloomington