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Course Development

Course Development Services
Course Development Requirements
Content Storage
Course Completion/Approval


Faculty course designers may proceed with course development with the assistance of the Faculty Instructional Technology Center (FITC) staff and their assigned Online Faculty Mentor (OFM) after:

    • they have confirmed that the course currently exists at MTSU and has been approved by the Curriculum Committee or Graduate Council;
    • the course has not been previously designed for online or hybrid delivery;
    • the Course Proposal Form has been submitted and approved;
    • Course Syllabus (on required syllabus template) has been submitted to department chair and Distance Education Faculty Services;
    • have signed Course Development Agreement and routed for remaining signatures;
    • required D2L training is complete, and signed FITC Training Confirmation Form is on file in Distance Education Faculty Services (new course designers);
    • received access to a D2L development shell
    • Peer Review Form and Online/Hybrid Course Guidelines have been reviewed;
    • have met with their assigned Online Faculty Mentors to discuss course design (new course designers).

It is also highly recommended that, prior to development, course designers spend adequate time planning the design of their new course using resources described on the Planning section of this website.

Course Development Services

MTSU offers the following services to assist faculty course designers.

Instructional Design Specialist

First-time and experienced course designers are encouraged to discuss the design or redesign of their courses with MTSU Instructional Design Specialist, Paula Calahan. Paula is located in Room 348 of the James E. Walker Library in the Learning, Teaching and Innovative Technology Center, and may be reached at 615-494-7671 or at to schedule an appointment.

Faculty Instructional Technology Center (FITC)

The Faculty Instructional Technology Center (FITC) staff, located in the Telecommunications Building, is happy to instruct course designers on the use of various course development and instruction tools. Appointments may be made for one-on-one consultations by calling 904-8189. The FITC also offers workshops for which faculty may register

D2L course development shells are provided by the FITC following workshop registration, scheduling a one-on-one training session, or by completing the Request for Course Development Shell Form

Online Faculty Mentor (OFM)

An Online Faculty Mentor (OFM) is assigned to each course designer after the Course Proposal Form is received in Distance Education Faculty Services. OFMs serve as resources during course development, review, approval and initial course delivery/instruction. Course designers may request OFM expertise as often or as little as needed during these processes.

Course Development Requirements

Course designers should develop their new online or hybrid courses according to these requirements and guidelines.

MTSU Online/Hybrid Course Guidelines

All MTSU online and hybrid courses must be developed in accordance with the MTSU Online/Hybrid Course Guidelines, which have been approved by the MTSU Distance Education Committee.

Peer Review Form

The Peer Review Form serves several purposes in the course development, review and approval processes.

    • Course designers are encouraged to review and to use the Peer Review Form as a course development/redesign guide. This form contains the baseline elements required to complete an online/hybrid course. Incomplete courses are not accepted for peer review.
    • This form is used by the course designer to conduct a self-evaluation of the completed course.
    • The Peer Review Form is also used by the assigned Online Faculty Mentor (OFM) to conduct the peer review of the completed course.


PDF or HTML Content

Online and hybrid course designers are required to create content in, or transfer content from Word, PowerPoint, and/or Excel, to PDF or HTML, unless the course is dependent upon the use of such software. In D2L this may be accomplished by selecting "Add Single Topic".

"Word, PowerPoint, and Excel send security messages when linked to/from the Content area of D2L. Content that is translated to HTML or PDF opens up inside the D2L content frame instead of trying to pop up a new window or making the student deal with a security message." (If it is necessary to give students Word, PowerPoint, or Excel files, ITD suggests they link to these files from a drop box. Students with disabilities should not have problems accessing these files from a drop box either.)

    • The advantages of providing course content in HTML:
      • Security issues;
      • Avoid pop-up blockers which can pose problems for disabled students;
      • Smoother navigation within the course;
      • Avoid any problems associated with creation/readability of documents in various versions of Microsoft Word.


Student Authentication Requirements

To be in compliance with the Higher Education Opportunity Act and SACSCOC Policy and Principles of Accreditation, MTSU must "demonstrate that the student who registers in a distance or correspondence education course or program is the same student who participates in and completes the course or program and receives the credit by verifying the identity of a student who participates in class or coursework by using, at the option of the institution, methods such as (1) a secure login and pass code, (2) proctored examinations, and (3) new or other technologies and practices that are effective in verifying student identification."

This verification is accomplished by requiring the MTSU online student to:

1) use a secure login and pass code into the MTSU-supported Learning Management System, currently Desire2Learn (D2L) and/or;
2) sit for proctored examinations.

Instruction by Other Faculty

Department chairs may assign the instruction of approved online and hybrid courses to other professors. It is recommended that courses be designed accordingly.

Original Content

Development of original content is required in order to receive compensation. Students must be able to complete the course requirements and satisfy learning outcomes using the content within D2L without relying on a supplemental, external website.

Asynchronous Learning

MTSU online courses are to be designed for asynchronous learning. Students cannot be required to be on campus or online at specified dates/times, but may be given the opportunity to attend optional meetings.

Use of Supplemental/Publisher Websites

    • Publisher content, or other pre-produced content, may be utilized but should be thoughtfully integrated into the original course content produced by the developer.
    • The course must be designed so it can continue to run if a publisher's, or supplemental, site is down.
    • Instructors must be aware of publisher/supplemental site scheduled downtime especially during testing periods.
    • MTSU's ITD does not support nor provide archival capabilities for content posted to publisher/supplemental sites.
    • To satisfy requirements of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), student grades, and other personally identifiable information, must not be posted to personal websites.
    • Students should be notified of costs associated with the use of publisher/supplemental websites by posting the fees to RaiderNet semester schedules.


Course designers must create their online and hybrid courses to include the use of an MTSU-assigned email account—preferably within D2L. To comply with FERPA requirements (see section below), discussions regarding educational records between instructor and student must never take place outside an MTSU-assigned email account.

Student Communication and FERPA

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.

Per this Act, MTSU faculty must communicate with and provide course feedback (including grades) to their distance education students within an institutionally-assigned email account. Use of the MTSU email within D2L is preferred for online course instruction for archival and security purposes. However, distance instructors may respond to student emails received via the MTMail account.

Educational data (such as class schedule, grades, GPA, academic standing, test scores, academic transcripts, student employment, class lists, and email between the student and MTSU) and personally identifiable information (Social Security Number, driver's license number, account number, and credit or debit card number in association with the person's name or access code) must never be sent to or from a non-institutionally-assigned email account.

Content Storage

D2L Shared Content Repository Procedures

Lead designers are responsible for updating their online and hybrid courses and transferring the content to each sectional instructor's semester course shell. Sharing approved course content may be accomplished two ways:

    • by uploading course files from the Shared Content Repository and emailing the link to the instructor, or
    • by copying course content from the D2L development shell to the semester shell.

Currently, instructors can freely move their own material between courses to which they're assigned as "Instructor" using D2L's "Copy Components" function. When an instructor wants to share course materials with a colleague, however, the instructor must first request that the colleague be enrolled as an "Instructor" in the D2L course before the colleague can access, review, and copy the desired material. (Please see "Moving Course Content" section below.)

Use of the D2L Content Repository, however, offers a new method that permits the authoring instructor (aka "course designer/master instructor") to export the entirety of their D2L material for a given course into a single "course package" file using D2L's "Export Components" function, and place the course package into a network folder which can be accessed and downloaded via hyperlink by the colleague instructor. The colleague instructor would subsequently import the course package into their own course using D2L's "Import Components" function on their terms and time schedule.

In addition to the availability and accessibility advantages, this new method inherently provides the means to effectively manage online course curricula by designating course designers/master instructors for selected courses who can easily ensure the availability and currency of their respective master course packages.

To preserve intellectual property rights, instructors are, of course, not obligated to share their D2L course material and, hence, not required to implement this shared content method. In specific instances where D2L course material has been developed under contract with University College, or as directed by departments and equivalent organizations, this method would be mandatory to ensure availability and accessibility of the master course package. The FITC highly recommends this method for those instructors who simply want to share their course material easily and swiftly with their colleagues. For all other cases where an instructor just wants to copy D2L course material between their own courses, this method would not be applicable, and the instructor would continue to use the "Copy Components" function.

Moving Course Content

If the D2L Repository is not used to store online course content, faculty may use these instructions to move content from the development shell to the semester shell.

    • Open the blank course that you want to copy the course content into.
    • Click the Components link on the right side of the home page
    • Choose to copy from another org unit
    • Scroll down and choose the development shell that contains the course content you want to move.
    • The screen will refresh. Choose the Select All check box.
    • Click the next buttons at the bottom of the screen until you work through the wizard. When the button displays "done" go to the home page to review.

Course Completion/Approval

When the course is complete, refer to the Course Approval section for peer review and course approval instructions. Please keep in mind that incomplete courses are not peer reviewed. All course elements must be developed in order for students to complete all requirements and learning outcomes when the Online Faculty Mentor conducts the peer review. Course developers may refer to the Peer Review Form for baseline elements required for course approval.

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