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Course Redesign


Development Guidelines
D2L Training
Getting Started
Development Assistance
Course Redesign Requirements
Content Storage
Course Approval


MTSU Online and Hybrid Course Development Agreements run for 3-year terms. When these agreements expire, course designers are eligible for payment of a redesign stipend of $1,000, if they wish to renew their agreements and substantially (50% or more of the content) redesign their courses. If the original course developer does not wish to redesign the course or is unavailable, the department chair may assign a replacement. All redesigned courses are reviewed and approved using the same process that is used for new course design.

Please note: If a substantial redesign of an existing online or hybrid course is necessary prior to contract expiration due to textbook changes, or other extenuating circumstances, course designers can receive, with prior approval from Distance Education Faculty Services, the $1,000 redesign fee. Written requests for early redesign may be made to


Taking the time to plan the design of an online or hybrid course is critical to its success. At least two semesters should be allotted to plan and develop a new course. Please refer to the Course Completion Deadlines chart below to assist in planning your course development timeline.

Course Completion Deadlines

Semester Course to Be Offered Due Date for Peer Review
Summer and Fall March 1
Spring October 1


Please Note:

    • All course content should be complete and ready for the peer review by the dates in the chart above. Incomplete courses are not reviewed.
    • Compensation cannot be paid if the course redesign is completed prior to redesign agreement approval.
    • Online Faculty Mentors (OFMs) are assigned to each faculty member who is redesigning an existing online course, and the same review and approval processes used for new course development apply.

MTSU Instructional Design Specialist

First-time and experienced course designers are strongly 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. Please refer to the Planning section of this website for additional planning resources and information.

Development 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.

Desire2Learn (D2L) Training 

    • All online and hybrid course content is required to be developed for and accessed within the MTSU-supported learning management system currently Desire2Learn (D2L).
    • First-time faculty course designers are required to schedule a D2L one-on-one consultation or to register for a workshop conducted by the staff of the Faculty Instructional Technology Center (FITC) located in the Telecommunications Building on campus. Workshop attendance may be scheduled online. One-on-one consultation may be arranged by calling 615/904-8189.
    • Required Desire2Learn (D2L) training includes:
        • Introduction to D2L
        • Grading and Assessment
        • Communication Tools I – (Dropbox, Discussion Board, and Group Tool)
        • Communication Tools II – (Rubrics with a demonstration of the Competencies Tool)
        • Communication Tools III – (Email, Calendar, Chat, Blog, LiveRoom, Checklist, Classlist)
        • Turnitin (an educational suite providing faculty assistance with evaluating student written works and is now accessed through the Desire2Learn (D2L) dropbox tool.)
    • Experienced course designers are encouraged to discuss the design or redesign of their courses with FITC staff due to innovations in software/hardware and multimedia used in online course instruction.

D2L Course Shells

    • A D2L development shell is established upon registration for a workshop or before the first scheduled one-on-one consultation.
    • Faculty may use an existing D2L development shell during their training session(s).
    • Course designers may request a D2L development shell by completing a request form
    • Even though D2L shells are created for every semester course, semester shells should never be used for course creation. Course content may be lost if a semester shell is deleted.
    • Course content from a previous semester shell may be moved into a development shell for redesign. For instruction, the content is then moved to an active semester shell.

Instructions for moving content between D2L shells

    • 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.

Getting Started

Course Proposal

    • Complete the Online/Hybrid Course Proposal Form (one per course).
    • Submission of this form posts course information into the Distance Education course development database, and the form is automatically submitted to the department chair for development approval.
    • Submit a course syllabus (using the Syllabus Template) to the department chair and email one to Distance Education Faculty Services at The syllabus may be a draft.

Online and Hybrid Course Redesign Agreement

    • An Online or Hybrid Course Redesign Agreement is emailed to the course developer upon receipt of the online proposal form. The course designer should review, sign and forward to his/her department chair for approval as soon as possible.
    • The course developer cannot be compensated if the redesign agreement is not approved and on file in Distance Education Faculty Services prior to completion of course redesign.

Online Faculty Mentor Assignment

An Online Faculty Mentor (OFM) is assigned to the course designer upon receipt of the online proposal form to serve as a resource, as needed, and to conduct a peer review upon completion of course design.

Course Development Assistance

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

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

Course Redesign Requirements

Course developers should redesign their 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:

    • use a secure login and pass code into the MTSU-supported Learning Management System, currently Desire2Learn (D2L) and/or;
    • 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 their material 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.

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

Course developers may use these instructions to move course content from a D2L development shell to a semester shell:

    • Open the blank course that you want to copy the course content into.
    • Click the Import/Export/Copy Components link on the right side of the home page
    • Choose to copy from another org unit
    • Choose the development shell (or regular course) that contains the course content you want to move, from the list on the drop down menu.
    • 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 Approval Instructions

When the redesign of an online or hybrid course is complete, please follow these instructions for delivery approval. Please note: Online Faculty Mentors (OFMs) are not permitted to review incomplete courses.

    • Course Designer:
      • Completes and submits the Add A User Request Form  to add the assigned Online Faculty Mentor (OFM) and department chair/school director to the new course. ITD should inform the course designer when they are added.
      • Conducts a self-evaluation of the course using the Peer Review Form
      • Emails the self-evaluation to the assigned OFM to begin the peer review process.
    • OFM:
      • Reviews the self-evaluation, conducts the peer review (using the Peer Review Form) and shares the review with the course designer.
    • Course Designer:
      • Has the opportunity to make revisions based on OFM recommendations.
    • OFM:
      • Reviews course changes for possible re-rating of sections affected.
    • Course Designer and OFM:
      • Note all actions taken on the OFM's Peer Review Form.
    • OFM:
      • Submits the final Peer Review Form to Distance Education Faculty Services.
    • Faculty Services:
      • Emails a Course Approval Form and the Peer Review Form to the appropriate department chair/school director for course content review and delivery approval.
    • Department:
      • Chairs/school directors review the course including content, which is not addressed in the peer review.
      • Emails approval to Distance Education Faculty Services and signs and returns the Course Approval Form to that office.
    • Faculty Services:
      • Adds the course to the Approved Distance Courses inventory when delivery approval is received.
      • Emails the Scheduling Center that the course designer's department may add the course to the target semester schedule.
      • Completes a pay document to compensate the course designer per the fee noted in the development agreement.
      • Emails the course designer that the pay document has been processed.
    • Course Designer:
      • Receives development fee usually within eight (8) weeks of course approval.
      • Teaches the course in the target semester.

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