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Research-Effective Online Teaching
Course Definitions
Overview – Course Development Process


MTSU faculty members have the opportunity to develop and to teach the following types of alternative delivery courses:  online, accelerated online, hybrid, and Regents Online Camous Collaborative (ROCC) courses.  Faculty may also teach alternative delivery courses which do not require approval through the University College process:  synchronous online, videoconferencing, off-campus, web-assisted and web-enhanced.

MTSU faculty new to online course development (including full-time, full-time temporary and adjunct faculty) are required to complete D2L training and to meet with the MTSU Instructional Design Specialist to discuss the planning of the course.  All faculty course developers are assigned an Online Faculty Mentor (OFM) to mentor throughout the process and to conduct a peer review of the course upon completion.  

MTSU pays an online course development fee, based on the number of credit hours created, only for MTSU courses approved by the University Curriculum Committee or the Graduate Council.

MTSU follows a lead designer model which funds development fees for the creation of one version of a course.  Contact Distance Education Faculty Services at 904-8276 for a list of courses developed by faculty in your department.  Development fees are paid only for courses which have not been previously designed for online or hybrid delivery.

Designers are provided the following development assistance:

  • Instructional Design Specialist through the LT&ITC;
  • Faculty Instructional Technology Center (FITC) specialists;  and
  • Online Faculty Mentor (OFM) assigned to each course designer.

Desire2Learn (D2L) is the MTSU-supported learning management system.  All faculty new to online and hybrid course development are required to complete training on this system prior to course development.  

Faculty receive a fee based on the number of credit hours developed (see development fees for additional information).  Only existing MTSU courses (approved by the Curriculum Committee or Graduate Council) may be developed for online or hybrid delivery.  Development fees are paid only for courses which have not been previously designed for online or hybrid delivery.  Special Topics courses are the exception.

Upon completion, all new MTSU online and hybrid courses are peer reviewed by an assigned Online Faculty Mentor (OFM) and reviewed and approved by the department chair or school director before being placed on a semester schedule.  The course developer is also expected to conduct a self-evaluation of the course before submitting it to the OFM for the peer review.

Because department chairs/school directors have the option of assigning online and hybrid courses to other instructors, courses must be developed with that thought in mind.  Course designers serve as lead designers of their approved courses and are responsible for updating course content and sharing it with sectional instructors.  

At the end of the three-year contract period, course designers must substantially redesign their online and hybrid courses and will receive a redesign fee (see development fees for additional information).  The peer review/chair approval process also applies to course redesigns.

On this page, and subsequent pages, information is presented to guide faculty through the MTSU online and hybrid course development process.  Helpful development and instructional resources are also provided.  

Research – Effective Online Teaching

This section provides links to effective teaching and learning resources.


Course Definitions

Course developers will want to review the types of distance courses MTSU offers to determine the delivery method best suited for their subjects and student needs.  Please note that fees are only paid for online and hybrid course development.  However, the Scheduling Center requires the use of specific scheduling codes for other types of distance courses in order to inform students about the types of courses for which they are registering.

Overview – Course Development Process

A brief overview of the MTSU online/hybrid course development process is outlined below.

  • Course designer completes Course Proposal Form.
  • Department chair approves Course Proposal Form.
  • Online/Hybrid Course Development Agreement is sent to course designer.
  • An Online Faculty Mentor (OFM) is assigned to course designer by Faculty Services.
  • Course designer:
    • requests D2L Development shell, if needed.
    • completes required Desire2Learn (D2L) training conducted by FITC.
    • reviews Peer Review Form and uses form as a development guide.
    • meets with Instructional Design Specialist to plan course.
    • develops course (according to Online/Hybrid Course Guidelines) with assistance of FITC staff, Instructional Design Specialist and assigned Online Faculty Mentor, as needed.
    • conducts a self-evaluation when the course is complete
  • A peer review is conducted by the assigned OFM.
  • The course is reviewed and approved by the department chair or school director.
  • The Scheduling Center is notified of course approval by Faculty Services.
  • Department schedules new course.
  • Payment of course development fees to course designer by Faculty Services.
  • Instruction of new course during targeted semester.



As decisions are made about online or hybrid course conversion, it will be helpful to understand the roles of each of the following:  Course Designers; Department Chairs/School Directors; Distance Education Faculty Services; Distance Education Student Services; Instructional Technology Division (ITD); and Online Faculty Mentors (OFMs).

Faculty Course Designers

  • Review Online/Hybrid Course Guidelines
  • Review the Peer Review Form prior to course development.
  • Determine the best delivery method for their course based on content, student needs, and according to MTSU distance course definitions.
  • Propose only existing MTSU courses approved by the Curriculum Committee and/or Graduate Council which have not previously been developed for distance delivery.
  • Complete and submit for approval all course design and review/approval documents:
    • Online/Hybrid Course Proposal Form
    • Syllabus   
    • Online/Hybrid Course Development Agreement.
  • Develop course syllabus using required Syllabus Template.
  • Request a Desire2Learn (D2L) development shell  from ITD in which to create and post original content.
  • Use development shells for course creation as opposed to semester shells.  Content will be lost if a semester shell is deleted.
  • Development of original course content in D2L is required.  Publisher content, or other pre-produced content, may be utilized but should be thoughtfully integrated into the original course content produced by the developer.
  • Develop the course so it can continue to successfully run in D2L if a publisher’s website or external, supplemental site is unavailable.  (MTSU’s ITD does not support nor provide archival capabilities for content posted to external sites.)
  • Design course requiring use of D2L email for archival purposes and to satisfy FERPA regulations.
  • Design appropriate D2L grade books for posting all grades.  For security reasons, student grades, and other personally identifiable information, must be posted only within D2L.
  • Review and follow the Peer Review Form as a guide during course design.
  • Complete D2L training at the Faculty Instructional Technology Center.
  • Forward the signed FITC Confirmation Form to Distance Education Faculty Services, Box 54 following completion of D2L training and meeting with IDS.
  • Contact the Instructional Design Specialist at the Learning, Teaching and Innovative Technology Center (LT&ITC) for assistance with planning and course design.
  • Work with assigned Online Faculty Mentor (OFM) as needed during course development.
  • Design the course so that other instructors may teach it.
  • Build interactivity into the course content.
  • Consider posted university holidays and breaks when scheduling exams, meetings and assignment due dates.
  • Provide students with detailed information on all assignments and course requirements.
  • Conduct a self-evaluation (using the Peer Review Form) when the course is complete, and submit to assigned OFM.
  • Add OFM and department chair to course for peer review and chair review/approval, respectively.
  • Take into consideration changes recommended by OFM.
  • Serve as the lead designer of the course for the term of the three-year contract, the duties of which include:
    • updating the master shell each semester as necessary;
    • each semester meet with professors new to the instruction of the course to familiarize and assist in updating welcome page, contact information, and calendar;
    • uploading approved course for sectional instructors;
    • working with department to obtain textbooks and other course materials;
    • working with the department to schedule the course.
    • Note:  These services should be provided by the lead designer even if he/she is not teaching a section of his/her own course during the semester.
  • Follow these instructional recommendations/best practices each semester and share with sectional instructors:
    • Login to class the day classes begin;
    • Login to class at least three times per week;
    • Respond to student e-mails and discussion postings within 48 hours;
    • Grade assignments, discussions, quizzes, etc., and post the grades within two weeks of the assignment’s posted due date;
    • Follow the University posted holiday schedule during all terms.
  • Revise the course when the three-year contract expires.

 Department Chairs

  • Approve development of distance courses proposed by faculty within their departments (Course Proposal Form and Online or Hybrid Course Development Agreement).
  • Examine completed courses and the Peer Review Forms in order to approve online and hybrid courses for delivery.
  • Email course delivery approval to Distance Education Faculty Services at
  • Schedule the approved courses (and meeting facilities, as needed) for delivery according to Scheduling Center deadlines and target delivery semester noted in development agreement.
  • Offer and staff additional sections of online courses when possible.
  • Appoint new lead designers when original course designers are no longer available.
  • Ensure new online course instructors are trained on the learning management system and meet with lead course developers for an overview of instruction of approved course content.

Online Faculty Mentor (OFM)

  • Meets with assigned course developers prior to and during course development.
  • Conducts preliminary peer review of the course and recommends improvements.
  • Conducts final peer review of the completed course and makes recommendations for improvement, if needed.
  • Emails completed and signed (electronic signature) Peer Review Form to Distance Education Faculty Services at
  • Is available to answer questions during approval process and the initial instruction of the new course.

Distance Education Faculty Services Office

  • Coordinates the development and delivery of MTSU distance courses (online, hybrid, accelerated online).
  • Maintains the Distance Education Faculty Services website
  • Provides course designers with and directs them to development and instructional resources.
  • Assigns an Online Faculty Mentor (OFM) to each course designer to serve as a development/instructional mentor.
  • Provides “Meet Your Mentor” information on the D2L Learning Community for review by new designers.
  • Provides course designers with the Peer Review Form to use as a design guide at the beginning of the development process.
  • Facilitates the approval of, and maintains on file, all course design, review, and approval documents.
  • Completes pay documents to compensate faculty for course design, redesign, and peer reviews.
  • Tracks design, review, and approval processes for each new/redesigned course.
  • Works with Scheduling Center and academic departments to list approved distance courses on appropriate semester schedules.
  • Updates distance educators on current and pertinent distance learning news.
  • Surveys distance faculty annually regarding services provided and other issues/concerns.
  • Contacts distance students who are non-participating to offer course access and other assistance after the first week of each semester.
  • Serves as point of contact for all faculty distance course designers/instructors.

Distance Education Student Services

  • Coordinates a Distance Education Test Center to assist faculty with on-campus and off-campus test proctoring requirements.
  • Facilitates the evaluation of all distance course instructors in Fall and Spring Semesters.
  • Provides Smarthinking online tutorial for distance students.
  • Conducts Student Satisfaction Survey annually.
  • Emails course access instructions to distance students at the beginning of each semester.

MTSU Information Technology Division (ITD)

  • Provides students and faculty with accounts on appropriate academic systems.
  • Supports student and faculty use of an online learning environment system, electronic communications, email, and the World Wide Web.
  • Operates the Faculty Instructional Technology Center (FITC) which supports multimedia resource development, digital cameras and scanners, graphic and video production and editing, instructional design consultation and training on software applications.
  • Supports faculty use and development of instructional technologies by providing one-on-one consultations, reassigned-time, summer fellowships and workshops.
  • Staffs a 24/7 Help Desk for students and faculty (615-898-5345).
  • Provides instructional and course development resources such as Turnitin and SoftChalk.

Questions?  Contact

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