Course Development

Course Development Services
Course Development Requirements

Course Completion/Approval


Faculty course designers may proceed with course development with the assistance of the their assigned Online Faculty Mentor (OFM) and Instructional Designer (ID) 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 Online Course Development Proposal Form has been approved by the chair and submitted to MTSU Online Faculty Services;
    • a course syllabus (using the required, accessible syllabus template in D2L-see instructions for download at Select a Template) has been submitted to department chair/school director and to MTSU Online Faculty Services;
    • the Course Development Agreement has been signed and routed for required signatures;
    • required D2L training and required meeting with the Instructional Designer are complete, and the signed MTSU Online Course Development Training Confirmation Form is on file in MTSU Online Faculty Services ( applies to new course designers);
    • received access to a D2L development shell
    • the following forms have been reviewed
    • New course developers have met with their assigned OFMs to discuss course design.

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 Designer

First-time course designers are required, and experienced course developers are encouraged, to discuss the design or redesign of their courses with MTSU’s Instructional Designer who is located in Room 348 of the James E. Walker Library in the Learning, Teaching and Innovative Technology Center. The ID may be reached at 615-494-7671 to schedule an appointment. 

Faculty Instructional Technology Center (FITC)

The Faculty Instructional Technology Center (FITC) staff, located in the Telecommunications Building, are 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 615/904-8189. The FITC also offers workshops for which faculty may register.   An online training option is available through self-registration on your D2L home page.

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 by MTSU Online 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 the following requirements and guidelines.

MTSU Online/Hybrid Course Guidelines

All MTSU online and hybrid courses must be developed in accordance with the MTSU Online and Distance Education 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 form is also used by the assigned OFM to conduct the peer review of the completed course.
      • The department chair/school director reviews the completed Peer Review Form as part of the delivery approval process.

HTML Content

It is best that the majority of course files be in web/HTML page format since web pages are immediately available to students who are visually impaired and use JAWs to read their course pages. JAWs cannot read Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, Excel files, and PDFs in the D2L viewer. JAWs users who take a course that contains content pages created entirely in Word and PDF would be forced to download every content page before they could be read. Having to download every file can be frustrating for the student. However, if Word, PDF, PowerPoint, and Excel files are used sparingly, and only when it is appropriate for the assignment, then linking to these files is fine. Instructors can link to these files from the content area and/or a dropbox. The instructor must be sure to make all files accessible no matter which file type is used.

How Do I Convert My Word Documents to HTML Web Pages?

It is best not to ever paste Word content directly into a D2L HTML file.  To convert a Word document to D2L web page (with or without an applied page template), please follow these instructions.

  1. Create a new web page/file in D2L and choose one of the built in pages templates with simple formatting to give your page a style. (Note: An accessible syllabus outline is one of the template choices.)
  2. Copy the text of an entire Word document, or a portion of the Word document, depending on what you are trying to accomplish. (If you are using our syllabus template you may want to copy content for each section separately.)
  3. Move back to the D2L web page
  4. Place the cursor at the place in the D2L web page that you wish to paste.
  5. Use the paste as Text command – Control + Shift + V (Windows) or Shift+Option+Command+V (Mac) to paste the text of the Word document as plain text. Pasting text in this manner places all text in one long paragraph.
  6. Break up the text into paragraphs if you need to and apply heading and list styles.
    (Note: If you don’t break the text into paragraphs adding a heading style or list style will affect all of the text. Break the text into paragraphs by placing the cursor in the new paragraph location and press the enter key.)
  7. Create Accessible tables – Phillip V. suggests using for table creation, however, if you have simple tables, just adding a title and description in Word’s table properties and then pasting the table into your D2L web page the normal way – not plain text. Control +V (Windows) or Command +V (Mac) will make a partially accessible table.
      1. Accessify creates the HTML code for a highly accessible table and is the best choice, however, you will need to paste this table into your page via code view. If you are not familiar with HTML consult with the FITC staff.
      2. Free programs such as FrontPage can aid in locating the proper place to paste code because you can type in the words “put table here” in page view, highlight those words, and switch to HTML view and the text and HTML tags for “put table here” will be highlighted. You can then delete the highlighted text and HTML tags and paste in the Accessify code.
  8. Export any images that existed in the Word document as separate images. (Right click and save the images to your computer.)
  9. Import the images into your web page and add alt text and descriptions.

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.

As of 2019 Fall Semester, MTSU will offer secure, online exam proctoring via Examity, and faculty may opt into this service which is interfaced with Desire2Learn (D2L) MTSU's learning management system (LMS).

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 using a generic design.

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.  Students cannot be penalized for non-attendance at optional meetings.

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 or external website.

Use of Third Party Vendor/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/third party vendor sites.
    • Due to financial aid, FERPA and other regulations/issues, instruction of course content must be limited and student educational records not shared in e-publisher and other third party vendor websites.
    • If a course developer wishes to use third party vendor/e-publisher content in the development of their online course, the course designer must contact the MTSU Faculty Instructional Technology Center (FITC) to:  1) determine if a contract is needed and if currently in place for the specific third party vendor/e-publisher the course designer wishes to use; 2) to determine what integration with the third party vendor content is applicable within their D2L course shells.  
    • Students should be notified of costs associated with the use of publisher/supplemental websites by posting the fees to PipelineMT semester schedules.


Online course instructors must communicate with their students in 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.

Moving Course Content

  1. Open the course that needs to receive the course content.
  2. Locate the link “Import/Export/Copy Components” on the left side of the page.
    Screen 1
  3. Click on Search for Offering and locate the course that contains the content you want to copy.
    Screen 2
  4. Search for the course that contains the content, select it, and then click the Add Selected button at the lower left hand corner of the page. Note: You can type in the semester code – fall 2013 is “201380” and spring 2013 is “201310” and summer 2013 is “201350” and spring 2014 is 201410 and all of the courses you taught in that semester will display. Note, you may also need to search for a development course. Copy the name of the development course and paste that in the search box.
    Screen 3
  5. Click the Copy All Components button if you want to copy the entire course. This is typically what you want to do. You can also select specific components.
    Screen 4
  6. Continue through the Wizard until it finishes.

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 to the point that students can complete all requirements and learning outcomes when the Online Faculty Mentor conducts the peer review.

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