Course Redesign


Course Redesign Fees
Required Training
D2L Course Shells
Getting Started
Course Redesign Guidelines/Requirements
Content Approval
Moving Course Content


The importance of a substantial online and hybrid course redesign, when the three-year Online/Hybrid Course Development Agreement has expired, is explained in SACS Policy Statement 3, Institutions must ensure that their distance and correspondence education courses and programs comply with the Principles of Accreditation. This applies to all educational programs and services, wherever located or however delivered.

SACS Principles of Accreditation Comprehensive Standard 3.4.10 states:  “The institution places primary responsibility for the content, quality, and effectiveness of the curriculum with its faculty.”

In addition, SACS Guidelines in the Application of the Principles of Accreditation to Distance and Correspondence Education state:

  • The faculty assumes primary responsibility for and exercises oversight of distance and correspondence education, ensuring both the rigor of programs and the quality of instruction.
  • The technology used is appropriate to the nature and objectives of the programs and courses and expectations concerning the use of such technology are clearly communicated to students.

To assist in promoting MTSU online and hybrid course quality, University College’s Distance Education Faculty Services (DEFS) provides a course redesign process which includes faculty compensation per credit hour redesigned. 

MTSU Online and Hybrid Course Redesign Fees

Effective May 16, 2014

Credit Hours

Redesign Fees









Addition of graduate content to existing online undergraduate course = Additional Fee of $500

Course designers are required to renew their agreements and substantially (50% or more of the content) redesign their courses at the end of the three-year contract period.  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 development.

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 and contract renewal, the appropriate redesign fee.  Written requests for early redesign may be made to the Distance Education Faculty Services Office. 


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.
  • Redesign fees cannot be paid if the course redesign is completed prior to redesign agreement approval.
  • An Online Faculty Mentor (OFM) is 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 (see Course Approval section).

Required Training

 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.
  • 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.)
  • Even though training is not required of experienced course designers, they are encouraged to discuss the design or redesign of their courses with MTSU Online instructional designers due to continual innovations in software/hardware and multimedia used in online course development/instruction.

When training is complete, the trainers will sign the MTSU Online Course Development Training Confirmation Form, and the course designer will forward it to MTSU Online Faculty Services at Box 54.

MTSU Instructional Design Specialist

First-time and experienced course designers are required/strongly encouraged, respectively, to discuss the design or redesign of their courses with an MTSU Online Instructional Designer Specialist (IDS).  The IDS 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 at to schedule an appointment. Please refer to the Planning section of this website for additional planning resources and information.

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 cancelled or 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.
  • A syllabus template is included in each D2L development shell.  The use of this template for online courses ensures that distance learners are provided all of the resources specific to this student population.

Getting Started

 Course Proposal

    • Course designers must complete the Online/Hybrid Course Proposal Form (one per course), and scan and email it or send it through campus mail to MTSU Online Faculty Services, Box 54. The course designer’s and chair’s signatures are required on the Proposal Form.  Information from the Proposal Form is posted to the MTSU Online database.

Redesign Agreement/Contract

    • Upon receipt of the Course Proposal Form, an Online/Hybrid Course Redesign Agreement is emailed to the course developer. The course designer should immediately review, sign and forward for all required signatures.
    • Please note: The course developer cannot be compensated if the redesign agreement is not approved and on file in MTSU Online Faculty Services prior to completion of course redesign.

Online Faculty Mentor (OFM) Assignment

  • Upon receipt of the Course Proposal Form, an Online Faculty Mentor (OFM) is assigned to the course designer to serve as a resource, as needed, and to conduct a peer review upon completion of course redesign.

Course Development Assistance

The staff at the Faculty Instructional Technology Center (FITC), located in the Telecommunications Building, are 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

As stated above, first-time course developers are required, and experienced course designers are encouraged, to discuss the design or redesign of their courses with the MTSU’s Instructional Design Specialist located in Room 348 of the James E. Walker Library in the Learning, Teaching and Innovative Technology Center (LT&ITC).  Appointments may be made by calling 615-494-7671. 

Online and Distance Education 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:

    • use a secure login and pass code into the MTSU-supported Learning Management System, currently Desire2Learn (D2L) and/or;
    • 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/school directors may assign the instruction of approved online and hybrid courses to professors who did not develop the courses. Therefore, it is recommended that courses be developed accordingly using a generic design.

Lead Designer

Faculty who develop online courses or who redesign existing online courses are considered to be lead designers and are responsible for maintaining/updating their approved online and hybrid course content and for sharing the approved content with faculty (full-time and adjunct faculty) teaching sections of their courses during the three-year contract period.

Lead Designer Responsibilities:

  • work with the department to schedule the course.
  • update the content in the master shell each semester as necessary;
  • upload the approved course for sectional instructors;
  • each semester meet with professors new to the instruction of the course to familiarize them with the content and assist in updating the welcome page, contact information, and calendar;
  • work with department to obtain textbooks and other course materials;

Note:  These services should be provided by the lead designers even if they are not teaching their own courses during the semester.

Original Content

Development of original content, using a generic design, is required in order to receive development and redesign fees.  Students must be able to complete the course requirements and satisfy learning outcomes using the content within D2L without relying on third party vendor/e-publisher websites.

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.

Use of Third Party/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 or unavailable.
      • 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 must be notified of costs associated with the use of publisher/supplemental websites by posting the fees to PipelineMT 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.

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, completed Peer Review Form to MTSU Online Faculty Services.  MTSU Online will only accept completed Peer Review forms from the assigned OFM.
    • MTSU Online Faculty Services:
      • Emails a Course Approval Form and the completed Peer Review Form to the appropriate department chair/school director for course content review and delivery approval.
    • Department:
      • Department chairs/school directors review the course design and content.
      • If the chair or director do not wish to complete the review, they may assign a content expert within the department to review/approve the course.
      • Chair/director signs the Course Approval Form and scans/emails to at MTSU Online Faculty Services or sends it to Carol Hayes at MTSU Box 54.
    • MTSU Online Faculty Services:
      • Adds the course to the Approved Distance Courses inventory when course 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 redesign agreement/contract.
      • Emails the course designer that the pay document has been processed and when to expect payment.
    • Department

      • Adds course to the semester schedule.
      • Schedules meeting rooms as required for hybrid courses.
      • Schedules meeting rooms for optional meetings for online students, if requested by instructor.
      Course Designer:
      • Receives redesign fee usually within eight (8) weeks of course approval.
      • Teaches the course in the target semester.
      • Shares approved course content with faculty teaching sections of the course.

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.
  3. Click on Search for Offering and locate the course that contains the content you want to copy.
  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.
  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.
  6. Continue through the Wizard until it finishes.

Find us on Facebook  Find us on Twitter  Find us on LinkedIn

How can we help?


Adult Learning Focused Institution


Register to Vote!