Converting Your Course to Online

Converting Your Course to Online

Converting Your Course to Online

The primary goal of an online course is the same as that of an on-site class: communication of content and achievement of course objectives. However, moving a course online is not as simple as the transfer from one medium to another. The process of conversion requires completing a few steps following the principles of instructional design:


Determine what you are trying to achieve with your instruction, who your students will be, and what are the needs of the class.


Decide the shape and direction of your course. Consider the following:
  • learning objectives
  • preferred teaching strategies (student centered vs. instructor led)
  • preferred method of presenting content (lecture notes, images, audio, video, presentations)
  • discussion (how central is it to achieving course objectives)
  • collaborative work (is it appropriate or desirable?)
  • assessment (the best way to assess student learning)
  • new methods or approaches to try


Gather digital and online resources. Create a syllabus, schedule, lecture materials, activites, exams, etc.

Implementation and Evaluation

Carry out the instructional sequence to deliver the course you have developed. Evaluate and fine tune. Focus on organization, clarity of materials, quality of activities, level of communication, and overall course satisfaction.

Steps in Transitioning Course Objectives to Online Learning

1. Course Goals and Objectives

What will students be able to do at the end of the course that they could not do before taking it?

  • Write behavioral learning objectives that make the answer to this question clear if your current course objectives are not framed this way already. For a review on writing behavorial learning objectives, see Writing Measurable and Meaningful Outcomes by Marliee J. Bresciani at NC State Univeristy (PDF)

Examine your learning objectives and group them in three types:

  1. Know (core concepts and principles)
  2. Do (skill objectives)
  3. Think (attitude objectives)

Consider the different levels at which students can interact with the course content:

  • Knowledge
  • Comprehension
  • Application
  • Analysis
  • Synthesis
  • Evaluation
If you are not familiar with Bloom's taxonomy, here is more information:

What experiences will help students achieve the learning objectives and course goals?

2. Type of Dialog

What type or types of dialog support the learning of course objectives?
  • Instructor to student (includes student to instructor)
  • Student to student
  • Student to resource

3. Teaching and Learning Strategies

Use a mix of instructional strategies and technologies appropriate to the learning goals and students.

4. Assessment

How will you and your students know when they have achieved course objectives?
  • What assessment tools will students use to assess their growing proficiency (e.g., self-paced quizzes or activites)?
  • What assessment tools will demonstrate to you and others that students have achieved the learning objectives for each unit of instruction and the overall course?

Source: Adapted from Online Teaching Institute at American River College, developed by Dr. Marsha Leeman-Conley

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