Best Practices for Online Course Redesign

Planning to redesign your online or hybrid course? The Center for Instructional Technology (CIT) recently completed two redesign projects for the Duke School of Nursing: N580: Nurse as Scholar I and N502: Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, an online course offered to students at Duke and at Duke Kunshan University (redesigned to feature more global content and interactive course videos). Below is a suggested 3-phased approach and overview of the redesign process.

Phase 1: Analysis, Resources, and Partners

  • Use a data-driven approach. Focus redesign efforts on areas of need identified from course evaluations and faculty and student considerations.
  • Conduct a learner analysis. What are students’ unique learning needs and the diversity of perspective they bring to your course?
  • Involve key stakeholders, consider available resources, and potential partners (CIT, Online Duke) who can help you. CIT provides open office hours for faculty to discuss their course redesign needs.
  • Consider the capabilities of the platform you will use and the learning technologies available.

Phase 2: Design and Development

  • Identify course components for redesign. CIT consultants can work with faculty to provide design recommendations that focus on course components, including more effective course organization and pedagogical design, creating modular content, enhancing student engagement, developing videos, designing assessments, or creating a more accessible, mobile-friendly course.
  • Plan a phased approach to redesign, identifying high impact/low impact areas and redesign efforts that require more time to implement.
  • Keep your design clean and simple. A nicely designed lessons page can become a template and implemented for all your weekly lessons, with minor revisions.
  • For redesign efforts that require new content or a new delivery modality, allow extra time for this work. For example, recording video can be time-consuming for faculty, so you could identify 3-5 lessons you’ll record video for, and keep it short (no more than 10 minute segments) per video. Allow time to learn how to use the video recording kit if you are going to do-it-yourself or plan for recording time in the Multimedia Project Studio.

Phase 3: Implementation and Evaluation

  • If you plan to use a new instructional tool, consider a pilot run as a first step. For example, if you’d like to create interactive video lessons using PlayPosit, implement this in only a few videos, evaluate the effectiveness, and then implement more widely in your course the following semester.
  • Remember, you can identify components for redesign, plan a phased approach, pilot new tools, and implement more broadly once you have evaluated the project.


This blog is based on a presentation given at the 2016 Online Learning Consortium Accelerate Conference: A Scalable Consulting Model for Online Course Redesign