The University of Iowa
Online Course Design

What makes a great online course?

As we work with you to design and develop your online course, our goals include:

  1. Creating an engaging online experience that allows students to easily navigate course content,
  2. Ensuring that students identify and achieve course learning outcomes through the course content and assessments, and
  3. Cultivating a course community that encourages interaction between students and their instructor, students and their peers, and students and course content.

Every online course has unique needs and online courses will not necessarily follow the same structure. However, extensive research-based evidence identifies several key components important to the success of an online course. Listed below in the Core Components table you will notice items that are meant to give students a concrete orientation to the course material, expectations, and structure, as well as items that provide context for the learning materials. In any course, student-to-content, student-to-instructor, and student-to-student interaction are considered fundamental pieces of an online course. We have also included a list of items we consistently see in exemplar online courses. 

Core Online Course Components Infographic

Exemplar Online Course Components

For an accessible version of these two graphics, please view the PDF version of the Core Online Course Components and the Exemplar Online Course Components