Getting started with asynchronous online course development

The Office of Digital Learning has put together the following information to help you get started in planning for your asynchronous online course.

Make sure you understand what is meant by “asynchronous” online learning

In an asynchronous online course, course materials (lectures, readings, discussion forums, assessments, etc.) are prepared in advance and are made available for students to access and engage with on their own schedules. Asynchronous courses do not include set meeting times.

The alternative to asynchronous online courses are synchronous online courses, in which the instructor and students are online at the same time. Course material is delivered and discussions occur in real time, using web conferencing (e.g., Zoom) or similar technology. Students can ask questions, take tests, or participate in discussions online while the instructor is available to assist them.

If you are interested in developing a synchronous online course, please see ODL’s Getting Started with Synchronous Online Learning webpage.

Determine how much assistance you will want in developing your course

Before submitting a proposal for your asynchronous online course development, you’ll need to determine how you’d like to go about developing your course. The two options for development are:

  • Developing the course with the assistance of ODL’s Instructional Design & Educational Technology (IDET) team. This process will guide faculty from initial planning through building their course in WebCampus, with the support and assistance of an instructional designer and instructional technologist from IDET at every step. This option is more structured and requires the Faculty Course Developer (FCD) to create a schedule to complete all parts of the class, that members of the development team will review and provide feedback on as the development progresses. All new online courses must pass the University Standards for Digital Instruction, but when the course is developed with the assistance of IDET, the development team will help the FCD to meet the required University Standards for Digital Instruction as the course is being developed. FCDs who develop their asynchronous online course with an IDET development team may be eligible for a development stipend of up to $1000 per credit.
  • Developing the course on your own. This approach will have the FCD fully in the driver’s seat, working to plan, design, and build the course on their own. The FCD will still have access to IDET’s resources, such as the Online Course Design Basics training, and instructional designers and technologists should questions arise, but the FCD will be working predominantly on their own to design and develop the course. Once the course has been fully developed, the course will be reviewed using the University Standards for Digital Instruction; if the course does not pass review, the FCD will be put in touch with a team from IDET to help make revisions and adjustments to bring the course into alignment with the Standards.

Submit an Online Course Approval Request Form in Curriculog

To begin the course development process, the faculty member or department representative will need to submit the Online Course Approval Request Form in Curriculog. The form will need to be approved by the department head, the college dean, the Office of Digital Learning, the Vice Provost for Online Education, and the Office of the Provost.

Review the University Standards for Digital Instruction

Make sure to review the University Standards for Digital Instruction. Please keep these standards in mind when designing and building the online component of your course.

Contact ODL to have a sandbox course site created

Once your course has been approved for online course development, either work with your course development team or contact ODL at to have a sandbox course site created for you in WebCampus. This will provide you with a place to work before the course site for the first semester you will offer it is available.

Download the asynchronous online course template from Canvas Commons

ODL has created an Asynchronous Online Course Template for use by faculty in developing their online courses. This template provides a basic structure of an asynchronous online course, including weekly modules, activities, and assessments. The template also provides information on what the faculty member should fill in to meet the University Standards for Digital Instruction, as well as links to screenshot tutorials on how different tools within WebCampus work.

You can find ODL’s asynchronous online course template by logging in to WebCampus, then clicking the Commons button on the global navigation menu to the left of the page. Use the search bar to search for “ODL ASYNCHRONOUS ONLINE course template.” Then click the Import/Download button to the left of the page.

Alternatively, you may email the Office of Digital Learning to request that the template be loaded into your course for you.

Attend workshops and register for training

The Office of Digital Learning offers faculty development programs in teaching and learning. These programs go deeper than individual workshops and trainings to promote faculty knowledge and encourage innovative practice in teaching. Click here to explore workshops and trainings.

Please contact the Office of Digital Learning so that an Instructional Designer can enroll you into our Online Course Design Basics course. This training is beneficial for anyone that is teaching a course online on WebCampus, regardless of the modality.