Online Course Design


Faculty Canvas Training

Whether you are a new faculty member or a veteran of online instruction at BPCC, welcome to Online Faculty Training.

The content covered in the following modules is intended to better prepare you for the challenges you will face in the digital classroom.

NOTE: If you currently do not have access to myBPCC, you may find it beneficial to sign-up for a free account at the free Canvas portal.Will open new browser window or tab

Module 1

We discuss the evolution of online learning and why it is important in today’s education landscape.

Start Module 1

Module 2

We are all unique, so how do we translate our identity to the sterile digital classroom.

Start Module 2

Module 3

Personalizing instruction to engage students in the digital classroom.

Start Module 3

Module 4

Building your basic course home page and navigation.

Start Module 4

Module 5

Creating your Digital Lesson Plan.

Start Module 5


Checking Broken Links

Often times instructors provide links to course material in an effort to make thing easier for students to locate material. Since we recommend that the Files area is unavailable to the students, it is crucial that these links are valid. Canvas provides a tool in you course that will automatically check the links to make sure they are unbroken.

»Screenshot tutorial on how to use the Validate Links in Content toolWill open new browser window or tab

What if you do not understand why it is reporting a broken link?

  1. If it is a link to a webpage outside of the Canvas course, it may report a false positive. Check the link. If it works as you intended, then disregard the message.
  2. Take a look at our video on our Tutorial Page.Will open new browser window or tab

Cleaning up your Viewable Courses

With the end of one semester and the beginning of the next quickly approaching, you may see old courses but not your new ones.

Open Courses

MyBPCC Screenshot

Manage Courses

Click the star to add it to your Favorite Course list (and dashboard). Do the same to remove it from your Favorite Course list.

MyBPCC Screenshot

MyBPCC Screenshot


Improving your Course Completion Rates

Before or at the beginning of a new semester, you may be building new or perhaps tweaking your online courses. The layout of your course is important to help your students successfully complete your course. This page provides information on how to design your course to improve course completion rates.

The information on this page is modified from a Faculty Focus post. To view the post in its entirety go to Ensuring Student Success in Online Courses.Will open new browser window or tab

Course Content and Layout

Many students drop out of online courses because they feel overwhelmed and sometimes frustrated with the amount of information presented to them and the way it is presented. Learners can experience “cognitive overload” if the information presented to them is not logically organized and the course design is not easy to follow.

  • Provide a simple and consistent layout and navigation for the course. Use the same layout for each module (for example, overview, objectives, readings, viewings, assignments etc.; differentiate between required and recommended reading), as too much variation could overwhelm students.
  • Explain and show the structure and layout of the course by making a “course tour” video.

Clearly Communicate Expectations

Many students report feeling lost and confused in online learning environments. Due to lack of face-to-face contact, sometimes students are unclear on the expectations or need reassurance that they understand the expectations.

  • Provide detailed and very explicit instructions about the course format, assignments, expectations, grading criteria, etc.
  • Provide rubrics and sample assignments

Prepare Students

  • Technical skills
  • Study skills
  • Workload management

Humanize the Course

Students report that one of the main reasons they drop out of online courses or programs is because they feel lonely and isolated.

  • Do ice-breaking activities, such as an introduce yourself discussion post
  • Provide a personal response to students

Prepare your Slides for Live Presentations

The source of this information is from the W3 organization that strives to make all information usable by all people.

When preparing information that will be projected onto a screen it is important to make that material visible to your learners. It is also suggested that you provide the material to the learners either electronically (such as posting it in your Canvas course). Student with visual disabilities have tools that allow them to hear the material or to change the font size so that they will be able to read it as well.

Here are the types copied from the W3 website.Will open new browser window or tab

Make text and important visuals big enough to be read even from the back of the room.

  • This includes graphics on slides, videos, posters, and other non-electronic material.

Use an easy-to-read font face.

  • Simple fonts with consistent thickness are often easier to read from a distance (as opposed to fonts where parts of the letters are thin, like Times New Roman). Avoid fancy fonts that are difficult to read.

Use sufficient color contrast.

  • Color contrast guidelinesWill open new browser window or tab and evaluation toolsWill open new browser window or tab for web pages might be helpful to determine sufficient contrast (although the medium is different because those guidelines are specifically for web pages). Use appropriate background and text colors. Some suggest when presenting in a light room to display dark text on a light background. When presenting in a darkened room to display light text on a dark background, and ensure that the weight of text is sufficient (for example, bold).

Make provided material accessible.

  • If you are giving participants’ material, make it accessible. You can view the W3 recommendations for our article “Make your Material Accessible”.

Universal Design

Universal Design is the concept of creating instruction that addressed the why, what, and how of learning.

Universal Design is the concept of creating instruction for all people based on the different ways people learn. This goes much deeper then learning styles. This is the role the instructor plays in attempting to provide instructional material in ways that benefit learning that addresses the why, what, and how of learning.

Universal Design is the concept of creating instruction that addressed the why, what, and how of learning.

Developing your curriculum to meet these needs will take time, thought, and most likely collaboration with your peers. This videoWill open new browser window or tab provides information from Colorado State University on how they implement Universal Design in their classroom instruction.

The National Center On Universal Design provides a short information sheet for ways to address the why, what, and how of learning. (Download UDL Guidelines)PDF File

UDL at a Glance videoWill open new browser window or tab