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Course Development

CELT's instructional designers are available to support instructors as they develop new courses or redevelop current courses. 

What is Instructional Design?

Instructional design is the planning and creation of effective, measurable, and engaging learning objectives, activities, and assessments. Overall, instructional designers apply best pedagogical practices that take into account research on learning science, student development, and inclusive teaching. Instructional designers also provide training so faculty can leverage technology and pedagogy to build learning environments where students are able to flourish regardless of the modality of instruction. Instructional design includes taking a critical look at pedagogical practices by acknowledging the social and cultural contexts of learners and is committed to working with intentionality to bring equity to teaching and learning. Finally, instructional designers participate in research that furthers the extant knowledge on teaching and learning through a variety of platforms and modalities.

Start early!

For all course design projects, we recommend starting at least one semester prior to the start of the course. Please keep in mind that you may have to get your syllabus approved through your school's curriculum committee. They can provide you with additional information and due dates. Contact us to set up a consultation with an instructional designer. You can send your syllabus in advance so we can review your current course design and learning objectives and be better prepared to best advise you on revisions. 

Syllabus Design: CELT's Syllabus Templates

The first step to course design is reviewing the syllabus. The following syllabus templates bring together the best practices in online, hybrid, and face-to-face syllabi. The templates feature resources, links and phone numbers specific to the Stony Brook University student population. You can adapt and edit this template to suit your needs. Guiding comments are posted in a separate document to help you think through the trickier aspects of course policy and procedure.


Online Teaching & Learning

When developing an online course for the first time, approach it as if it is the first time you are teaching the course, even if you have taught it in person prior. 

A semester (or more) before class begins:
  • Take one of our Online Teaching Certificate (OTC) Courses offered at multiple times throughout the year.
  • Convert your syllabus to an online syllabus. Start by reviewing our template (see above).
  • While you are building your course, make sure it is unavailable for student viewing. Courses in Blackboard are set up using a template that would support online instruction. Decide on a folder or module structure prior to uploading content.
  • Create your quizzes, assignments, and discussion boards in Blackboard.
  • Set up your grade book in the Grade Center.
Two weeks before the class begins:
  • Use the Date Restrictions tool to hide any materials you are not ready for your students to see, double-check all links.
  • Post a welcome video and announcement for your students, and create an orientation or icebreaker activity.
One week before the class begins:
  • Open your class to allow students time to familiarize themselves with the course.
  • Email your students a welcome letter and invite them to explore the course. Describe the course expectations and activities, as well as provide helpful links to the location of the course, the location of the syllabus, how to log in, what materials they need to purchase and where they can get them, and how to contact the Blackboard help desk.
Be engaging! 

Research on best practices suggests that incorporating a variety of activities to promote cognitive and social engagement is critical to student learning.  Discussion boards, student-led activities, videos, recorded lectures, and posted readings are all easily manageable in Blackboard's learning management system.

Keep it organized!

Your first learning module should introduce the syllabus, provide tips for success, and orient the students to the course organization. Label course materials and learning modules clearly, and strive for consistency in how you present the materials. Blackboard allows you to use “Date Restrictions” to hide items from student view until you want them to become visible, so do yourself a favor and get everything posted in advance. You won't regret it!

Research-Informed Best Practices

CELT endorses quality online course design through both  Open SUNY's Online Course Quality Rubric (OSCQR) and Quality Matters (QM).

Open SUNY's Online Course Quality Rubric (OSCQR) is a research-based review instrument for revising and guiding the design quality of courses in addition to conducting internal peer reviews.

Quality Matters (QM) is a leader in quality assurance for online education and has received national recognition for its peer-based approach to the continuous improvement in online education. Stony Brook is a QM subscriber campus and CELT can provide faculty with training on how to use the QM rubric and advice on how to build an online course using QM Best Practices. Please note that Quality Matters is a proprietary rubric and cannot be shared outside of our campus.


Want to Know More?

Chico's Quality Learning and Teaching (QLT) Instrument is another rubric used to create and/or evaluate online and blended courses. This site also offers the option to view exemplary courses in which instructors have implemented the rubric.

Assessing Students Online - Review information about strategies and challenges when assessing students online. 

Updated Federal Regulations: Distance Education and Innovation

In July, 2021 the US Department of Education updated the federal regulations as it applies to distance learning today. Prior, the regulations were based on correspondence education and since then, the pedagogy and technology have changed significantly.

Below are some resources about these changes:

Please email us if you have questions or would like to set up a presentation.


Academic Video Production


Collaborate with CELT to produce high quality audio and/or video for academic content or grant projects. We have access to an active television studio with broadcast quality audio and video that can support your needs. Please contact Jan (Dini) Diskin-Zimmerman at 2-1026 for support on how to get started.  

Note: some services may have a cost associated with them. 


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