CNDLS Design Studio: New Processes for Online Course Development

Every summer, CNDLS works with faculty from across campus to design and develop online courses, in conjunction with the School of Continuing Studies (SCS). With many Georgetown undergraduates leaving the Hilltop after spring semester, these online courses are an alternative option to on-campus summer classes. This year, in partnership with SCS faculty, CNDLS designed and developed the highest-ever number of courses, with six new courses and nine repeats for a total of fifteen different classes available. Due to this record-setting number, the CNDLS team was challenged to come up with a new process for developing courses.

In the past, all of the faculty members who would be teaching a summer course would meet three times, followed by one-on-one meetings with members of the CNDLS Learning and Design (LD) team. While this approach was appropriate for a few online courses, it became harder to maintain at a high standard as more and more courses were added to the schedule. As a result, the LD team created a new process—the CNDLS Design Studio: Online Learning Series.

As courses are now taught using Canvas instead of Blackboard, the team decided to build their training using the new platform. Built as a Canvas course itself, the Design Studio is comprised of an orientation and three modules that cover design, development, and management of online courses. There are now six meetings throughout the year for the faculty to meet as a full cohort, including one after courses conclude that focuses on lessons learned. This has created a sense of community for the faculty participating, and provides an opportunity for peer-to-peer feedback.

This summer was the first implementation of the Design Studio and it received much praise. Faculty members appreciated being able to learn from one another; it sparked their creativity and helped create a learning community. The increase of full cohort meetings also created more organization, with course milestones planned for each meeting, and accountability, as faculty were presenting their ideas during the meetings to their peers. When asked for comments on the new way of developing courses, feedback included: “[t]hanks for this detailed and useful feedback. I really appreciate the attention to detail and substantive suggestions here” and “Thanks for all your help (and I copy the entire team to thank them as well!) Go, CNDLS!”

Having proved to be a very successful method, this new approach will help to shape training and course development for other classes as well. Currently, CNDLS is using the Design Studio to support main campus faculty with summer course design and development. With its success, the team is now looking at who else may benefit from participating in the studio in the future.  To learn more about the CNDLS Design Studio, please To learn more about other CNDLS developed online courses, visit our GeorgetownX page.