Course Design Resource Redesign

Course Design

What It Is

Course Design refers to the intentional processes of building a series of learning experiences for a particular learning environment. Similar terms or concepts such as instructional design, course planning, and learning experience design are sometimes used in conjunction with Course Design to refer to specific aspects of the design process. 

Why It Matters

Deliberately designing a course makes sure course goals are met. Course Design is especially useful in digital learning environments due to the various formats of online/hybrid classes and the wide variety of learner contexts.  

Most approaches to Course Design include the following key aspects:

Apply It 

To implement a design process for your course or learning experience, consider the following workflow and tips. 

  1. Know your audience and set specific goals for their success (Anderman  Andrzejewski, & Allen, 2011).
  2. Think about student motivation and how to engage students in the modality of your course (online, hybrid, in-person, etc.) (Kilis & Yildirim, 2018).
  3. Consider a modular approach to course design that aligns content, engagement, and assessment to overall course goals (Kelly, 2009).
  4. Aim for multiple avenues for learners to engage with content, other students, and the instructor. These can include assignments, in-class conversation, varied approaches to content delivery (readings, video, podcasts, etc.), and options for demonstration of learning(varied assignments) (UDL on Campus, 2021)
  5. Build-in mid-course feedback loops so you can hear from your students. What is working for them? What could you change to be responsive to class dynamics? How can students better engage?(Cook-Sather et al., 2014)



Anderman  Andrzejewski, C. E., & Allen, J., L. (2011). How do teachers support students’ motivation and learning in their classrooms? Teachers College Record, 113(5), 969–1003.

Cook-Sather, A., Cathy B., & Felten, P. (2014). Engaging students as partners in learning and teaching: a guide for faculty. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Kelly, R. (2009). A Modular Course Design Benefits Online Instructor and Students. Faculty Focus,

Kilis, S., & Yıldırım, Z. (2018). Investigation of community of inquiry framework in regard to self-regulation, metacognition and motivation. Computers and Education, 126(July), 53–64.

UDL on Campus: Universal Design for Higher Education.

Cite This Resource

Studio for Teaching & Learning Innovation. (2023, January). Course design [Teaching resource].

Updated 2/2023