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Key Steps for New Course Development

The course development process involves developing objectives, getting course approval, creating content, designing assessments, selecting technologies, and preparing the course site. 

We have organized the development process for a new online course into eight key steps: 

Flow chart of the key steps in course development: 1. Develop course objectives, 2. Submit proposal, 3. Meet with ID, 4. Create & select content, 5.Write assessments & activities, 6. Write syllabus, 7. Prepare course site, 8. Evaluate and revise.

Step 1: Develop Course Objectives 

Defining course objectives sets the foundational structure of your course and the parameters for its development. Well-written objectives target what students should be able to do upon completing the course, and thus they are the blueprint for the content and assessments needed to ensure students achieve those learning goals. 

In addition, well-designed objectives become part of the common language of a program’s curriculum, so there are standards for their development. Course learning objectives should be:

  • Student centered 

  • Written with action verbs 

  • Observable and measurable

  • Aligned with learning activities and student performance

  • Aligned with requirements of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Committee for Academic Standards (CAS) 

Key Resources

Step 2: Submit a Course Proposal 

Faculty should follow the policies and deadlines for the course approval process. Please review the resources related to submissions to the CAS. Keep in mind the various course formats available at the Bloomberg School, as well as the CAS system deadlines (login required) for course proposals. If you plan to offer a fully online or blended course, you or your department chair must contact the director of the Bloomberg School’s Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), Sukon Kanchanaraksa. Once approved, an instructional designer will be assigned to work with you throughout the course design and development process.

Step 3: Meet with an Instructional Designer 

CTL instructional designers are available to assist with all phases of the course creation process, from course design to the development of assessments and activities, for online, blended, hybrid, and on-site courses. For fully online and blended courses, collaboration with an instructional designer is required. Once an instructional designer has been assigned to your course, they will schedule a planning meeting. The instructional design team uses the backward course design process and adapts other instructional design frameworks to assist you in developing quality courses. No matter the course format, you are welcome to consult with an instructional designer

Step 4: Create and Select Content 

During this phase, you will record the content for your course. Your slides, images, audio, and video will be recorded and edited by professionals at CTL and posted to your course’s CoursePlus site. You will have the opportunity to work with audio and video producers and meet with them in advance to plan and prepare. You will need to plan to record in the studio at least eight weeks before the content will open to students.

Key Resource

Step 5: Write Assessments and Activities 

Assessments provide a means to measure learner progress. They provide evidence that learning objectives are being met and that students are achieving the learning goals at determined course intervals. At the same time, assessments are a way to pinpoint misunderstandings and areas of potentially unanticipated importance to a particular cohort. Formative assessments may allow a course to evolve in small ways throughout the term, to ensure that the course meets the needs of the students.
Thoughtfully designed learning activities can allow students to learn course content and interact with their peers. Select activities that are organized by objective and appropriate learning level. When designing learning activities, you should also consider engaging students in active learning. Whereas assessments will measure whether learning objectives are being met, learning activities will promote mastery of the objectives. 

Develop Learning Objectives for Assessments and Activities

Learning objectives should be created for individual assessments and learning activities. These objectives should be aligned with the course objectives, should be carefully worded to provide clear direction, and should be specific, observable, and measurable.

How Do You Develop a Learning Objective?

A strong learning objective includes the following three components:

  • Performance—What are students expected to do?

  • Conditions—Under which conditions should the student perform?

  • Criteria—How well do students have to perform to be successful?

Use Bloom's taxonomy to help you write objectives that are appropriate for the rigor and level of the course. For more guidance, see the How to Guide: Writing Learning Objectives.

Key Resource

Step 6: Write a Syllabus

The course syllabus is like a contract that provides a descriptive summary of the course, policies, and resources while detailing expectations and specific commitments and accountabilities. Though there are required elements of a syllabus that may be scripted or static, Bloomberg faculty can personalize and style their syllabus so that it becomes more than just a rote part of a course. In developing the overview of course expectations of students and faculty, there is an opportunity to stimulate deeper and more active learning. In reviewing course objectives, assessments, and learning activities and considering the resources provided, it is possible to create a comprehensive and thought-provoking syllabus for your course.

Step 7: Prepare Your Course Site  

As the start date of your course approaches, it is time to finalize all readings and work with your instructional designer to prepare all quizzes, assignments, activities, assessments, instructions, and other information for students on the course’s CoursePlus site.


CoursePlus is the Bloomberg School’s course management system and provides a quick and easy pathway for students to find all relevant course materials, readings, assignments, and grading feedback. For more information, see the Overview of CoursePlus.

Step 8: Evaluate and Revise 

Evaluation is the process of reviewing instructional components, including assessments, learning activities, learning outcomes, course site navigation, and technology integration. It provides feedback on all other stages of the course creation process to inform revisions and the continual improvement of the course design. Evaluation ensures that the course instruction meets the identified instructional needs and effectively enables students to achieve the intended learning outcomes.

Course Debrief with an Instructional Designer

There is great benefit in examining with your instructional designer what parts of the course worked and what parts did not.

What to review before meeting with your instructional designer:

  • Course evaluations

  • Lecture evaluations

  • Quiz, grade book, and other course data

  • Notes on any issues or outstanding items that arose during the course run


Questions to consider for the meeting agenda: 

  • How did the course go? 

  • What went well? 

  • What did not go well? 

  • What are some solutions for issues?

  • Are revisions needed?

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