Course Development Process

Sullivan University employs a master course model for its online program. Faculty and Instructional Designers work together to build the inventory of master courses. Then each term, according to the university’s needs, Instructional Technologists create copies of the masters for use as course sections. Instructors may enhance their sections any way they see fit, but they cannot subtract from the baseline content of the approved master.

The normal course development process spans three terms in advance of the term by which the academic unit needs the course to be ready for use.

Pre-Development Term – 3 Terms before the Ready-by Term

In order to request a course development, a department must have a standard Sullivan University course map for the course. The course map lists the relevant programmatic outcomes and assessment measures, as detailed in the Assessment Plan on file with the Planning and Evaluation Coordinating Council (PECC). The course map then lists  and maps course-level objectives back to the programmatic outcomes. Finally the course map lists:

  • Weekly student learning objectives
  • How weekly objectives map to course-level objectives
  • How instructional content supports weekly objectives
  • How assessments and assignments measure student performance on weekly objectives

If the course uses commercial vendor content, a department must secure verification from Information Technology and the Blackboard Administrator, that the vendor content is compatible with SU systems and cost controls. See the Vendor Vetting Process.

With course map and the vendor approval in-hand, the academic unit’s leader orders the course using the Online Course Development Request form, and names the Subject Matter Expert (SME) selected to create the course. Instructional Design issues a SME Agreement, detailing the work responsibilities and the developmental timeline. Upon return of the signed agreement, Instructional Design assigns an Instructional Designer (ID) as the project manager to work with the SME.

During the pre-development term, if untrained, the SME completes the SME Training Course. The SME must pass the course before working on the course with the ID.

Intake Term (2 terms before the Ready-by Term)

Following the pre-development term is the intake term. During the intake term, the SME creates and selects all instructional content, in accordance with the course map and production timeline, and transmits the content to the ID using standard templates. The ID vets all incoming content for conformity with the course map, and ensures alignment between objectives, content, and assessments. At the conclusion of the intake term, upon receipt of all content and completion of vetting, the ID arranges payment for the SME, according to the terms of the agreement.

Development Term (1 term before the Ready-by Term)

Following the intake term is the development term, during which the ID builds the course within the learning management system (currently Blackboard). When the ID completes the work, the ID requests a quality assurance review, which entails another ID carefully reviewing the course in accordance with a detailed review checklist. Following any corrections, the ID provides the ordering academic unit leader with the final approval form. Once the academic leader signs the final approval, the course is ready for use.

Ready-by Term

As of the ready-by term, the Instructional Technologists can copy sections from the master as needed. If instructors or students encounter problems or errors, they notify the Instructional Technologists at