Power Up! Quality Course Design in Half the Time Designing Quality Online Courses

Jonathan Brooks (left) and Tracy Medrano (right), Instructional Designers at CSU San Bernardino
Professor Delia Ortega

Professor Delia Ortega is with the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Ethnic Studies Program at California State University, San Bernardino.

We partnered to design her hybrid course, Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality in the Lives of Women, using QM standards as a guide. The goal behind our design effort was to created a memorable blended course experience where students could meaningful engage in the learning process and to achieve QM course certification.

Course Map

Used QM critical course components (2.1, 2.2 Learning Objectives, 3.1 Assessment and Measurement, 4.1 Instructional Materials, 5.1 Activities and Learner Interaction, 6.1 Technology) to guide our process.

The Value

The visual approach helped guide the process and conversation. Mapping out critical course components (2.1, 2.2 Learning Objectives, 3.1 Assessment and Measurement, 4.1 Instructional Materials, 5.1 Learning Activities and Learner Interaction, and 6.1 Course Technology) allowed us to become deeply involved in the design process. Throughout the process we would step back and look at the layout of all components to quickly and easily spot gaps. This allowed us to focus our attention on areas that needed improvement to achieve consistency, clarity, and alignment. The visual strategy proved to be an effective and efficient approach to blended course design for our team.

Putting It All Together in Blackboard: Starting With a Template

Designing the Course


  • Course Map
  • Blooms Taxonomy
  • QA Instrument
  • Create/use a template


  • Have all course elements organized in a folder on your computer
  • Consistency
  • Section overview
  • Micro lectures and warp up videos, 2-3 minutes
  • Instructor Presence
  • Welcome and intro from the instructor
  • Set expectations
  • Student resources
  • Communicate often w/students
  • Provide feedback often
  • Send reminders
  • Use technology and offer varirty

What does a poorly designed/taught online course look like and feel like?

What The Students Thought

Student that took the Ethnic Studies course completed a course design survey. Based on the responses, student's indicated they either strongly agreed or agreed the course was well organized and easy to navigate, the objectives were made clear, the criteria for meeting objectives was made clear, and the activities and assessments were clearly connected to the objectives.

"I really liked that the course was easy to navigate around it was simple and it pretty much make a check list for you and the assignments you have to complete for the week."

"I liked how there were videos that were relatable to the material but were also relatable to what is currently happening today."

"I also liked how the discussion board was primary about using what we learned and saying it in our words. there are classes that dont let us express ourselves and out points of view which is what i liked about this one as it really let me voice what i thought."

"I liked how everything was broken down into weeks, so whatever that needed to be accomplished or was learned was in one folder so we didn't have to go searching for the information."

lessons learned and best practices

  • Start early
  • Include the entire team from the very beginning
  • Time management and communication is key
  • 100% commitment from everyone involved
  • Set a structured schedule/timeline with wiggle to make adjustments
  • Have a good understanding of Quality Matters
  • Design with standards in mind
  • Always keep the students perspective and experience in mind
  • Informal QM course review before and after the course design

From our faculty; The Value of QM Course Design

  • Rethinking Pedagogy
  • Importance of alignment
  • Enhanced student engagement
  • Improved the student experience
  • Improved student's understanding of course expectations and navigation
Jonathan Brooks (left) and Tracy Medrano (right), Instructional Designers at CSU San Bernardino


Created with images by Mimi Thian - "untitled image" • Prostock-studio - "Smiling Arabic Girl Watching Webinar On Laptop While Sitting In Office" • ivanko80 - "Young business people in modern office" • Brooke Cagle - "Sponsored by Google Chromebooks" • J. Kelly Brito - "Brainstorming"