Distance Education and NonTraditional Programs

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Getting Started

Getting Started
Course Approval


This section provides instructions to begin the course development process. Before completing the Online/Hybrid Course Proposal Form, please confirm and/or keep the following in mind.

  • The course you wish to develop has not been previously developed for distance delivery. Contact Distance Education Faculty Services, at 904-8276, for a list of courses developed by faculty in your department. Development fees are paid only for courses which have not been previously designed for online or hybrid delivery.
  • The course has been approved by the University Curriculum Committee or the Graduate Council. Special Topics courses are the exception.
  • Faculty may wish to determine their readiness for online instruction by asking themselves these questions:
    • Will I be able to:
      • Project my presence in an online or ITV environment?
      • Cope with delayed feedback?
    • Do I know:
      • What I'm trying to achieve with my instruction?
      • What knowledge, skills and attitudes need to be taught?
      • How much content I need in my instruction?
      • What resources and strategies I can/will use?
      • How I'll structure the content?
      • How to assess whether students have met the objectives of the course?
    • Do I have good writing skills?
      • Can I communicate clearly and effectively through email?
  • You have reviewed the Online/Hybrid Course Guidelines, Peer Review Form, and Commonly Used Terms
  • A minimum of two semesters should be allowed for course development.
  • New online and hybrid courses are added to a semester schedule only after the peer review/approval process has been completed and no later than four weeks prior to the start of the semester.


Getting Started

Please follow the instructions below to begin the online or hybrid course development process.

1. Submit a Online/Hybrid Course Proposal Form. Submission of this form posts course information into the Distance Education Faculty Services database, and it is also automatically submitted to the course designer's chair or school director for development approval.

2. Submit a course syllabus (may be a draft), using the required Syllabus Template, to your department chair or school director; and to the Distance Education Faculty Services Office.

3. Sign the Online (or Hybrid) Course Development Agreement which is emailed to the course designer after the Course Proposal Form is received by Distance Education Faculty Services. The agreement should be signed and sent to the department chair/school director as soon as possible. It outlines course development and instruction expectations as well as the terms for compensation. Payment for course development cannot be made until this agreement is on file in the Distance Education Faculty Services Office. Also, development fees cannot be paid if course development is completed prior to the approval of the agreement.

4. Meet with assigned Online Faculty Mentor. Each course designer is assigned an Online Faculty Mentor (OFM) (a Certified Online Instructor) to provide course development advice and to conduct a peer review of the course when it is complete. First-time course designers are required to meet (before course development) with their assigned OFMs to discuss course design. The course designer may use the expertise of the assigned OFM as little or as much as needed during course development, the review/approval process, and initial course delivery. The name of the assigned OFM is sent in the email with the course development agreement.

5. Review Online/Hybrid Course Guidelines and the Peer Review Form prior to beginning course development.

  • The Peer Review Form serves several purposes in the course development, review and approval processes.
    • Course designers are encouraged to review and to use the Peer Review Form as a course development/redesign guide. This form contains the baseline elements required to complete an online/hybrid course. Incomplete courses are not accepted for peer review.
    • This form is used by the course designer to conduct a self-evaluation of the completed course.
    • The Peer Review Form is also used by the assigned Online Faculty Mentor (OFM) to conduct the peer review of the completed course.

6. Complete Desire2Learn (D2L) training. Desire2Learn (D2L) is the learning management system supported by MTSU and in which online and hybrid course content is housed. First-time faculty course designers are required to complete D2L training, provided by the Faculty Instructional Technology Center (FITC) staff, to become familiar with development and instructional tools. Two training options are provided:

  • One-on-one training/consultation sessions available by appointment by calling 615/904-8189. The FITC is located on the second floor of the Telecommunications Building on campus;
  • D2L workshops for which faculty may register.

Required Desire2Learn (D2L) training includes:

  • Introduction to D2L
  • Grading and Assessment
  • Communication Tools I – (Dropbox, Discussion Board, and Group Tool)
  • Communication Tools II – (Rubrics with a demonstration of the Competencies Tool)
  • Communication Tools III – (Email, Calendar, Chat, Blog, LiveRoom, Checklist, Classlist)

Required additional training:

  • Turnitin (an educational suite providing faculty assistance with evaluating student written works and is now accessed through the Desire2Learn (D2L) dropbox tool.)

Optional training:

  • Introduction to Elluminate (a virtual, interactive learning environment used to facilitate synchronous online course delivery, virtual office hours, and student presentations in a secure environment. Elluminate archives video/audio lectures and is integrated with Desire2Learn (D2L). To request access for their courses, faculty may complete and submit the request form.

When training is complete, the FITC trainer will sign the FITC Training Confirmation Form, and the course designer will forward it to Distance Education Faculty Services (Box 54).

Even though training is not required of experienced course designers, they are encouraged to discuss the design or redesign of their courses with FITC staff due to constant innovations in software/hardware and multimedia used in online course development/instruction.

If the required D2L training has not yet been completed, the course designer may contact the Faculty Instructional Technology Center (FITC) located in the Telecommunications Building at 615/904-8189 to schedule one-on-one consultations. Workshops are also available and may be scheduled online.

D2L Course Shells

A D2L shell in which to complete training and/or to begin course development is automatically established after registration for a D2L workshop or scheduling a one-on-one consultation. Faculty may, however, complete training and/or begin course design using an existing development shell. If a new D2L development shell is needed, faculty may request it by completing and submitting the Course Development Request Form.

D2L shells are created for every semester course. Semester shells must not be used for course development. If a semester shell is deleted, course content will be lost.

Course Approval

Instructions for course approval are included in the email with the online/hybrid course development agreement and OFM assignment. Detailed information may be found in the Course Approval section of this website.

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