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A framework for creating and displaying your course.

This article applies to: Online and Blended Learning

Developing an online course, or adapting an existing in-person course, can be time-consuming, and planning enough time in your schedule will be important to the quality of your course. In this section, you will cover creating new content, reviewing content for online, and developing your course media.

The Cornell-supported Learning Management System (LMS) for credit-bearing courses is Blackboard. For detailed information, see Blackboard Help.

Course Content

Contact us for a discussion on how to get started at Instructional Designers are available to consult with you.

Best Practices for Creating Engaging Content:


  • Create content as pages within the LMS in place of attachments and downloads.

  • Create a “Welcome” or “Start Here” section that contains all of your introductory materials, and helps students get oriented to your online course.

  • Build a section where students can find course information: syllabus, calendar, assignment information and instructions, and links to help resources.

  • Use descriptive titles for course sections and files (e.g. Week 2 Readings).

  • Set links to open in new pages to help students with navigation.

  • Layout the course in the order that students will engage with it.


  • Incorporate engaging and diverse activities that include reflection and interaction with the content and each other.

  • Create a discussion forum for students to express their questions and concerns, and for you to respond publicly.

  • Make sure that students are able to connect with you, provide email and contact information, office hours or your availability online, and feedback and response times.


  • Create or use text with a linked/navigable table of contents.

  • Break into small pieces with clear headings.

  • Use a program to allow students to annotate.

  • Write your content in an informal, personalized tone. This helps build personal rapport with you through the online medium.


Use or create videos that:

  • Help students get to know you as a real human and create personal connections. See Create an Introductory Video.

  • Tell a story.

  • Show things that are difficult to see in person (slow motion, etc.).

  • Provide students with experience of seeing a new place.


  • Ensure that most graphics serve a purpose (limit images that are purely for decoration).

  • Label graphics clearly.

Note: For assistance using Blackboard and specific how-to guides for building in the LMS, please visit Blackboard Help.

Developing Your Media

Learners are more likely to make cognitive connections when content is presented in multiple modes. This principle of integrating multimedia (i.e. images, audio, video, etc.) in your content encourages learners to make connections between what they receive visually and what they receive verbally through written text.  

For specific information and step-by-step guidance with creating video, images, and multimedia content, please view:


As you build your online or blended course, ensuring that your course materials are accessible is important. For more detailed information and guidance, visit the Accessibility page.

Review Your Course

It is important to take the time to perform continuous quality review throughout the design and development of your course, rather than waiting until the very end. This allows you to make iterative improvements along the way. Upon completion of your course, you should do a final comprehensive quality review ensuring all quality standards are met.

About this Article

Last updated: 

Friday, March 9, 2018 - 12:56pm



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