Take a Peak Into Sample ODL Online Course Designs

I’m really excited to share this new resource from the Office of Digital Learning. We’ve created a public resource so that anyone can now sample a handful of online courses that ODL has designed for OU Online programs via a public URL. Our instructional designers reached out to a number of our online instructors, and I am incredibly thankful to those who allowed us to publish portions of their courses.


We’ve built this resource for a few reasons:

First, we want to expose OU instructors to what the final products of a well-designed online course look like. While the majority of our faculty have some experience with Canvas and may have pivoted to remote teaching at some point over the past couple of years, most of them haven’t seen a course intentionally designed for online learning. This allows instructors to “begin with the end in mind” as they consider how they want to design their course. One hope is that this resource will allow the start to envision their course in its new context.

Second, we wanted to show the range of pedagogical choices that can be made in online. Over time, we have noticed that some faculty have a preconceived idea of not only a.) what online learning looks like but b.) what ODL-built courses look like.

The truth is, while we do build within a templated course shell, we are not overly prescriptive as to what an instructor must do. Subject matter experts (who are often also the instructor in our case) work with an instructional designer to come up with student experiences that are very different based on many factors. IDs help SMEs critically think through factors such as the course’s learning objectives, discipline-specific needs, and program-level requirements and discuss the pros and cons of various design decisions. After an initial design consultation, ODL will craft a design document that captures the conversation.

To visualize the learner experience of each course design, ODL uses the Learning Environment Modeling Language developed out of the UCO’s LX Studio. An example is below:

LEML Chart for ACCT 5353 : Financial Statement Analysis

As shown in the chart above, this is an example of a course that has both asynchronous and synchronous learning. In Sample Courses, you can see courses that range from fully asynchronous to courses with weekly synchronous sessions. Some courses are project-based while others are discussion-driven. Some integrate publisher materials while others lean on student reflections and building a portfolio. You can see courses with a lot of produced media and courses with none. The truth is there are MANY ways to create a good online learning experience for students.

In addition to showing a variety of design choices, our Sample Courses are cross-discipline. We aim to show design approaches taken in the social sciences, business, STEM, and the arts. For each course available in Sample Courses, we’ve provided Course Details and a brief Description of the course. An example is provided below:

P E 5673 LNG Project Design & Market Analysis

Course Details

  • Number of Weeks: 14 weeks
  • Delivery Method: Mostly asynchronous (6 Live Sessions)
  • Course Features: Lecture videos and homework


This is a 16-week course with significant formative assessments that invite students to practice and reflect on their learning as they move through the course. There are weekly readings, narrated slide presentations, and homework assignments, which are strictly used to check student progress. Homework allows learners to apply course concepts to their professional careers (if employed in the industry) or to real-world industry issues. For example, students are asked to analyze case studies, make calculations, and create action plans. Students use current industry reports and datasets to complete their course assignments.

Students also have the opportunity to review their assignments in Zoom Live Sessions with the professor.

Finally, we built Sample Courses as a way to celebrate the accomplishments of the collective team. If you have gone through the experience of designing a fully online course, you know that it is no easy feet. Our courses touch a lot of hands. In addition to the SME and the ID, we have course developers, academic multimedia specialists, educational technologists, and even graduate assistants putting fingerprints on the course before students see it. Embedded in the DNA of ODL is celebrating the work of our community, so this is a good step towards showcasing some of our favorites.

We enjoy being a part of the broader collective conversation around online learning and academic innovation and love sharing our resources. We’ve been the benefactor of many folks at other schools who has been willing to share access to their resources. While these courses are only meant to meet OU students within a specific context, I am excited to see how others may interact with our work.

Featured Image: Adapted from a Photo by Yugantar Sambhangphe from Pexels.