New Course Development Milestone Resources


The first four milestones in your course development contract mirror the stages of Backward Design.  The last three milestones are the steps for the course review process required by VSCC for online courses. Dates for the milestones below are listed in your contract.

  1. Submit Topics and Objectives
  2. Submit Activities, Assessments and Assessment Criteria
  3. Submit Instructional Resources
  4. Submit Syllabus and Get Started Here Module
  5. Submit Course Locations for Guideline Review, Part I
  6. Complete Remediation from Guideline Review, Part I
  7. Complete Remediation from Guideline Review, Part II

What is Backward Design?

Watch this 2:30 minute overview of the backward design process. It will help to set the stage for meeting the milestones of your course development project.


Milestone 1

Deliverable: Topics and Objectives

Milestone 1 is Stage 1 of Backward Design, identifying the goals or desired results. Be sure to start with your department’s approved course outcomes. At a minimum, the course needs to have course level outcomes/objectives. Typically, this will the department outcomes, a list of 6-12 (though it may be more) overarching goals for the course.

Next, we recommend that course developers also identify module-level objectives. Typically, this is a list of 3 - 4 objectives that students will achieve during that module. Each module objective should help move students toward the course outcomes.

Use some of the tools below to brainstorm and identify topics and objectives for this course.

Writing Learning Objectives Overview video

Watch this 4:32 minute overview of writing learning objectives.

Tools for Creating Objectives

All instructors want their students to recognize and recall information but most of the time we do not want it to stop there. Bloom’s Taxonomy helps you to be purposeful in incorporating “higher order thinking skills” into your course. Writing outcomes/objectives with verbs that are aligned to the upper end of Bloom’s Taxonomy helps to promote deeper learning for your students.

Here are some resources for Bloom’s Taxonomy:

Milestone 2

Deliverable: Assessments, Assessment Criteria and Activities

Milestone 2 is Stage 2 of Backward Design. In this stage, you will be determining the acceptable evidence of learning.

One powerful word to use during this stage is the word “by.” Take the objectives/outcomes that you created in the previous stage and add the word “by” at the end. Then brainstorm ways that you could have students demonstrate that they have mastered that objective/outcome. In the examples below real VSCC outcomes/objectives are listed followed by the assessment that will be used to determine the evidence of learning.

  • Explain the difference between implicit and explicit meaning by completing a short answer quiz question. (ENGL 1030)
  • Choose appropriate technologies for workplace communication by responding to five workplace communication scenarios with the appropriate technology and the message the student would communicate. (BUSN 1310)
  • Use Venn Diagrams to visualize a survey’s results by drawing a Venn diagram that is a visual representation of the provided data of a survey. (MATH 1010)
  • Differentiate between the various types of torts and identify the liability of the health information professional by completing a short answer assignment listing the 3 types of torts, giving an example of each type and comparing corporate negligence to vicarious liability. (HIMT 1302)
  • Identify problems we face in modern society and understand some of their complexities by participating in weekly discussion boards on the topics of: Poverty & Class Inequality, Race & Ethnicity, Gender & Sexuality, Aging, Education, Media, Family, Work & the Economy, Crime, Alcohol & Other Drugs, Medicine & Health Care, Urbanization, and Science & Technology (SOCI 1040)
  • Distinguish between magma and lava by selecting the correct label when given a visual sample or a written description of the sample. (GEOL 1030)

Important: The verb that is used in your outcome/objective should match the assessment. Look at the first objective. The verb “explain” is used as students have an opportunity to explain in a short answer response. If the assessment had been a multiple-choice question where the student would select the correct comparison of implicit and explicit, the verb “explain” does not match. It would be better to change the verb to “identify” or “indicate” or “recall.” If needed, change the verb to match your assessment.

Once you have identified how you will assess the learning, you will create assignments and assessments for your modules, units and course.

Tools for Creating Assessments, Assessment Criteria and Activities

You may want to skim through this detailed guide for writing effective test questions. There are sections for all types of question types: multiple choice, true/false, matching, fill-in-the-blank, essay items and additional test writing tips.

Writing Good Multiple-Choice Test Questions

Writing Discussion Prompts

Creating Assessment Criteria

Milestone 3

Deliverable: Instructional Resources

Milestone 3 is Stage 3 of Backward Design. In this stage, you will be planning learning experiences and instruction. Now that you’ve identified how students will be assessed, you will ensure that they are taught the concepts and skills necessary to be successful. While the course textbook is often the backbone of instruction, in online courses, it is important to provide instructional resources that go beyond just the publisher materials for your course.

Tools for Creating and Curating Instructional Resources

When adding instructional resources to your course, strive to add variety in the format and variety in the source or “voice”. Adding variety to the format helps to keep learning engaging and adding variety to the source adds expanded viewpoints and ideas.

Library Resources

Creating Your Own Instructor Videos

Search the Web

  • Check blogs and websites that are valued in your discipline
  • Find interviews or podcasts with experts in your field

Improve on Publisher Resources

  • Take the provided PowerPoint slides and create a screencast so students hear your voice explaining the concept and see the slide image.
  • Link to/embed publisher videos into course pages.

Milestone 4

Deliverable: Syllabus and Get Started Here Module

Milestone 4 is where you sum up all of your work in the first three milestones. The goal is to provide a concise overview of the course, orient students to your expectations and introduce/remind students to key support resources.

Tools for Creating Your Syllabus and Get Started Here Module

  • Template pages- your course was already populated with sample pages. Read each page and section. Update the language of each section to reflect your course and your style.
  • Ensure your Syllabus meets the requirements listed in the Faculty Handbook (page 22).

Milestone 5

Deliverable: Course Locations for Guideline Review, Part I

Milestone 5 kicks off the formal course review process. As you have developed your course, your instructional designer has helped you meet many of the review guidelines along the way. For Milestone 5 you will submit the course locations of the items listed in Part 1 A and 1 B. Typically, these items will be found in your Get Started Here Module. Submit these locations using the Guideline Review instrument.

Once you’ve submitted the course locations, your instructional designer will complete part 1 of the review. You will be notified of any items in part 1 that need to be updated to meet the guidelines.

Milestone 6

Deliverable: Remediation from Guideline Review, Part I

If the course has items that need to be updated to meet the guidelines, the remediation needs to be complete by the date of Milestone 6. If no remediation is necessary, the review will move directly on to Part 2, the Team Review.

Milestone 7

Deliverable: Remediation from Guideline Review, Part II

The Review Team will complete part 2 of the review. You will be notified, by the Team Lead, of any items in part 2 that need to be updated to meet the guidelines. If the course has items that need to be updated to meet the guidelines, the remediation needs to be complete by the date of Milestone 7.


Article ID: 77954
Wed 5/8/19 3:18 PM
Wed 5/22/19 4:27 PM