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Design Principles for TU Online Courses

The Center for Online and Extended Learning Design Team, in collaboration with Subject Matter Experts, and under the oversight TU’s Academic Units, strives to create online courses that embody the following principles:


Our courses are fully (and transparently) internally aligned so that all student activities and assignments contribute to the attainment of the stated course goals.

Design Thinking

Our courses are designed with our end users, and their learning experience, in mind.

Cognitive load

Our courses utilize clarity, structure, and rhythm to minimize unintended barriers to success and ensure that student effort is focused on the attainment of the learning outcomes.

Instructor Presence

Our courses utilize elements of actual, virtual, and meta-instructional faculty voice to create a sense that our instructors are “with” students as they navigate the course.

Authentic Assessment

The assessments and activities in our courses are tailored to provide opportunities for authentic, real- world, integrated learning that supports the course learning outcomes and reinforces the TU Core Competencies.

Formative Evaluation

Our courses feature authentic assessments that are evaluated by faculty in a Substantive, Actionable, and Timely manner. (Authenticity balanced with Faculty bandwidth)

Transparency/ Ownership of Our mode of Delivery

Our courses are fully transparent as to the facilitation role that our teaching faculty play. Our courses are designed by Subject Matter Experts, reviewed by academic leadership, and delivered by qualified professional faculty. They are not “one off” designs prepared and taught by the same faculty member.

Diversity of Course Materials

Whenever practicable, our courses will utilize a collection of Open Educational Resource, library articles and web-based materials that embrace diversity, broaden perspectives, increase relevance and currency, and mitigate student cost.

Student Voice

Our courses are designed to empower students with a voice and a stake in their learning. We will use multiple and varied avenues for student feedback to provide actionable data to inform our revision and improvement efforts. Likewise, our courses will utilize elements of “scalable engagement” to leverage student (intrinsic and extrinsic) motivations to cultivate opportunities for transformative learning in the attainment of course outcomes.

Learn more about how Online Learning Works