Syllabus for OLT-630



How is instructional design for online learning different from instructional design for other modes of delivering instruction? This course provides critical discussion of and practice in the ideas and practices that enhance quality in online learning.

The course is designed for teachers who wish to develop effective online courses. Through readings and course discussions, you will gather and evaluate instructional material appropriate for online teaching and apply good instructional design principles to online teaching situations. You will explore specific issues related to online courses and will plan, implement, and evaluate strategies that present the material to promote student learning in your classes.


After successfully completing this course, you should be able to:

  1. Identify key principles of instructional design.
  2. Determine learner characteristics for instructional design in online learning.
  3. Analyze the characteristics and learning styles of the potential online students in your online course.
  4. Develop and evaluate instructional materials appropriate to the online learning environment.
  5. Design and implement an evaluation rubric to measure student progress in your online course.


You will need the following textbook to complete the work of the course. The required textbook is available from the University's textbook supplier, MBS Direct.

  • Robert A. Reiser and John V. Dempsey, Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology, 3d ed. (Boston: Pearson Allyn & Bacon, 2012).

ISBN-13: 978-0132563581


Issues in Instructional Design in Online Learning is a three-credit online course consisting of eleven modules. Each module, in turn, includes a brief overview, list of topics, objectives, study materials (textbook readings, articles on the Internet and in full-text databases, and informational Web sites), and assignments in the form of discussion forums and application activities.

In the discussion forums, you interact with your classmates by completing defined activities and discussing assigned questions based on readings from the text and other Web-based material. Although you set your own schedule and work at your own pace, this is not an independent study course. While you are not required to meet "in real time," you must log on and participate in the discussions on a regular basis.  


For your formal work in the course, you are required to participate fully in twelve online discussion forums (including an Introductions Forum) and ten application activities/forums.

Communication among fellow students and with the mentor is a critical component of online learning, and active participation is required to pass this course. Participation in online discussions involves two distinct activities: an initial response to a posted question (discussion topic) and subsequent comments on classmates' responses. Meaningful participation is relevant to the content, adds value, and advances the discussion. Comments such as "I agree" and "ditto" are not considered value-adding participation. Therefore, when you agree or disagree with a classmate, the reading, or your mentor, state and support your agreement or disagreement. You will be evaluated on the quality and quantity of your participation. Responses and comments should be properly proofread and edited, professional, and respectful.

Deadlines for posting discussion threads are given in the Course Calendar.

For posting guidelines and additional help with discussion board assignments, please see the Student Handbook located within the General Information area of the course Web site.

Click the link below for an evaluation rubric that will aid in the grading of online discussion forums.


Your grade in the course will be determined as follows:

All activities will receive a numerical grade of 0–100. You will receive a score of 0 for any work not submitted. Your final grade in the course will be a letter grade. Letter grade equivalents for numerical grades are as follows:
























Below 73

To receive credit for the course, you must earn a letter grade of C or higher on the weighted average of all assigned course work (e.g., assignments, discussion postings, projects, etc.). Graduate students must maintain a B average overall to remain in good academic standing.


First Steps to Success

To succeed in this course, take the following first steps:

Study Tips

Consider the following study tips for success:


Thomas Edison State University is committed to maintaining academic quality, excellence, and honesty. The University expects all members of its community to share the commitment to academic integrity, an essential component of a quality academic experience.

Students at Thomas Edison State University are expected to exhibit the highest level of academic citizenship. In particular, students are expected to read and follow all policies, procedures, and program information guidelines contained in publications; pursue their learning goals with honesty and integrity; demonstrate that they are progressing satisfactorily and in a timely fashion by meeting course deadlines and following outlined procedures; observe a code of mutual respect in dealing with mentors, staff, and other students; behave in a manner consistent with the standards and codes of the profession in which they are practicing; keep official records updated regarding changes in name, address, telephone number, or e-mail address; and meet financial obligations in a timely manner. Students not practicing good academic citizenship may be subject to disciplinary action including suspension, dismissal, or financial holds on records.

All members of the University community are responsible for reviewing the Academic Code of Conduct Policy in the University Catalog and online at

Academic Dishonesty

Thomas Edison State University expects all of its students to approach their education with academic integrity—the pursuit of scholarly activity free from fraud and deception. All mentors and administrative staff members at the University insist on strict standards of academic honesty in all courses. Academic dishonesty undermines this objective. Academic dishonesty can take the following forms:


Thomas Edison State University is committed to helping students understand the seriousness of plagiarism, which is defined as using the work and ideas of others without proper citation. The University takes a strong stance against plagiarism, and students found to be plagiarizing are subject to discipline under the academic code of conduct policy.

If you copy phrases, sentences, paragraphs, or whole documents word-for-word—or if you paraphrase by changing a word here and there—without identifying the author, or without identifying it as a direct quote, then you are plagiarizing. Please keep in mind that this type of identification applies to Internet sources as well as to print-based sources. Copying and pasting from the Internet, without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources, constitutes plagiarism. (For information about how to cite Internet sources, see Online Student Handbook > Academic Standards > “Citing Sources.”)

Accidentally copying the words and ideas of another writer does not excuse the charge of plagiarism. It is easy to jot down notes and ideas from many sources and then write your own paper without knowing which words are your own and which are someone else’s. It is more difficult to keep track of each and every source. However, the conscientious writer who wishes to avoid plagiarizing never fails to keep careful track of sources.

Always be aware that if you write without acknowledging the sources of your ideas, you run the risk of being charged with plagiarism.

Clearly, plagiarism, no matter the degree of intent to deceive, defeats the purpose of education. If you plagiarize deliberately, you are not educating yourself, and you are wasting your time on courses meant to improve your skills. If you plagiarize through carelessness, you are deceiving yourself.

For examples of unintentional plagiarism, advice on when to quote and when to paraphrase, and information about writing assistance and originality report checking, click the links provided below.

Examples of Unintentional Plagiarism

When to Quote and When to Paraphrase

Writing Assistance at Smarthinking

Originality Report Checking at Turnitin

Disciplinary Process for Plagiarism

Acts of both intentional and unintentional plagiarism violate the Academic Code of Conduct.

If an incident of plagiarism is an isolated minor oversight or an obvious result of ignorance of proper citation requirements, the mentor may handle the matter as a learning exercise. Appropriate consequences may include the completion of tutorials, assignment rewrites, or any other reasonable learning tool in addition to a lower grade for the assignment or course. The mentor will notify the student and appropriate dean of the consequence by e-mail.

If the plagiarism appears intentional and/or is more than an isolated incident, the mentor will refer the matter to the appropriate dean, who will gather information about the violation(s) from the mentor and student, as necessary. The dean will review the matter and notify the student in writing of the specifics of the charge and the sanction to be imposed.

Possible sanctions include:


  1. How are the discussion forums graded?—See Assessments, above. You will be required to start a new thread with your answer to the discussion question(s) posed and to reply to other postings.

  1. How long should the responses be in the discussions?—You are required to read the material in the lesson and to comment on it. Use thoughtful comments, not quick answers. Please write more than one or two sentences; however, quality, not quantity, counts. Be sure you completely answer all questions and explain your answers, using complete paragraphs, not outlines.

  1. Why is online discussion required?—Studies have shown that students who participate in online discussion feel less isolated and learn more. In this class the discussions require you to develop materials to share with your fellow students.

  1. Are points deducted in assignments for spelling and grammar?—The discussion text editor has a spell checker, which you are expected to use. Many Internet users have developed a shorthand notation style (e.g., "u" instead of "you"). Nevertheless, this is a graduate course, and formal writing style is required.

  1. How long before my work is graded?—Mentors aim to grade within 72 hours and often can do so more quickly than that. Sometimes they are away, and if a computer is not accessible, they may be a little slower. They do realize you would like quick responses to your work and try to grade and return to you as quickly as possible.

  1. Where are the assignments and the schedule?—Assignments are given in each module. The Calendar indicates when each module begins and due dates for each assignment.

  1. What is the policy on plagiarism?—You are expected to do your own work. Please cite sources other than the text  you use. Don't just copy from the readings. Put your responses in your own words. Thomas Edison State University has a strong policy on plagiarism. Please see the Student Handbook located within the General Information area of the course Web site.

  1. What is the etiquette for online discussions?—All in-class discussion postings are considered confidential to the class. The rules of common courtesy apply. If you experience any problems (this has not happened in the past), please contact the mentor immediately. It is difficult to be funny online. Be sure your humor is appropriate. If the mentor wants to quote any of your postings, he or she will ask your permission. Please do not quote other students' work outside this class without their permission.

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