While many of these are directed at online course development, these resources may also be used in planning and developing your face-to-face, web-enhanced and hybrid classes. The Teaching & Learning Center is available to help with any questions or problems you may encounter during the course development process.

Learning Theories

Learning theories describe how we learn, remember and apply knowledge. There are several learning theories that can influence your course design, including behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism and connectivism.

Each approach to learning has its own strengths and weaknesses, and good design often combines multiple learning theories within a class.


Instructional objectives provide guidance on what students should be able to do at the end of the course, chapter and/or lesson. They should always be specific and measurable.

There are three domains of learning, each with a specific purpose:

  • Cognitive (thinking)
  • Affective (feelings and attitude)
  • Psychomotor (doing)

The cognitive domain is the most-used, but the others should not be ignored.

  • Bloom’s Taxonomy – Domains and Hierarchy Infographic : a hierarchy of levels of learning for the three domains
  • Writing Instructional Objectives : guidelines for writing objectives, with common verbs for each of the three domains
    Waller, Kathy V. “Writing Instructional Objectives.” NAACLS (2007).
  • Action Verbs With Examples: suggestions for verbs that can lead to measurable, observable objectives

For existing classes, the objectives should not be changed without specific authorization from the dean or the vice president of academics. These are approved by the College, and many are TAG approved. New or revised objectives must be approved by Academic Affairs before being implemented.


The course syllabus serves as a contract between you and your students, as well as a clear plan through the course. It should clearly state:

  • What students will accomplish in this course
  • What students are expected to do
  • The standards they will be graded on
  • What you will do and when

The syllabus may be altered during the class due to unforeseen circumstances, but if this occurs, students should be notified right away.

Remember that the syllabus should also be a plan through the class. This means there should be a clear, definable goal at the end. Deciding at the end of one class what will be done next time is not a plan and neither is simply following through the chapters in the textbook. Developing a good plan requires careful thought, clear definition and creative organization.

  • NSCC Syllabus Format: this template lists all required elements of your syllabus for a class at Northwest State
  • Creating an Effective Online Syllabus: in an online class, the syllabus should be more detailed, as things can’t be clarified in class
    “Chapter 4: Creating an Effective Online Syllabus.” Teaching Online: A Practical Guide. Houghton Mifflin, 2001

Optional Syllabus Statements
Below are items you may choose to include in your course syllabus.

Acceptable file types submitted in Sakai:
Northwest State Community College will not accept Google Documents submitted for assignments within Sakai unless that format is specifically requested by the instructor. If you are using Google Drive to compose your assignment, you must convert it to a different format before submitting it. The preferred format is Microsoft Word (.docx or .doc), although Rich Text (.rtf) may also be accepted. If you need help converting a Google document, guides are available on the Teaching & Learning Center website, Technology Guides and Tutorials page, under Sakai.

Acceptable file types submitted in Sakai Alternative (Change as needed):
For this class, acceptable file types for assignments include:

  • Microsoft Word 2007 and newer (.docx)
  • Microsoft Word 2003 and older (.doc)
  • Microsoft Excel 2007 and newer (.xlsx)
  • Microsoft Excel 2003 and older (.xls)
  • Microsoft PowerPoint 2007 and newer (.pptx)
  • Microsoft PowerPoint 2003 and older (.ppt)
  • Rich Text (.rtf)
  • PDF
  • Open Document (.odt)

Any other file types, including Google Documents or Apple Pages, will not be accepted, and you may receive a zero for that assignment. If you need help converting documents to an acceptable format, guides are available on the Teaching & Learning Center website, Technology Guides and Tutorials page, under Sakai.

Library Research:
NSCC Library is your best first resource for class papers and projects. Start with the library website at http://library.northweststate.edu. There are many helpful links to get you started, including the library’s top research databases, which will give you instant access to articles. You are also welcome to come to the library, call us at 419.267.1274 during open hours, or email us anytime at library@northweststate.edu.


Part of instruction is assessing how well students learned and can apply the material. Usually, the most common methods are multiple-choice tests, but these do not always measure what students should be learning.

Multiple-choice tests usually only test on the lower levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, remembering and understanding. How can you assess higher-level learning?

Authentic, or alternative, assessments are activities that require students to apply, analyze, evaluate and create objects or phenomenon, similar to how a practitioner would in the real world. Examples of authentic assessment activities can include:

  • Annotated bibliographies
  • Debate or role play
  • Demonstrations or exhibitions
  • Essays
  • Fact sheet
  • Interviews
  • Journals
  • Media creation (poster, video)
  • Newspaper op-ed
  • Observations
  • Oral reports
  • Portfolios
  • Research proposals
  • Reviews
  • Writing or revising Wikipedia articles


Rubrics are tools that list out the important criteria for an activity or assignment and provide levels of quality for each. Rubrics can be used to make the grading process quicker, fairer and more transparent.

If the rubric for an assignment is provided to students with the instructions, it helps clarify the expectations for students.

  • Designing Scoring Rubrics for Your Classroom: this article looks at the different types of rubrics (analytic and holistic) and the steps involved in creating effective rubrics
    Mertler, Craig A. (2001). Designing scoring rubrics for your classroom. Practicsl Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 7(25).
  • Scoring Rubrics: What, When and How? : more tips on developing scoring rubrics
    Moskal, Barbara M. (2000). Scoring rubrics: what, when and how?. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 7(3).

Sample Rubrics
These rubrics are provided as examples. You should modify the criteria and scale to fit your assignment and expectations.

Rubric Generators/Collections
You may use these sites to find more sample rubrics, or create your own.

Copyright and Fair Use

Material provided by textbook publishers, in publications or found online is subject to US copyright laws. This includes documents, pictures, videos, music, artwork and more. There is an abundance of material available online, but using it in your class can infringe on copyright.

Can I Use It?
Do you have permission from the copyright holder?
If you receive permission from the copyright holder, you may use the material. Textbook publishers give permission for the digital media that accompanies your text, as long as your class is using their book. If you find materials online, you may email the individual or organization that produced it for permission to use it.

Does the material use the Creative Commons license?
Creative Commons is an alternative to copyright that includes the rights to use, copy and distribute the material freely, as long as credit is given to the original producer. The license may show other restrictions, such as non-commercial use only, share-alike or no modification. Some search engines, such as Bing, let you search specifically for Creative Commons media. A description of each of the Creative Commons license types is available from creativecommons.org.

Does it fall under the fair use guidelines?
Fair use is a limited exception to copyright for purposes such as criticism, reviews, news reporting, teaching and research. There are four criteria that are considered when evaluating fair use:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work

All four criteria must apply to the situation in order to claim the fair use exception.

Fair Use Checklist
This fair use checklist, developed by Kenneth D. Crewes at Columbia University and Dwayne K. Buttler of the University of Louisville, has been used to help educators, librarians and others determine if their use of copyrighted material falls within the fair use exceptions.

This checklist can help you focus on the circumstances that are most important in your evaluation of fair use. The scope of fair use varies by circumstance, and what may be permitted in one scenario would be prohibited in another. The checklist can also be a useful way to document your decision-making process. You can keep completed checklists on file for future reference.

As you use the checklist, you are likely to check multiple boxes for each criterion, in both the favor and oppose fair use columns. The ultimate question is whether the weight of factors favors or opposes fair use for each of the four criteria. This isn’t just about the number of boxes checked for each, but the relative circumstances. Each of the four criteria must favor fair use in order for you to claim this exemption.

Media Creation

While there is an abundance of videos, presentations, podcasts and other media available online or provided by publishers, it can be more effective to create your own media for your classes. Remember, if you create a video or podcast, captions or a transcript should be provided.

  • Why Create Your Own?: This is a list of reasons why you should consider creating your own presentations, notes, handouts, podcasts or videos. This also includes times when it is best to use professionally created media.
  • Video and Podcast Creation Process: This is an overview of the process involved in creating your own videos or podcasts. This doesn’t go in to the specifics of any program or tool, but gives the steps and things to consider as you plan and create your own media.
  • 7 Things to Know about Lecture Capture: seven key things to know about creating videos to replace lectures in blended and online classes

While your presentations from face-to-face classes are a good place to start when developing content for online classes, simply uploading your lecture presentations is not effective. You will need to adapt them for the environment.

How much of the content is actually on the slides themselves, and how much relies on your lecture? Without the lecture, will the slides make sense? There are two paths – create documents discussing the major points that include all of the details, or record your lecture with the slides.

Online Course Development

When designing an online course or course website, it is important to make certain it will be accessible to all students, including those with visual, hearing, motor or cognitive impairments.