Develop Your Online Course

Developing an online course is a complex process involving several tasks tightly bound together and executed in recursive loops. However, the whole process can be broken down into three main phases.

    1. Design your online course – set up your course framework
    2. Develop your online course – develop content and assessments for diverse learners
    3. Launch your online course – make course available to learners to participate

Course Development Checklist

Each phase (Design, Develop, and Launch) consists of specific tasks and sub-tasks. To help instructional designers and/or instructors stay on track and follow best practices as they develop their online course, ELO Design and Development has developed the Online Course Development Checklist, an interactive checklist with links to resources. If you would like to download this checklist, select the appropriate link in the left column.

The checklist is formatted as an Excel workbook with multiple worksheets. It includes:

  • An Overview (the first worksheet) on the three phases and tasks associated with each phase.
  • A worksheet for each task with a list of sub-tasks, resources, and corresponding checkboxes.

Although the tasks are laid out sequentially, they need not be performed in this manner. For e.g., in the Design phase it is not unusual to continue refining learning objectives while you develop instructional materials and assessments.

How to Use the Course Development Checklist

  • Review the tasks listed in the Checklist and make an inventory of resources at your disposal and tasks already completed. For e.g., you may have already identified the learning objectives for your course and decided on how to measure them.
  • Update the checklist by checking off the boxes for tasks you may have already addressed.
  • Proceed to address the remaining tasks.
  • As you check off the boxes and save the checklist, the status of the entire project gets updated in the Overview (first) sheet and provides a snapshot of the project’s progress.


  • If you are familiar designing courses online, feel free to download the checklist and use it as you develop your online course.
  • If you’re a novice or have minimal experience developing an online course, follow the checklist with the assistance of an instructional designer or a person experienced in online course design.

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