n: A detailed plan of action. Original plan or prototype that influences subsequent design or practice.

American Heritage Dictionary

When designing your course, it is essential to have a comprehensive plan. In online course design, this is often referred to as a course blueprint, and enables you to design with the big picture in mind to ensure you reach every milestone and build consistency throughout the curriculum. One of the most important products of this blueprint is a course syllabus, which conveys all of the critical information about the course to the learners and serve as their course guide.

Key elements of a blueprint include:

  • Course information
  • Course learning objectives and outcomes
  • Lesson topics and format
  • Learning resources
  • Activities and assessment

Course Information

Clearly identifying these elements will keep you organized during the course design process.

  • Course title and course code
  • Working course description
  • Degree/certification program
  • Required prerequisites and level

Course Learning Objectives and Outcomes

List all course outcomes and map them to specific learning objectives. Tie individual activities both to discrete objectives and outcomes. This mapping will provide a foundation for the course curriculum for learners to reach the instructional goals and ensures that the instructor is building a learning experience consistent with the goals of the overarching program or degree plan.

Lesson Topics and Format

Similar to face-to-face courses, the lesson can be introduced in a variety of formats. For online courses, it is especially important to consider the best approach for introducing all lessons. In this section of the blueprint, lay out the topic-specific learning materials and the format for delivery.


Measuring Learner Performance

Measurement Types

Determine the types of
assessment tools you plan
to use to measure learner
competence – whether it be
exams, projects, or papers.

Specific Requirements

Outline criteria to
identify levels of learner
performance using rubrics
and grading scales.

Learning Resources

There are extensive resources available to aid the learner in understanding knowledge and practicing and applying concepts.

These could include but are not limited to:

  • Course texts
  • Online resources
  • Multimedia assets

When evaluating the potential value of a learning resource for your course, take into consideration the ease of navigation. Material that is presented in multimedia formats can bolster learner engagement. Because individuals learn best in different ways (e.g., visually vs. auditory), the available resources should provide your learners with multiple pathways to comprehend the subject matter. Performing an inventory of your learning resources will help you map each one to specific course objectives as well as to categorize which resources are required materials and which are supplemental.

Activities and Assessment

How will you assess learning and student mastery of concepts? Start by tying assessment approaches to the learning objectives. If you are strategic in designing the process for measuring learner performance, you can remove bias from the evaluation process. These descriptors should be communicated to the learner at the beginning of the course so they know exactly how they will be assessed.