Online Course Design Tool for Schools, NonProfits, Businesses

By Lillian Williams

Designing an online course?  George Joeckel and his colleagues at Utah State University have developed a free, PDF course design tool.

PDF Viewers: iPad, iPhone, and Kindle

PDF Viewers: iPad, iPhone, and Kindle (Photo credit: Yutaka Tsutano)

This tool allows instructors to create a schedule–or blueprint–of an online course in PDF form using Adobe Reader. The course design “blueprint” serves as a guide to an  instructor’s web pages, quizzes, assignments, wikis, etc.

Here’s how instructional designer Joeckel explained it in a post:

“As an Instructional Designer, I have found this tool particularly effective when working with an instructor to create a new, fully-online class, and when making extensive revisions to existing courses of any type.

“A course schedule functions as a “design blueprint” that guides the development of web pages and wikis, assessments (discussions, quizzes, assignments, etc.), communication methods and collaboration spaces. With the PDF Course Schedule Builder, a beneficial design document and an important learner resource are developed simultaneously.”

Joeckel developed a video , “How to use the PDF course schedule builder in five steps,” in which he describes the design tool.  The tool itself can be downloaded here.  Essentially, after you download the tool, you add modules, set dates, add activities, and then publish.

If you want background information about course design and syllabi, Joeckel offered the following references:

  • Slattery, J.M.; Carlson, J.F. (2005). “Preparing an effective syllabus: current best practices.”. College Teaching 54 (4): 159–164.
  • Habanek, D.V. (2005). “An examination of the integrity of the syllabus”. College Teaching 53 (2): 62–64.
  • Parks, J.; Harris, M.B. (2002). “The purpose of a syllabus.”. College Teaching 50 (2): 55–61.
  • Holdgate, P.; Roberts, S. (2012). “Programming the progamme: pacing the curriculum in architectural education.” The Higher Education Academy. Available at:
  • Callaghan, J., Lauer, T.W., & Peacock, E. (1998). Developing a Comprehensive Curriculum For Accounting Information Systems:  A Model-Oriented, Tool-Enhanced Approach. The Review of Account Information Systems, 2, 57-65.

If you have questions about this design tool, contact George

At Columbia College Chicago where I teach, the Center For Innovation in Teaching Excellence also offers resources about course design.  It’s your turn.  What resources do you recommend for online course design?

This entry was posted in digital education, e-learning courses, e-learning resources, educational technology, online teaching and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Online Course Design Tool for Schools, NonProfits, Businesses

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