Design & development


So, you’re ready to start writing your course! Importantly by the time you reach this step, you will have already: 

  • Defined your course learning objectives, 
  • Decided on what assessments will be used within your course, 
  • Determined your mode/s of delivery (i.e. face-to-face, blended or online), and 
  • Had confirmation that your Short Program Application has been approved! 

Now you’re ready to get stuck into writing the content! But before jumping straight into making course materials, like video recordings or learning activities, there are several steps needed to ensure the course content you create is the course content you need! 

On this page are a set of course writing templates to guide you through writing your course. A quick reminder at this stage too, is that any online components of your Short Program will be built using UniSA’s learnonline platform – no need to find your own separate platform (unless you are offering a standalone bespoke or consultancy professional development session that has not gone through formal approval with a listing on PCMS – in this case, please contact the Teaching Innovation Unit to discuss a suitable platform for your course materials). Finally, important to keep in mind as you move through this process is when and how you might Evaluate your course.

First, the Course Design Blueprint enables you to get a birds-eye view of your short program course/s. This type of view is important from the start as it will ensure your course writing efforts are targeted and that the course in its entirety is coherent and flows. Within this document you will need to think about the order of your topics, what students will need to know (i.e. key concepts, definitions) and need to do (i.e. readings, watch a video, complete a small quiz, discussion forum) within each topic, how they’ll be assessed and finally what resources you will need to create or repurpose in order to achieve this.  

You’ll also want to think about the overall structure of your short program. So, will this be delivered in a relatively short or intensive style, or is the intention for students to spread the work out over several weeks? Also, will this be a single standalone course, or part of a larger program of courses – perhaps you have ideas for a series of courses. Whatever is chosen, be sure to keep your language consistent throughout your course materials. 

Here is a bit more detail about what each column in the Blueprint is really asking for. 

Topic/Week Name: This is where you create a descriptive and meaningful name for the Topic about to be covered – not just “Topic 1”. Give students some indication of what’s about to come. 

Overview statementThis is a sentence or two providing a brief overview of the topic. Think of this section as forming the foundation of the introductory narrative that you’ll need later on! 

Need to Know: These should be presented as dot points and should state the main concepts students will be learning about during the topic but don’t worry about using any action verbs like “discuss” or “compare”; these aren’t needed here. Keep in mind that each dot point should relate back to at least one of the course objectives, so use these overarching objectives to keep your “Need to Knows” on track! 

Need to Do: This section now needs you to think about all the different elements of your course that you expect students to actually do. So, are they watching videos, completing readings, engaging in discussion forums or completing any other kinds of activities? Dot point these out too and remember that all your Need to Do’s should be linked with one of your Need to Knows. Avoid adding unrelated activities or information.  

Assessments (if applicable): Under this heading you’ll need to consider how you will be assessing students’ learning within the topic. Planning in where and when you’ll be expecting students to engage with assessments within your course is important. The timing of these needs to be right as students will need to have seen the appropriate content first! Keep in mind the total time commitment expected for your course and balancing these tasks across the duration of your course.  

Resources needed: Often people like to jump straight to this part—creating the resources! You might have a lot of great ideas and want to get started straight away, but there’s a reason it’s not presented first. By completing the preceding sections, you will have considered what you want students to learn, how they might will go about learning it, and then how they’ll be assessed on that learning. Now you’ll have a much clearer idea of what you really need to achieve this learning and so can really focus your efforts! Plus, you can more easily identify 1) what resources might you already have and can repurpose, and 2) what you might need to create. Finally, remember to get in touch with your local academic/digital librarian for support with identifying resources or any copyright questions. 

It’s useful to think of the blueprint as the roadmap to your Short Program, helping you to plan your students’ journey through the course/s, and to keep you on track as you begin adding detail when using the Course Writing template, Learning Activity template, and Assessment Templates below.  

The Course Writing template provides a structure to follow when creating the narrative that supports the various resources you will include in your course. This narrative is important for guiding students through the content, much like you would verbally if presenting this content in a face-to-face setting; simply dropping in some videos and a short activity with no guiding narrative will leave students quite lost.  

Once you’ve written the content for each Topic or Week in the template, this is then transferred into Moodle – your learnonline course site. Using sensible and informative headings for your topics and sub-topics is great for helping students to effectively navigate around your course. There is some example text throughout the template to give you an idea of what should go where. 

When recording videos for your course (e.g. welcome video), you can use Panopto and embed these into your course Moodle page. More information about Panopto and how to use it can be found here.

As you make your way through the Course Writing template, you’ll eventually come across a space for a Learning Activity. Learning Activities are different to the Assessments. Learning Activities should help students apply the material or content rather than being aassessment of their learning. 

When creating learning activities in an online environment, it is really important to clearly communicate the whatwhy and how to students – what are they supposed to do, why are they doing it/value of it, and how should they go about it. Taking the time to write a clear narrative and set of instructions helps you in several ways:   

  • It clarifies the need for and purpose of each Learning Activity for yourself, and helps you place it appropriately within the flow of course content; and   
  • If students are clear on what they need to do and how to do it, then there should be fewer follow-up questions/emails from them and their learning experience should be more successful.   

Be sure to keep in mind the total time commitment you’ve selected for students in your course when choosing and creating your activities as well as ensuring a mix of activities and learning experiences are offered. Once you’ve decided on activities, use the Learning Activity template to create the narrative and instructions for each one. Then copy/paste that text into your Course Writing template. 

Below is a selection of activities available within Moodle that you might incorporate into the delivery of your course content. The table contains descriptions of when and how these activities might be used, some examples of instructions to students for these activities, as well as links to resources giving step-by-step instructions for adding the tool to your course homepage (staff login required). 

Online Learning Activities and Assessments in Moodle 

Moodle Tool  

Use it when you... 

Example/s of Learning Activities using this tool 

Steps to set it up in Moodle  


Want students to interact with peers, have an online discussion, collaborate and explore topics. 

Exemplar FORUM 

Adding a forum 


Assess learning, both formative and summative. Can be multiple choice and/or short answer.  

Exemplar QUIZ 

Adding a quiz


Want to gather data from students on any topic, or as a way to more easily check in and see if the group is on track.  

Exemplar FEEDBACK 

Adding feddback


Want students to gather resources and information to share with the rest of the class.  

Exemplar GLOSSARY 

Adding a glossary

Virtual Classroom (Zoom) 

Create an online meeting space where students and instructors can meet and interact. 


Adding a virtual classroom


Interactive visual tool for sharing images and comments (similar to a forum but more visual) 

Exemplar PADLET 1 & PADLET 2 

Adding a padlet page


Want students to collect, share and search created artefacts. Can be tricky to set up and maintain – avoid if you’re new to Moodle.  

Exemplar DATABASE 

Adding a database


Allow students to individually or collaboratively create a page. Can be tricky to set up – avoid if you’re new to Moodle. 

Exemplar WIKI 

Adding a Wiki

Interactive Content (H5P)  

Interactive online learning tool allows for a range of learning activities to be created and shared, but can be tricky to set up, ask for assistance if you are new to this content 

Exemplar H5P 

Best to contact the TIU if you’re new to this tool.  

Adding interactive content


If you are still unsure about what assessments you might use, or how you might be able to move from a face-to-face delivery to online, contact the Teaching Innovation Unit.

The below table contains links to some additional Moodle tools you may need; however, these are not Learning Activities or Assessment tools on their own. Rather they are a resource for providing students with details or information.  

Moodle Tool 

When to use it... 

How to set it up in Moodle 


Want to create an online submission link when students will be submitting a file for their assessment piece. 

Adding an Assignment 


Upload a file for students to access. Not really an assessment or activity itself, rather information transfer. 

Adding a file  


Upload a group of files you want students to access 

Adding a folder  


Create a separate page for presenting content. This is still presented within your course homepage. 

Adding a page  


A way of organising and presenting content that is different to a ‘long scroll’ on the course homepage.  

Adding a book  


Want students to vote, make a decision about something, book a resource or select a topic. 

Adding a choice 


During the approval stage, you had to decide and briefly outline what assessment/s you would be including in your short program. Now it’s time to sort out the details and create the instructions for your students.  

For this next step we have another template, the Assessment template. Similarly, this template also has several headings for you to follow when creating the narrative surrounding your assessment, and some example text so you can get a feel for what is needed 

Importantly, it is not enough to simply say “write an essay addressing one of the following questions”. When working through this template, consider how you would introduce this assessment in a face-to-face setting. Again, it is really important to clearly communicate the whatwhy and how to students – what are they supposed to do, why are they doing it/value of it, and how should they go about it. 

Any additional resources they should access or use within the assessment should be made explicit here too. 

Finally, you may find as you begin writing your course that the assessment/s you had approved no longer fit the course in the same way and might need some changes. There are existing amendment processes that are to be followed if changes to approved assessments are required.  

While finalising your course materials you'll need to begin marketing your course, typically a few months before your intended delivery date. 

You may wish to utilise your existing professional networks, promote through social networking platforms or other paid advertising.  

Whatever you choose, you’ll need to consider how you will market your course, the costs associated with these methods, and what is most appropriate for reaching your intended audience.