Creating Effective Online and Blended Courses

Creating Effective Online and Blended Courses


Creating Effective Online and Blended Courses was produced by the Open Learning Initiative at Stanford University with contributions from the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning at Stanford University. These resources were partially funded by O.P.E.N., the Open Professionals Education Network which is sponsored by the Gates Foundation to support Department of Labor (DoL) Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College & Career Training (TAACCCT) grantees.

These resources, designed for a general audience of instructors at 2-and 4-year higher education institutions, will help such instructors develop online courses or incorporate online learning approaches in their on-campus classes. A separate, Stanford-focused version will be released by winter of 2016. In our initial release, six of the eight modules will be available. The remaining two (in grey) will be released as they are built.

  1. Introduction: How do I navigate these modules? What can I expect to get out of it? How are online courses different from on-campus courses?
  2. Course Organization: How can I structure my partially or fully online course?
  3. Learning Objectives: How do I formulate clear learning outcomes for my students?
  4. Assessment: How do I foster and measure student learning outcomes?
  5. Activities: What activities (such as guided discussions, reflection exercises, simulations, and games) can I use to support learning?
  6. Content Presentation: How can I most effectively use videos, HTML, and other media to present course content?
  7. Social Presence & Motivation: How do I build genuine community to keep students motivated?
  8. Iterative Design: How can I use platform data to improve my course over time?


These modules self-paced, meaning there are no deadlines, and the materials will be available indefinitely for you to work through on your own schedule. The eight modules can be completed in any order and should serve as a resource for you during the creation of your online course.


These resources are designed for instructors at 2- and 4-year institutions of higher education who have experience teaching on campus. No prior online teaching experience is necessary.


These resources were developed by the Open Learning Initiative at Stanford University with contributions by the Stanford Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning. For more information about each of these groups, please visit their homepages.


Do I need to buy a textbook?

There is no required textbook. A resource that might be helpful is How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching, by Susan A. Ambrose, Michael W. Bridges, Michele DiPietro, Marsha C. Lovett, and Marie K. Norman (Jossey-Bass, 2010).

Can I obtain a Statement of Accomplishment?

No. The modules are designed to allow participants the flexibility to skip through and view whatever is relevant for their own needs. Additionally, all problems are ungraded to promote a learning-focused experience. Given this focus, statements of accomplishment will not be provided.

Are there required assignments?

Activities and problems appear throughout each module, and you can elect to complete them. All of the problems are ungraded.

How many hours should I expect to spend on each module?

It varies because some of the modules have much more content than others. Also, you may elect to skip parts of some modules that are not relevant to you. On average, each module should take from 2 to 10 hours to complete in its entirety.

Will there be recommendations on specific platforms and tools that I can use in my course production?

No. Although we recognize the value of providing such information, the ever-changing landscape of educational technologies makes it a significant challenge to keep information current. These resources focus instead on pedagogy and design. Some of the examples provided do make some references to third-party tools, but Stanford does not endorse any such tools. We encourage you to seek advice about platform and tool options from technology experts at your local institution and by consulting online resources.

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