Online Course Development Grants - AppOn 2016

AppOn Grant Proposal submission deadline: Friday, November 20, 2015

Students are increasingly interested in taking classes when and where they can find them, especially during the summer months and are, more than ever before, open to a variety of designs and delivery methods. In 2012, estimates were that from a quarter to one-third of all enrollments at postsecondary, degree granting institutions in the US were in online courses . These changes have important implications for Appalachian, which in many respects has been an exemplar of the "classic" presence-based learning for traditional college-age students on (mostly) one physical campus. At present, only a small number of courses offered by our campus are listed by their departments as online courses. Historically, Appalachian's distance learning programs have involved faculty travel for presence learning rather than synchronous or asynchronous online learning. This has been changing in recent years, and now more than half of our distance education enrollment is in online courses.

Our current support for development of online summer courses is based on the belief that opportunities exist to address the needs of Appalachian students who currently either go "off the mountain" for high-demand courses in which they have difficulty enrolling or who avoid the expense and inconvenience of an on-campus summer course by enrolling in other institutions that offer more numerous or convenient summer options. By offering high-quality, well designed, and well-delivered online courses, Appalachian can address both of those motivations and can add to the educational toolbox we use for educating our students. It is in this context that faculty can apply for stipend grants to develop courses that will first be offered online in summer 2016 (without intent to limit offerings of the courses to the summer terms). Courses that are funded for development under this project will be available to both campus-based and extension students.

The course development and quality assurance processes described below reflect the standards adopted in 2015 by the Office of Academic Affairs for formally supported online course development at Appalachian. This policy covers the development of entire online programs, whether on-campus or through distance education, and the development of individual courses for offering on-campus or through distance education. This process will guide our faculty and units as they consider new opportunities in online education. Courses and programs of all types will, of course, still be subject to regular curriculum approval and accreditation requirements that have been established by Appalachian, the UNC General Administration, SACS, and the U.S. Department of Education.

Questions regarding AppOn 2016 may be directed to Tom Van Gilder ( or Sue Edwards (

For additional information or to submit a proposal:

The online course development process

Faculty will have the opportunity to apply for support to develop fully online, undergraduate courses, that will be first offered and delivered in summer 2016. Proposals can be submitted using proposal form above. Before submission of the proposal to Academic Affairs, the applicant will have to obtain signatures of the department chairperson and college dean.

These criteria will be considered by Academic Affairs in selecting the proposals for course developments that will be funded:

  • Centrality to curriculum and projected impact of online course offerings
  • Demonstrated skill level in relevant technologies
  • Familiarity with and/or willingness to employ pedagogies well adapted to online learning
  • Experience in and/or willingness to engage in collaborative development of courses
  • Willingness to participate actively in the development process
  • High level of faculty motivation

Participating faculty and the Center for Academic Excellence (CAE) will collaborate during all aspects of course development. Other key persons (for example, college/school/department leaders and leaders in General Education) will be involved as needed to promote success. Each faculty member or group of faculty members will work with a CAE colleague to set deadlines and create two deliverables: a detailed course guide and a ready-to-deliver, online course in AsULearn. The participating faculty should engage in long-term professional development that can include workshops, online seminars and discussions, as well as one-on-one consultations.

Course development undertaken as part of this program is intended to promote designing basic templates for offerings of a specific course, which could serve as a foundation subsequent online versions of that course. The template can and often will be developed by teams of faculty. Presumably, once a template for a particular course has been created, other faculty members can then offer sections based on that template, with the faculty in the units deciding on the degree to which an individual faculty members can "customize" the course as it is offered to students.

View a few examples of some quality online offerings (log into AsULearn when prompted).

Writing an online course guide is a critical component in the process. A course guide includes a detailed syllabus and a weekly or daily schedule that serves as a template for developing the online course. Creating a course guide helps the professor define and organize instructional goals and course objectives, without becoming bogged down with the details of how to set up a group forum or being distracted by the features of a new tool. It shifts the focus from how to use to the course management system to answering these questions: How I am going to teach this course? What are the learning objectives and instructional outcomes?

Each course will go through a review based on the Quality Matters (QM) Standards Rubric. The course will be reviewed by a team that includes an instructional designer, an instructional technology consultant and a reviewer designated by the sponsoring department (some reviews may require additional faculty reviewers--for example, for interdisciplinary courses). Reviewers will give the faculty member detailed feedback on eight critical online course components and work with them to address the feedback. Learn more about QM.

Our goal is simple yet obtainable: to encourage development of a significant number of quality online courses, for summer and academic-year delivery, that enhance students' abilities to meet graduation requirements within reasonable timelines. While it is understood that the goal of enhancing summer offerings is a major driver behind this program, these courses would be suitable for offering during the regular academic year if student demand and learning objectives warrant it.

Academic Affairs Programmatic Support

The Office of Academic Affairs will provide stipends to selected faculty members for developing an online course. Groups of faculty must determine how they will divide the stipend, subject to approval by chairs, deans, and the Vice Provost for Resource Management. Units may provide additional support to faculty members at their discretion, subject to approval by the Vice Provost for Resource Management.

The Vice Provost for Resource Management will oversee contracting and payments. Payment of stipends and continuation with the program will be contingent upon the timely completion of steps in the development process, such as the completion of an approved course guide. Deliverables and amounts will be specified in an online course development agreement (PDF of the standard language is available above).

Ongoing Assessment to Enhance Quality

The faculty member should establish an assessment plan and processes for online student evaluations and peer evaluations. It will be important to assure that faculty members teaching online have formative and evaluative material comparable to those of departmental peers not teaching online.

Additional resources on online learning

Questions regarding supported online course development may be directed to Dr. Sue Edwards, Vice Provost for Faculty Development, at or extension 2643.

Published: Nov 1, 2015 12:00am