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What is the 7RD2 Process?

7RD2 Course Design

The 7RD2 process outlines the pedagogical method and logistics for creating high quality re-usable online courses with balanced course developer and instructor input. It covers planning the course, designing the activities, and delivering instruction. It also integrates information literacy at the core of the course and incorporates cutting-edge learning technologies. The end-product is a high quality 7-unit course, where each unit includes 7 key learning activities for the development phase, and 7 tasks during the delivery phase. 

Readings should, whenever practicable, make use of OER (open education resources) or other no cost material such as government documents, institution white papers, corporate reports, or think-tank reports. The topics and number of pages should be focused to make best use of the time students expend in preparing for the weekly topics.

7RD2 makes use of forms to provide frameworks for capturing the essence of each assignment. Student feedback regarding the use of forms since 2014 has been strongly favorable. Forms clarify the amount of work needed and help improve preparation and retention, making classroom or online discussions more productive and useful for students in the long term.

Except for the first week where there is also an intro video, there are 2 to 3 pre-recorded instructor videos each unit as well as other video resources as appropriate for the specific course design. They are limited in length to make best use of students’ time and highlight important concepts or provide additional context to the readings.

Technology, in addition to the framework provided by the learning management system, makes use of Cerego for concept retention and VoiceThread for asynchronous presentations and discussions. Cerego must not be confused with an exam, test, or quiz. Instead, it is an artificial intelligence assisted information retention improvement tool. It can run on browser or a smartphone and can be set to achieve different levels of retention from weeks to months to years. Since the artificial intelligence backbone works with each student to optimize retention, it is essential that students engage with Cerego consistently from the day a set is launched to the target completion day.

Each week, each student is assigned a question using VoiceThread. Students must post answers and the use of video (vs. typing or just audio) is strongly preferred. The video function is like being in class, everyone can see and hear the instructor and students. Distance courses are designed for 15 students, so there are 30+ questions provided for each unit the instructor may choose from. Naturally, instructors may generate their own questions. Based on the specific course design student comments on each other’s video answers may either be encouraged or required. Student involvement in the asynchronous discussion greatly enhances engagement in the course and concept retention.

The instructor provides a video wrap up for the unit using VoiceThread, including commenting on student answers and comments. The instructor should embed a final assignment, something students need to think about, that they will then write about using the unit wrap up form. This provides a way for students to capture learning outcomes to improve retention and long-term value.

As with the forms that begin and end each unit, writing assignments use forms to make the best use of time and clearly define what success looks like. There are forms for preparing assignments, use of the school’s library and writing lab. Three-level grading rubrics are used for activities throughout the course to make sure students understand expectations for each activity. Grading rubrics are embedding in all course forms.

Course Components/Development

Courses are typically designed into 7 units. Each unit includes 7 learning activities providing a rhythm throughout the course. 

The unit learning activities are: 

Course Delivery Tasks

The process includes 7 specific tasks for the course facilitator during the delivery of the course. 

Additional Key Components


Forms serve as rubrics for each type of activity and are crucial to the 7RD2 process. They are concise and provide guidance for the completion of each type of learning activity.

Additive Grading

The 7RD2 process uses additive grading towards a cumulative of 100 points for all the course activities. The activities are graded on particular criteria based on the forms presented above. The instructor informs their students that they all start with 0 points, but can earn the points necessary to achieve an A by completing each assignment.

Information Literacy

Learning is also a reflective and analytical process; students will prepare a term paper using learned information and concepts based on a specified, researchable topic. The paper is a scaffolded project (infused in each unit) requires the completion of all forms, in the order shown in the syllabus, to earn credit for the project.

Course Paperwork

Course Agreement/Contract

The course development starts with the dean/program chair and ends with the dean/program chair during the review process. The development is overseen by the instructional design team in the Office of Distance Education. 

  1. The dean starts the paperwork by completing an eSign form requesting the course development where terms and conditions are specified. The DE Director receives a copy of the request and takes note to ensure paperwork is not stalled. 
  2. The course developer selects three deadlines for the purpose of submitting the course material in time to offer the course. The third deadline should not be less than 30 days. 
  3. The Provost approves or denies the course development. Typically, the deans submit a list of tentative courses prior to the budget development. In most cases, all courses are approved at this stage. 
  4. HR acknowledges the agreement and takes note so that the course developer can be remunerated upon completion of the work. 
  5. The DE Director acknowledges the course request. The Director then officially starts the development process with the course developer(s). Next steps, are sent to the developer. 

The signed agreement serves as the contract. The course developer is paid after the course development is complete and the course is reviewed and approved by the DE team and dean. 

Course Development step-by-step

The 7Rs of Course Development

The 7R Development Process includes 7 key learning activities for each course unit.

The 7Rs of Course Delivery

The 7R Delivery Process includes 7 key tasks for the instructor facilitating instruction.

Information Literacy

Information Literacy is infused throughout the course in the research project.

So what’s next?

Connecting the Learning Dots.