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The following are the course developer tasks during the course development process.

Courses are typically designed in 7 units and delivered in 7 weeks. The activities in each unit are outlined below.

7RD2 Course Design Overview of the process

Components of Course Unit


R1 stands for Readings (along with the unit learning objectives, and the first draft of the course syllabus). Below are the steps for this process: 

Step 1: Start developing the course syllabus using the templates you will receive. 

Step 2: List the course objectives in the course map. These can be gleaned from the course description or the program details from your school. 

Next, split the course objectives into 7 units and develop the unit objectives based on the course objective(s) assigned to the unit. Refer to Using the Backward Design, on how to split the course into 7 sections/units. Then use verbs from Bloom’s Taxonomy (note the order) in the objectives as in the example below:

  • Understand how issues for governing society develop over time
  • Clarify views on what constitutes good government
  • Organize different points of view regarding a citizen rights and responsibilities
  • Assess the impacts of different points of view
  • Analyze the background of the US government
  • Evaluate forms of government

Step 3List the assigned readings for each unit in the course map. Try locating Open Education Resources (OER), library articles, or textbooks that are available in digital format. If picking a commercial textbook, make sure that you run it by the program chair or the dean for approval first. The readings should be based on the unit learning objectives. 


The unit readings serve as the foundation for the unit. We recommend selecting scholarly articles and references from the library or Open Educational Resources (OER) instead of commercial textbooks. This makes it easy to make future tweaks to the course and it helps reduce student textbook costs. If quality OERs are not available, the course developers can adapt commercial textbooks while considering the following: 

  • Textbooks must be newer than 5 years.  
  • The textbook must be available in eBook/digital format. 

R2Restate Readings

The developer should simply review Form A – Reading Notes and include it in the syllabus, and reference it in the course map where necessary. 

The students will complete the readings by Monday 11:55pm (for courses that start on Sundays) and submit the completed Form A. This serves as a mechanism for students to start early with the course materials, and complete the readings early on in the unit, laying the foundation for the rest of the activities. 

R3Recorded Videos

Each course requires at least 15 lectures: 2 lectures per unit plus the overview of the course lecture. The lectures should focus on the learning objectives for the unit. They serve as the glue that holds all the activities together. The lectures should cover important concepts related to the unit. 

Guidelines for the unit lectures: 
  1. Develop the script for each lecture as part of the course map.
  2. The lectures should be around 10-12 minutes long. 
  3. The lectures should be recorded at a studio (if at all possible). 

R4Respond to Assigned Questions

During the course delivery, the instructor will assign a minimum of one question to each student in the course. Later in the week, they will review peer posts and comment on them. The course developer should develop 30 questions for each unit for the VoiceThread activity. 

R5Retention of Presented Concepts

Retention is a key component of the 7RD2 process and is achieved through the use of Cerego. As the course developer, you will develop 4 Cerego sets of 20-25 questions each. The Cerego questions are typically keywords, concepts or ‘stuff’ you want the students to remember even after finishing your course. 

Cerego is an adaptive learning tool that uses artificial intelligence.  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. Cramming and exam notes defeat long-term retention and must be avoided.

Cerego must not be confused with an exam, test, or quiz. While a quiz typically assesses whether the students remember the content, Cerego ensures they remember the content. Instead of students answering the questions once, they continue to work on it until the pre-defined retention level has been reached. 

The frequency of the Cerego sets

It is best to design the course with the following frequency of the learning sets. Each set should typically be set to retention level 2:  They’ll have mastery for weeks. Can be achieved in 10 days of spaced practice.

  • Cerego Set 1: Start unit 1 expect completion by middle of unit 2. 
  • Cerego Set 2: Start middle of unit 2 expect completion by end of unit 3. 
  • Cerego Set 3: Start beginning of unit 4 and expect completion by middle of unit 5. 
  • Cerego Set 4: Start middle of unit 5 and expect completion by end of unit 7. 
Additional Information

Why Use Cerego in an Online Course? 

For the best viewing experience, open the video in Panopto using the “Watch in Panopto” icon in the video controls (when using a regular PC) or use this video URL


Cerego: The Next Generation Online Learning by Angela N. Kamau and Sheila W. Kamau

Step-by-Step Guide on Using Cerego in a Course (course developers can skip part 1). 

Syllabus Statement for Cerego: 

Cerego access must be purchased for this course. The cost of Cerego access is $20 per student for each course requiring Cerego. Payment must be made using a major credit card when first accessing Cerego learning activities on eLearning.

R6Research Term Paper

7rd2 course design information literacyLearning 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 requiring the completion of all forms, in the order shown in the syllabus, to earn credit for the project.  Depending on the course level, the term paper can be 5-6 pages (freshman/sophomore) or 10-12 pages (junior/senior/graduate level).

The term paper project is based o the EASE of Information Literacy (opens in new tab). This process includes the following 4 stages, which are tightly integrated throughout the course: 

Explore: Define the topic, search terms, and discover resources by using Form E (Term Paper Proposal) in Unit 1

Analyze: Examine sources by using Form B (Library Research Plan) in Unit 2

Synthesize: Organize Information, drawing conclusions by using Form 1 (Annotated Outline) in Unit 3From C1 ARC Writing Lab Report in Unit 4Form F2 (50% Draft) in Unit 5

Evaluate: Assess final product, diagnose areas of weakness, revise as needed by using Form C2 (ARC Writing Lab Report) in Unit 6 and Form F3 (Final Term Paper Version) in Unit 7

The 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 Masland Library, and engagement with the Academic Research Center (ARC) Writing Lab. If a form is not submitted, the next form(s) in the process will not be accepted.

R7Reflect on the Unit

The Unit Wrap-up serves as a mechanism for reflecting and summarizing the unit for both the instructor and the student. The course developer should write a concise script (100-150 words) wrapping up key concepts covered in the unit. 

This script will be used by the instructor teaching the course as a baseline for creating a unit wrap-up video. The students will reflect on the instructor’s wrap-up video and the unit’s content to complete Form H. 

Course Forms/Rubrics 

Typical Forms for Each Unit 

Form A – Each UnitReading Notes
Form H – Each UnitUnit summary


Typical Forms for a Term Paper

Form E – Topic & Research QuestionUnit 1Proposal for  Page Term Paper
Form B – Library Research PlanUnit 2Student outlines the sources, research timing, risks and how they will be addressed. 
Form F1 – Annotated OutlineUnit 3Student prepares an annotated outline of the paper. 
Form C1 – ARC Writing Lab ReportUnit 4Student consults with the ARC staff on paper strengths, weaknesses and action plan. 
Form F2 – Term Paper 50% DraftUnit 5Student prepares a 50% draft of the final paper using a suggested outline. 
 Form C2 – ARC Writing Lab ReportUnit 6 Student consults with the ARC staff on paper strengths, weaknesses and action plan. 
 Form F3 – Final Term Paper 
 Use  Form D1 and D2 – for 5-6 page policy papers. 
Unit 7 Student submits the final version of the term paper following a suggested outline. 


The course is structured in a pattern, there is a repeating rhythm that will help students and the instructor plan their time and keep track of assignments.



Use the Course Map Template

Use the templates provided by the Office of Distance Education (ODE).

Unit Objectives

Start with the unit objectives and properly align them with the overall course objectives.


The readings serve as the foundation for achieving the unit learning objectives.

Invest Time

Invest sufficient time to properly plan the objectives, the readings, lectures and learning activities.

Home Studio Setup for the  7RD2 PROCESS

Audio and video quality is crucial in online courses. Here is a suggested setup for a home studio