Topic 1: Course Introduction
Instructor's Notes


The Production Process

The production process for online courses is based on two models:

  • principals of instructional design
  • Web and multimedia production.

The production of online media (Web sites and multimedia) is usually broken up into four stages:

  • Concept Definition Phase
  • Design Phase
  • Production Phase
  • Testing and Quality Assurance Phase

According to Dr. George Bracket, from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, "The development process is designed to divide problems into manageable chunks that generate maximum creativity and planning in the early stages and maximize productivity during the production phase. By spending more time planning and testing in the early stages you can avoid expensive mistakes later on."

The general rule of thumb is to spend approximately one third of the time on the concept and design phases.

1. Concept Phase

In the concept phase you define why you are doing the project and what you hope to achieve. Then you layout how you plan to achieve the course goals. The vision is articlulate so it can be understood by clients, team members, or other key players.

In the concept phase the course topic and approach are researched and a concept document is created. The concept document clearly defines the intent and scope of the project.

The concept document should include:

  • Research
    Before developing a course two types of research should be conducted: an academic literature review (what else is out there and how can we improve or expand on existing courses rather than replicate them?), and a market study (is there a demand/need for this?)

  • Course goals and objectives

  • Definition of target audience

  • Course description

  • Outline of the course content

  • A project estimate
    • a rough draft of an asset list with the resources needed (what text, graphics, or multimedia elements, programming, database or Web hosting will you need?)
    • a flow chart (how will the pages link together?)
    • a budget (how much will it cost?
    • a milestone calendar (how long will each task take?)

2. Design and Prototype

In the design phase the course content, navigational structure, assets, approach and graphic design are developed in detail. Sample graphics and layouts are established and technical requirements are specified. The following elements are developed in the design phase:

  • a detailed storyboard with a list of what content (text, graphics, multimedia, programming, etc.) will be on each page
  • a prototype
    The prototype is a first draft of the site and includes the site navigation, the look of the site and a sample of what the rest of the site will be like
  • a course management plan
  • formative evaluation (user testing) is conducted
  • programming and other technical requirements (integration with a database, course management systems, etc.) are specified and tested if necessary

3. Production Phase
The content and technical issues are developed, integrated and finalized:

  • writing is completed
  • Web pages are created and uploaded
  • graphics, multimedia elements and programming are completed
  • formative evaluation (user testing) is conducted

4. Testing and Quality Assurance Phase
The site is uploaded and checked:

  • spelling errors, grammar, and quality of content are tested
  • technical issues including speed, browser compatibility, broken links, appearance of graphics and multimedia elements and effectiveness of the programming are tested


Managing multimedia production
By James Khazar, multimedia producer for Macromedia's instructional media department.



copyright, Valerie Landau, 2001