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CIS Online Course Development and Revision Cohorts

Online course development and revision cohorts refer to a small group of faculty working simultaneously and are under contract to develop and/or revise online courses. The cohort process facilitates the alignment of resources with the placement of the faculty subject-matter expert at the center of the process, resulting in a scenario where “faculty can concentrate on course content and the design of learning activities and assessment” (Luck, 2001, p. 1). Review and peer input come naturally as part of the cohort structure's ongoing sharing, demonstration, and discourse.

Cohort meetings

Within a cohort, individuals work on their course in an open, collaborative fashion, meeting online five times with an assigned instructional designer and various resource support personnel. Each meeting is an opportunity to introduce services offered by the Office of Curriculum and Instructional Support (CIS) that are designed to support individuals at any stage of the development and revision process while also focusing on individual progress within the cohort model. In this way and many others, the process acknowledges that “online course development is a complex endeavor” and “production requires a highly organized, concerted effort from many players” (Caplan, 2004, p. 186). 

Frequency of cohorts

Cohorts begin three times each calendar year: January, May, and September, and last 12 weeks.  

Joining a cohort

Planning for each triannual cohort begins months prior; many steps must occur before courses or new programs are ready for development. Until a course has been approved for online development or revision and a faculty member is contracted to undertake the endeavor, it will not be included in a cohort. Please get in touch with CIS to learn more about cohorts. 

Resources designed for all stages of the development process

One of the most unique and powerful advantages of participating in an online course development or revision cohort is the strategically timed access to resources and supplemental support, including helpful tips, instructor guides, quality assurance, and peer reviews (CMICH login required). As mentioned earlier, specialized resource personnel will attend specific cohort meetings to promote various support opportunities tailored to the needs of the development process.  

Support from CoursePro (CMICH login required) services ensures that no time is consumed on the tedium of setup work in the LMS (Blackboard), including:

  • Importing test banks and other publisher resources into the course
  • Configuring assessments and assignments
  • Folder structure setup and course navigation
  • Discussion board forum build-out
  • Adding graphical elements to the course

DesignPro (CMICH login required) examines aesthetics, design, and accessibility elements, such as:

  • Blackboard shell banners
  • CMU branding of course materials
  • Print and web graphics 
  • PowerPoint templates
  • Syllabus design for ADA compliance

The CIS Learning Media Production (MediaPro) team assists faculty in creating, developing, and using video, or other media, as an effective tool for content delivery, including:

  • Media software (Chipcast/Panopto) training 
  • Media recording review and feedback
  • End-to-end creative production services (scripting, shooting, editing, publishing)
  • Guided access to any of the 5 Instructional Studios in Park Library

Subject Librarians guide and facilitate access to library services and materials, including:

  • Library-owned items that may be used for courses
  • Research assistance available to students (and instructors)
  • Course Reserves
  • Interlibrary Loan
  • Open Access items and Open Educational Resources that may be used for courses

Benefits of participating in an online course development (or revision) cohort 

CIS’ online course development (or revision) cohort process was strategically designed to support faculty in developing and maintaining online courses to be offered at CMU. CIS is uniquely suited to partner with instructors through each step of the cohort process toward creating and offering the highest-quality online instructional experience possible. 


Caplan, D. (2004). The development of online courses. In T. Anderson & F. Elloumi (Eds.), Theory and practice of online learning. Athabasca, AB, Canada: Athabasca University.

Luck, A. (2001, Jan/Feb). Developing courses for online delivery: One strategy. Technology Source.