Large Course Redesign Best Practices

Course Redesign (CR) involves the redesigning of whole courses to achieve better learning outcomes and accommodate enrollment growth. CR is much more extensive than simply putting face-to-face courses online; its goal is to rethink “the way we deliver instruction in light of the possibilities that new technology offers” (Twigg, 2005). Benefits of CR (Fiedor, 2008) include:

  • Reducing high drop/fail/withdrawal (DFW) rates
  • Increasing consistency of the learning experience across different sections of the course
  • Influencing students’ choices in their intended discipline
  • Keeping students on a timely path toward graduation

How to Get Started

Step 1: Consider whether your course is a good fit for CR. NC State would consider the courses that are among the top 5% in enrollment in a college to be “large,” as well as critical path courses that serve as foundational studies. Courses get redesigned based on multiple factors, including grade distribution analysis, DFW rates and course repeats, the need to cope with increasing enrollments, and potential for improving educational efficiency and cost savings. Tips for planning are below:

Step 2: Assemble your team, which will likely consist of faculty, instructional designers, assessment specialists, instructional technologists, administrators, multimedia specialists, IT specialists, and librarians.

Step 3: Meet with your team and work through the various tasks involved in CR, such as determining which model (NCAT, 2005) would be a good fit for your course:

  • The Supplemental Model retains the basic structure of the traditional course by supplementing lectures and textbooks with technology-based, out-of-class activities, or changing what goes on in the class by creating an active learning environment within a large lecture hall setting.
  • The Replacement Model reduces the number of in-class meetings and replaces some in-class time with out-of-class time; online, interactive learning activities; or makes significant changes in remaining in-class meetings.
  • The Emporium Model replaces lectures with a learning resource center model featuring interactive software and on-demand customized assistance.
  • The Fully Online Model eliminates all in-class meetings and moves all learning experiences online, using web-based, multimedia resources, commercial software, automatically evaluated assessments and alternative staffing models.
  • The Buffet Model customizes the learning environment for each student based on background, learning preference and goals and offers individualized paths to reach the same learning outcomes.
  • The Linked Workshop Model provides remedial instruction by linking workshops that offer just-in-time supplemental academic support to core college-level courses.
  • The Course Flipping Model reverses the traditional notion of what happens inside and outside the classroom. Instructors capitalize on current technologies (e.g., video recording) for content delivery. Every hour of lecture in the classroom can be condensed to a six-minute, eight-minute, or 10-minute video (as examples) that can be published online and shared with students. Face-to-face classroom meetings are redesigned to focus on challenging and engaging collaborative learning. This technique for course redesign creates efficiency, accountability and meets the needs of diverse learners.

Step 4: Implement your changes and teach the new course!

Step 5: Assess, revise and implement new changes next semester.

Best Practices

  • Make course materials available to students 24/7, as this is one of the key benefits of CR (Twigg, 2005).
  • Create assessments that include repetition and instant feedback (Twigg, 2005).
  • Don’t underestimate the value of online forums, as these learning environments often evoke more student interaction than traditional classrooms (Twigg, 2005).
  • Remember, redesigned courses are not self-paced; students still need to master learning objectives based on pre-selected learning milestones (Twigg, 2005).
  • Consider revising multiple-choice questions based on higher-order-thinking techniques.
  • Check for understanding by integrating formative assessment questions into your course videos using Panopto or PlayPosit.


There are various measures of success for CR, including improved student learning outcomes, increased enrollment and maintaining or reducing costs. The examples below illustrate various ways to successfully redesign a course: