What Our Instructional Designers Do

ATD Instructional Designers are attached to a project from start to finish, serving as pedagogical and technical experts in the design or redesign of a course. Designers apply their knowledge of learning theory, learning technologies, usability, and accessibility to the creation of every course, ensuring that the instructor’s content is supported with quality assignments, resources, and media so that students can achieve course learning outcomes.

Course Design Process

with ATD



Road sign that says "Mile 0"


  • Discuss project scope and timeline with content expert and program leadership.
  • Submit a development request.
    • Undergraduate courses: 2 Dev cycles
    • Graduate courses: 1 Dev cycle
  • An instructional designer will reach out to schedule a kick-off meeting.


  • Kick-off & Syllabus Creation
  • Review pedagogical design
    • Coordinate textbooks, OERs, library reserve and other course resources
    • Develop assignments with instructions, guidelines, and rubrics
  • Review Technological design
    • Canvas site is built for course
    • Develop custom media content with media expert and designer to place into the course. (Optional)
    • Implement third-party integrations into Canvas. (Optional)
Road sign that says "Mile 1"
Road sign that says "Mile 2"


  • Academic technologist run quality assurance and accessability review
  • Training
    • Basic maintenance of Canvas site
    • Onboarding for new online or CCAPS instructors
  • Launch
    • Canvas site complete about 3 weeks before semester begins
    • Course opens to students 1 week before the semester begins

Developers Available for Support


As you are teaching your course and encounter technical or content problems in Canvas or with the learning media tools we are always here to help. You can reach out to us by filling out our CCAPS-ATD Service Request form. Developer staff will assist with:

  • your questions
  • immediate troubleshooting needs
  • scheduling a consultation larger concerns

The site, will go through course reviews performed periodically by our Instructional Designers to see if there is anything that needs to be addressed in a future redesign. If the instructor wants to make big changes, we encourage reaching out to us through the CCAPS-ATD Service Request form.


Instructors and Program Leadership discuss your project scope and timeline. An ATD Instructional Designer may be consulted. For Graduate Education courses, a syllabus may be developed in partnership with GE Leadership prior to a service request.

  1. Program director submits a Service Request to ATD for new development work. New course development for:
    • Undergraduate education courses generally extends over two development cycles (semesters).
    • Graduate education courses generally take one development cycle to develop.
  2. An Instructional Designer reaches out to the Instructor/Content Expert at the beginning of the development cycle unless alternate timing was previously requested. They will send an invitation to a Kickoff Meeting is emailed to the Instructor, Program Director, and Media Expert.
  3. Before the Kickoff Meeting, the instructor explores the CCAPS-ATD Website to learn more about our process and to prepare for design work.


Kickoff and Syllabus Creation

For undergraduate courses, a kickoff is the first meeting where we discuss the scope of the course, map its desired outcomes, and assess the timeline for work. Come prepared to discuss "big ideas" Graduate course kickoffs generally come with an approved syllabus from which we will work, but there may still be some adjustments to the overarching ideas/themes that comprise the course.

Syllabus Approval Process (undergraduate courses only): New undergraduate courses will need to submit their syllabi for approval through the Academic Council. A designer will work with the instructor and program director to shepherd this document through the development process.

Pedagogical Design: Resources and Assignments

Designers help coordinate course materials: textbooks, library reserves, and online educational resources (OERs) for each course. This includes maintaining the Library Resource Page and ensuring library reserve and textbook requests are submitted by library/bookstore deadlines.

Instructors and Designers write assignment guidelines, which provide clear instructions, identify any needed resources, and criteria for success. Supporting materials for any technology used to complete the assignment are linked.

Instructors and Designers work together to create rubrics for the assessment of major course activities. These rubrics may also be tied to program-level outcomes for ongoing accreditation initiatives.

Technological Design: Canvas, Media, and Third-Party Tools

Designers build the Canvas site for online or blended courses using the CCAPS usability-tested template that is suitable for both online and mobile use, ensuring that each course adheres to usability and; accessibility guidelines.

Designers work with the ATD Media Team to ensure any instructor-created video, audio, or multimedia assignments are correctly placed within the course.

Designers ensure that students receive documentation (how to use) for third-party tools used in the course. See supported third-party tools in Media Services.


Pilot Testing

Developers run a quality assurance and accessibility tests after development is complete fixing or recommending fixes to the instructional designers.


Throughout the development process, the instructor learns the basics of maintaining their Canvas course site. New-to-CCAPS and New-to-Online instructors are asked to complete a short 2-3 hours asynchronous onboarding course hosted by ATD Instructional Designers.

Faculty are added to their department's mailing list once they’re actively teaching and will recieve emails from the ATD Highlights Newsletter which will have just-in-time information about teaching online before and during the semester.


The deadline for the Canvas site design/redesign to be completed is approximately three weeks prior to the start of the semester. Courses open one week before the first day of classes to provide students the opportunity to acclimate to the online environment.

Ongoing Support

You will not meet with your designer again until your course is in need of a redesign. However, you can still receive support from our developers or request a consultation with an Instructional Designer.

Pre-Course Launch

Developers will review your site to ensure that:


Developers will support you by resolving any issues that you are having with your course. To get their help, submit a ticket using the CCAPS-ATD Help & Service Request Form

Learn more about who our developers are on our Staff Page

Course Updates

Courses that have been designed by us will be updated by us if it is being taught in future semesters of courses.