ION | Illinois Online Network

Making the Virtual Classroom a Reality

Web Design Principles for Online Educators

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The purpose of this course is to introduce educators to web design principles that can be used to create effective online courses. In the first module, students examine the process of planning a web site and create a "design document" that serves as a blueprint for designing future course sites. In the second module, students create a checklist of design guidelines that can be used to create their own course sites. Finally, in the third module, students observe good practices of web design by evaluating other educational web sites that have been created by faculty at ION-participating institutions. The faculty are on hand to answer student questions about the design of their sites. Note: It is not required to create web pages for this course.


The Web Design Principles for Online Educators course is primarily for faculty and staff who are planning to create an online course, hybrid course, or Web site; or who would like to improve an existing online course or Web site. Whether you are an experienced Web page creator or have never created a Web page in your life, you can benefit from this course because it focuses on the process and principles of Web design with education in mind. (Please note that this is NOT an HTML course, and you will not be required to create Web pages.)



Module 1 - Understanding the Basics of HTML

Module 2 Web Design Basics Planning a Web Site

Module 3 Placing and Defining Content

Module 4 Usability and Accessibility

Module 5 Putting It All Together


The goals of this course are to introduce educators to Web design principles that can be applied to their own course Web pages, to provide guidance on the process of planning the design of Web sites, and to observe good practices of Web design by evaluating other educational Web sites. The course also provides a model for educators who are or will be teaching online, and allows the educator to experience online education from the student's perspective.


After completing this course, learners will be able to:

  1. create a design plan for an educational web site defining the goals and objectives of the web site, the audience, and content elements (synthesize)
  2. determine essential elements of an educational web site (organize)
  3. describe at least 20 web design guidelines (comprehends meaning)
  4. understand usability and disability issues in educational Web design (apply)
  5. give examples that demonstrate specific web design guidelines. (apply)
  6. critique the design of educational web sites based on good web design principles and practices. (evaluate)


The course is eight weeks in length and requires an online orientation.


You may take this course without any course prerequisites.


  • Complete the online course orientation prior to the start of the course.
  • Read the instructor's lesson introductions and assigned articles from the Web.
  • Answer weekly discussion questions related to the Web articles.
  • Engage in positive and meaningful dialog with classmates concerning the course subject matter. Discussions will be conducted using the Moodle Discussions tool.
  • Write a summary of the key items covered each week and how they apply to your online course.
  • Create a Web Design Document.
  • Create a Web Design Evaluation tool.
  • Critique two Web sites.
  • Conduct Usability and Accessibility measures.


The course has a modular structure consisting of somewhat separate units. Each unit is individually assessed, but successive units build on previous information. The course pedagogy is based on collaborative learning and group participation. Content is delivered using active asynchronous and synchronous chat participation, direct email, postings of materials, Web resources, and instructor notes. Content in the form of student participation in the discussion forums and comments on the ideas and work of others will also be present. Links to outside sources are also required through which students will acquire more in depth information on some topics.

There is a schedule with specific deadlines for assignments and projects. Except for a few synchronous online meetings, you decide when to "attend" class. Lectures, assignments, questions, and discussion all occur online, at your convenience. The asynchronous online format provides flexibility as to when and where participants study and interact with the materials, their classmates, and instructor.


This is an intensive course requiring about 8-10 hours a week. The time commitment will vary depending the individual's input, needs, and personal study habits. Students are required to log on to the course a minimum of 3 times a week.

Credit Options

Continuing Education Credit (CEU Credit)
8 Continuing education units (CEU credit) are available for this course.

Graduate or Undergraduate Academic Credit
This course can also be taken for academic graduate credit through the University of Illinois at Springfield. To earn academic credit, you must first enroll as a non-degree or as a degree student through UIS. Visit the How to Enroll page for more information.


Taking a course for CEUs:
Registration for this course is open to the general public, but there is a registration fee for participants who are not employees of the University of Illinois. The fee is determined by the number of contact hours and online discussion requirements for the course. To view the fee schedule for a specific section of this course, visit the Schedule and click on the link for that section (e.g. SA1051).

Taking a course for Graduate Credit through the University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS):
Most MVCR courses [not the Advanced Online Seminars] may be taken for graduate credit through UIS. You do not pay twice if you choose this route. You pay only the tuition and fees associated with UIS enrollment. If you choose to enroll through UIS, you need to follow the instructions. You do not register through this site.

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Taking Courses for Academic Credit

Most 8-week MVCR courses can also be taken for academic credit through the University of Illinois at Springfield.

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Suggested Tracks

Instruction Centric

  • Online Learning
  • Instructional Design
  • Student Assessment
  • Encouraging Comm.
  • Elective
  • Practicum

Technology Centric

  • Online Learning
  • Technology Tools
  • Instructional Design
  • Student Assessment
  • Elective (Multimedia or Sims, Labs, Games, and VR)
  • Practicum

Support Professional

  • Online Learning
  • Instructional Design
  • Student Assessment
  • Universal Design
  • Elective (Supporting Students, Copyright, Global eLearning, Blended/Hybrid, Librarians Collaborating, Multimedia Principles)
  • Practicum

COLA - track

  • Administration Seminar
  • Quality Assurance
  • Issues and Strategies in Faculty Training
  • Supporting Students Online

Choose one of the following three for your elective:

  • Administration of Online Programs
  • Copyright
  • Blended - Hybrid Learning Design and Instruction
  • Practicum for Administrators
What They're Saying
"It's good to communicate with faculty in different disciplines and gain their insights."     

MVCR Participant

Award winning courses

The MVCR program won the Award for Excellence in ALN Faculty Develop-ment (in conjunction with other ION programs) from the Sloan-consortium in 2002. One of our instructors won the WebCT Exemplary Online Course Award for an MVCR course as well.

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