Course Design Map - A course planning tool

Course Design Maps are used in the design and development of online courses with Boise State’s eCampus Center. The information below is meant to support instructors who would like to use the Course Design Map to plan online course content.


The purpose of a course design map is to help you plan the alignment and scaffolding of activities and assessments. A completed course design map provides an overview of the specific content, activities, and assessments planned for each module of your course. Creating a course design map helps to:

  • Formulate a course development plan

  • Make sure instructional materials, activities, and assessments align with and contribute to the achievement of the module objectives

  • Plan placement of activities within a course for time management

  • Ensure a balanced workload

  • Verify that all elements are included during course development

How to Develop a Course Design Map

It is recommended to use a table or spreadsheet to map out a course, but you may prefer to explore other formats with your courses. The order in which you identify the different components of your course may vary. Please consider these steps as a suggestion for approaching your course design map.

  1. Create a table with multiple rows and columns. Include these column headings:

    • Module/Week Number

    • Topic/Title/Content 

    • Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs)

    • Module Learning Objectives (MLOs)

    • Learning Materials

    • Any weekly activities (e.g., learning materials, discussions, assignments, reflections, module self-evaluation, etc.)

    • Any major assignments that span multiple weeks (e.g., final project, group presentation, etc.)

    • Exams

  2. In the first column labeled Module or Week, list the course Module number.

  3. In the second column, identify the topic or content focus for each of the weeks. You may want to refer to your Course Diagram and Sequence of Topics or your Weekly Course Pattern as you map out the content and continue through the following steps.

  4. Begin to enter information in each of the columns, sorting content and assignments among the weeks. 

    • Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs) will identify which of the established Course outcomes will be addressed during each week. There may be more than 1 outcome addressed each week and you may revisit outcomes throughout the course.

    • Module Learning Objectives (MLOs) address the specific outcomes of the module. They will define what students will learn as a result of the educational experience they have in your course. If you haven’t already, you can read more about Writing Effective Learning Objectives.

    • Learning Materials are the readings, videos, lectures, and other informational content you plan to share with students in each module.

    • For weekly activities, like discussion forums and reflections, use this space to draft a discussion prompt or a key takeaway you are planning for the activity.

    • For assignments that span multiple weeks, use the design map to plan where these assignments will be introduced, where time will be provided to work on them, and where submissions will take place during the course.

  5. Review and Edit. With all the pieces identified and mapped out, review the content with the following questions in mind. Revise and rework the content until you are satisfied with the results.

    • Do the activities and assessments align with the learning materials? 

    • Do the instructional materials contribute to the achievement of the stated module objectives?

    • Does the placement of assignments and submissions allow for adequate time management for students?

    • Is the workload balanced to allow students to complete their work effectively?

    • Are all elements of the course reflected in the map? 

    • Are all CLOs addressed and assessed?


The table below illustrates just one way to convey this information. Adapt a table as needed for your planning needs.





Instruction Materials

Discussion Forum


Work on Final Project





Instruction Materials

Discussion Forum


Work on Final Project


Overview and History

1, 2

Identify terms...

Article by Smith et al

Introductions and opinions on article.

Introduce Project


Innovative Business

1, 2

Explain ...

Ch 1-3

Use Discussion prompt from Chap 2

Background on business you respect

Pick topics



1, 2, 3

Analyze ...

Ch 4-5 and article

Drafts of project ideas with peer feedback

Build on Wk 2, identify and research 1 competitor of the Wk 2 business profiled

Reminder: Begin proposal, due next week. Draft will become part of final submission after faculty feedback & then edits.


Proposals and Competitors

2, 4

Create ...

Ch 6-7

Discussion prompt from Chap 7

Submit draft business proposal


Project Planning

2, 3


Ch 8

Post drafts, peer feedback

Article summary

Draft Project plan due to Disc Board for peer feedback. Final revised project plan to be included in Final Submission.


Managing Teams

3, 4


Ch 11

Discussion about managing upward

Analysis of case study from Chap 11

Reminder: final projects due next week.


Showcase Week

1, 2, 3, 4


Ch 9

Debrief of project plan results.

Written presentation due early in week. Presentations due mid-week.
Student peer feedback/support by the last day of week.


Need more help? Try eCampus Center Faculty Development.
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