Distance Education

Creating your course

This section covers a few of the things you’ll want to consider as you’re creating your course. If you haven’t already, please review “Distance Education Best Practices” which covers recommended pedagogical standards.  Contact OpenLab team with questions!


Do you want to create a new course or clone an existing course?

  • A new course is created from scratch.
  • Cloning creates a copy of an existing course, bringing all documents and most settings to a new and uniquely named profile and site. Cloning a course is particularly useful for setting up multiple sections of the same course in a new semester or for consistency across course sections or disciplines.
  • Shared cloning allows faculty to reuse, remix, and build on material in courses created by colleagues.
  • Check with your Department or course coordinator to see if there are courses in your discipline available for cloning.

Do you want to use the Course Profile and/or Course Site for distributing course materials and facilitating discussions?

  • Every course has a Course Profile and the option for an associated Course Site.
  • The Course Profile is like a portal for the course, displaying the option to join or request membership, the course description, list of members, and access to Discussion, Docs, Files, a link to the optional Course Site, and access to course settings for instructors.
  • The Course Site, built and administered with the open source blogging platform WordPress, provides an additional robust online space for conversation, collaboration, and sharing of course materials using pages, posts, comments and other plugins.

Do you want your Course to be open or private?

  • The OpenLab offers a range of different privacy settings that can be configured in multiple ways, depending on your needs.
  • The Profile and Site can both have different privacy settings to accommodate a range of different uses.
  • If your Course is open, students can join themselves via the profile; if it’s private they will need to request membership, which you will need to accept.
  • Privacy can also be set at a fine-grained level on the site, so that individual posts and pages can be made private or password protected, even if the site is open.

Creating/Cloning a Course

Creating a course is easy! Navigate to My OpenLab > Courses and click on the + Create/Clone a Course link. Follow the step-by-step process.

  • For help creating a new OpenLab Course, follow the Help documentation for Creating a Course.
  • For help making your course cloneable or to clone an existing course that your Department or Course coordinator has provided, follow the Help documentation for Shared Cloning.
  • To clone a previous course, follow the Help documentation for Cloning a Course.
  • For help organizing your Course Site, review the Help documentation for Organizing your Course Site.

For more information: