Loyola University Maryland

The Office of Digital Teaching & Learning

Approach & Methodology

Breaking down the course

The Office of Digital Teaching & Learning has developed a new model for course development, based on the latest research and foundational educational philosophies of teaching and learning. Our goal is to partner and collaborate with faculty to develop the best possible course. This collaboration creates a unique, hands-on experience for the faculty, which allows for greater professional development for the faculty member, as they learn and implement the digital pedagogy best practices for their course.

Our framework is driven by the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm:

  • Context: the learning environment in which we create. In Loyola’s case, that would be Moodle and the template in which the content is housed.
  • Content: this is the knowledge that students gain. We are notcontent-writers; we rely on our faculty’s expertise in the field, and they rely on us to figure out how to structure and organize their content. 
  • Connections: Helping students connect to their challenges. We help you createassignmentsand challenges to help guide the students’ learning in the right direction. We think critically about every assignment, resource, and challenge, to ensure that they enable students to achieve the learning objectives of the course.

Our job is to ensure that a course is successfully creating a convincing learning experience by creating a cohesive context, thoughtfully organizing and explaining content, and coming up with coherent and effective connections.

The Definitions

Fully online courses allow students to take courses from anywhere in the world, without the need to come to campus. Blended courses combine the synchronous and asynchronous online environments. Hybrid courses take advantage of both the on-campus and online learning environment. The considerations for what the modality of the course will be will vary, depending on school, audience, and program. Each course and program need to be considered critically before it is decided how it will be delivered. The chart below clearly provides the definition for hybrid, blended, and online. This is specific to Loyola University Maryland.




Synchronous Meetings?

Content Delivery


50% in-person, 50% online

Exactly one synchronous meeting per week, in-person, held in a designated classroom

During specific in-person meetings and via the LMS


100% online

No more than 1 required/optional synchronous session, of no more than 2 hours, in no more than 25% of modules (e.g., an 8-week course may include up to two 2-hour synchronous session

Via the LMS (synchronous sessions are planned and scheduled within the LMS and associated deliverables submitted through LMS


100% asynchronous, online

No required or optional synchronous sessions, except for on-request virtual office hours to meet individual student needs

Entirely via the learning management system (LMS)


The Elements

  • Modules, Weeks, Topics:
    Each course will have the same number of
    modulesas there areweeks in that course. Each module contains exactly one calendar week. Course topics are distributed throughout the respective number of modules.
    For example:A course that runs for 8 weeks will contain 8 modules. The course topics will be distributed within those 8 modules.

  • Course TemplateThe course template includes placeholder headings and other placeholder elements to make the creation of the course in Moodle more efficient.  The major elements included in the template are: Introduction, Benefits (aka: Objectives, Outcomes), Challenges (aka: Assignments), Resources (aka: course readings and videos). If you'd like to see the a course put into our template, please check out this course we developed for Summer 2019. Feel free to enroll yourself (it will enroll you as a student) and poke around.

How do we assess quality and the impact of the courses we develop?

Each course the ODTL develops goes through a thorough review process before it goes live to the students. This review process takes elements from both QualityMatters and OLC (Online Learning Consortium), but has been adapted specifically for Loyola University Maryland. Quality in online education is measured by a variety of standards, including but not limited to,

  • Active Learning: Active learning involves actions of doing and connecting course materials and content (Smart and Csapo, 2007). Developing an active learning environment requires stimulating learning whether it is asynchronously or synchronously. Strategies to achieve active learning may include, but are not limited to,
    • Problem-based learning
    • Collaborative learning
    • Learning by doing
    • Inquiry based learning
  • Interactions: Specific interactions are those between student-instructor, student-student, and student-content (Garrison, 2015).
  • Connections: Course content is clearly connected to assignments, activities, and learning objectives (Quality Matters, 2018).
  • Consistency: The course maintains a consistent structure for each module enabling students to quickly navigate the course and support readability (e.g., headers, font style, font size; Quality Matters, 2018).


Asynchronous: Course-related items (e.g., content, resources, activities, etc.) are always accessible via the LMS.

Synchronous: Course-related items (e.g., meetings) are accessible at the same time for two or more individuals.