Successful team-based development of an online course with an external partner: An analysis of the perspectives of academics

Sharon Croxford, Colleen Thomas, Deanna Horvath, Melissa Buultjens, Emma Stirling, Amy E Larsen, Tania Romano Stasis, Jessica Radcliffe, Phil Buultjens, Stuart McDonald, Adrienne Forsyth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Course and subject development teams are increasingly seen in the tertiary online teaching environment and they face a unique set of challenges. The purpose of this study was to synthesise and share learnings of 12 academics involved in the development of subjects with an external partner for a new multidisciplinary online health science course at an Australian university, in order to improve ongoing development within the course and inform new course development. In this case study, thematic analysis of focus group discussions and qualitative survey data identified five key themes related to the development process: time management, setting expectations, communication, the development team, and ownership. Barriers to productive subject development included unrealistic timelines, unclear lines of communication, unmet or unrealistic expectations and lack of recognition of team members’ expertise, and lack of support for genuine collaboration. Team-based development of an online course has the potential to be a rewarding experience for academics. In order for the benefits to be realised, approaches to development underpinned by a community-centred framework, observing core values such as collaboration, shared sense of purpose and expectations, would address a number of the issues identified in this study.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5
JournalJournal of University Teaching and Learning Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Collaborative online subject/course (individual unit of study) development
  • Expectations of learning design process/platform
  • External education business partner
  • Institutional support/resourcing
  • Subject/course development teams

Cite this