University of Minnesota

Time and Cost Considerations

Two of the most frequently asked questions by faculty considering the development of a blended or online course are: 1) how much time will it take? and 2) how much will it cost? On the surface, these are easy, clear-cut questions. The answers, however, vary significantly based on a number of factors involving course design and staffing/budget models:

  • Who does the majority of the work: faculty or professional staff
  • Level of instructional design applied to the course
  • Amount of "media richness"
  • Number of people who work on the course
  • Type of staff who work on the course
  • Role of the instructor/faculty member
  • Whether development costs are subsidized by an academic technology unit or paid for directly on a fee-for-service basis
  • Whether materials are already developed for a face-to-face course

Rough Time and Budget Estimates

Number of hours required for course design and development:
70 – 600 hours with an average of about 250 hours

Duration of project from start to finish:
Unless faculty/instructors have a dedicated leave period, most faculty/instructors should plan on a 6-9 month period in which they will design/develop an online course from an existing classroom-based offering.

Cost of project:
If an academic unit has a subsidized academic technology service group that develops online courses, the only cost to faculty is usually their time. If a unit does not have this type of academic technology group, the fee-for-service cost to develop a course typically ranges from $16,000 to $45,000.

Financing methods:

  • Academic technology service groups (where subsidized by collegiate units) provide online course design and development services.
  • External grants can provide the initial resources to develop many online courses.
  • Faculty release time – some faculty have secured release time to develop their online courses.
  • Continuing education units on the Twin Cities and Duluth campuses will also partner with collegiate units to provide initial design and development costs in exchange for sharing of future revenues where there is a strategic fit with their programs.

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