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Deployment and deadline setting guidelines for Distance Learning

Deployment and deadline planning

Development for distance learning modules needs to be completed well in advance of when students will study the module. It should also be protected time, preferably time-tabled into the academic developer’s schedule.

Most new modules will require a minimum of 200 hours of academic time for development. These hours should also be allocated appropriately according to other demands and take into account the resource schedules below which allow the instructional design team time to produce the content. 

On average, academic tutors will need to be deployed for around 50 hours per module per 25 students for delivering online modules. Where a course is supported by an online learning tutor, online learning tutors should be deployed for 30 hours per module per 25 students.

In order to spread these costs and resource requirements over a manageable time period, it is advisable to develop courses for part-time delivery prior to offering full time options. 

Deployment hours

For new module development, academics should be profiled at least 200 hours of development time per module:


Deployment hours

Instructional Design hours

Online Learning Tutor  hours

New module development




Refresh developed module (minor changes)




Revamp developed module (major changes)




Please note all hours are written in full person hours

Deadline setting

Deadlines are set collaboratively between DLU and the academics, usually on a module by module basis. It is important to adhere to deadlines, but if you foresee an issue please communicate it with the whole team so that we can put in measures to mitigate its effect. 

When setting deadlines, please take into account busy periods for the University (Exams and Marking) as well as holidays. 

The following tables provide guidelines for deadline setting: 

Type of development

Deadline for full content delivery


New module

16 weeks in advance of module teaching start date


Refresh of developed module (minor edits)

8 weeks in advance of module teaching start date


Revamp of developed module (major edits)

12 weeks in advance of module teaching start date


Module Developers to start creating content

Deadline to handover to Instructional Designers

Review period

Delivery (teaching) Date

14th February

1st June

14th August


14th May

1st September

14th December


14th September

1st January

14th April


When deadlines are missed

In the event of issues with module development, slipped deadlines are set as follows:

  • At least 4 teaching weeks delivered 6 weeks in advance of teaching start
  • A further 3 teaching weeks by teaching start
  • Remainder of the teaching weeks delivered in the first month after teaching start

It is not possible to develop content the week before the students are due to study it. Missing these slipped deadlines means there is a potential delay of delivery to students. 

 If slipped deadlines are not met, DLU will work to the following service levels: 

Late content – new development

up to 20 working days turnaround

Late edits

up to 10 working days turnaround

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Page last updated: 11/05/2018

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