Online Course Writing Guidelines

General Guidelines

Following are the general guidelines recommended for PDHonline courses:

  1. In general, your online course topics should fit the needs of professional engineers, architects, land surveyors, inspectors and contractors who need PDHs to renew their professional licenses.
  2. You can either provide originally authored lecture notes or utilize the technical resources already available in the public domain on the Internet. You may also use a readily available publication or book as your course content.
  3. Your lecture notes should be original work. Copyrighted materials can only be presented with the copyright holder's permission. You as the course provider are responsible for obtaining this permission.
  4. When your course content is based on a publication by others or public-domain materials on the web, you need to search our course library to see if the same material has been used in an existing course. Courses based on the duplicated content will not be accepted unless they are presented in different medium or format from the existing one. Acceptable course medium or format includes, but is not limited to, text, slideshow, audio, video, live-online or webcasting. reserves the right to reject any course that is deemed duplicated or outside the expertise of the provider.
  5. All course materials shall be submitted in electronic file format. You should follow the course submittal formats and requirements described below.
  6. If online technical resources are referenced in the course materials, the author should indicate the detailed information (URL) regarding the websites containing the materials referenced.
  7. If the course materials contain graphics, photographs or other images, they should be included and embedded in the document submitted.
  8. If it is necessary to submit graphics, photographs or other images separately, they should be in the form of image files (.gif or .pcd or .jpeg, etc.).
  9. The size of the image files should be limited to 20KB if feasible. Large image files take a long time to load into the student's computer, and should be avoided where possible.
  10. The author should estimate the approximate study time required for an attendee (student) to review and comprehend the course materials and to pass the quiz successfully.
  11. The study time for each course should be limited to a maximum 15 hours (15 PDH units). If possible, one long course should be split into two to reduce study time.

Course Submittal Formats and Requirements

General Course Information

General Information shall be in a word processing document (preferably MS Word) and shall include the following:

  • Careful attention should be given to the selection of a course title. Titles with more than six or seven primary words are too lengthy and can generate disinterest. Conversely, one or two word titles such as “Bridges” or “Pressure Vessels” are too broad in nature and should be avoided.
  • Course Description (The Course Description will be in the first screen that a user will look at before moving to the course itself. It is important to have a succinct, but revealing composition about your course that will generate student interest.)
  • Course Outline (a condensation of the course material in one or two brief paragraphs including recommended PDH credits for the course)
  • Learning Objective (3 learning objectives for each PDH credit. For example, a 4-PDH course would require 12 learning objectives.)
  • Intended Audience
  • Benefit to the Audience
  • Course Introduction
  • Course Summary
  • Related Links and References

Course Content

The course Content shall be a stand-alone document in any of the following electronic formats:

  • MS Word (Preferred)
  • Word Perfect
  • Power Point (with speaker's notes included)
  • PDF

Course Quiz and Answer Keys

Course Quiz and Answer Keys shall be in a word processing document (preferably MS Word). The requirements for the quiz are:

  • 10 quiz questions for the first PDH credit and 5 quiz questions for each additional PDH credit. For example, a 4-PDH course would require a minimum of 25 quiz questions.
  • Quiz questions may be of the multiple-choice type or a combination of multiple-choice and True/False.
  • When True/False questions are used, they should not be more than 50% of the quiz content.
  • Up to 6 choices may be used for a multiple-choice question.
  • There is no limit on the maximum number of quiz questions.
  • Indicate the quiz answer at the end of the quiz or mark the correct answers using a red font color.

Resume and Brief Biography

With the first course submission only, provide a detailed resume with a brief biography.

Your resume shall include the following information:

  • Full name, address and contact numbers
  • Professional licensure status
  • Special certifications
  • Current employment title
  • Degree earned, with name and location of institution, major, and date received
  • Working and/or teaching experiences
  • Previous professional positions
  • Qualification to teach the course
  • Professional Affiliations

The brief biography, which will be displayed online in the Providers Section at our website, shall be one to two paragraphs. The format of your resume shall resemble the one in the sample resume (an MS Word file). For details, please download the sample resume.

Special Considerations

PDHonline users practice in many specialties, so it is important to keep in mind that not many will be experts on your topic. In order to make your course effective, interesting, and easy for users to study, please make the following considerations when developing your course:

  1. Start with a clear format or organizational structure for your online courses.
  2. Outline the important aspects of your lecture.
  3. Stress nouns and active verbs. Avoid passive voice when possible.
  4. Proofread carefully to avoid spelling and grammatical mistakes.
  5. Make sure that the images, tables and charts are legible.
  6. Ensure that quiz questions relate directly to the materials presented.
  7. Have a knowledgeable colleague peer-review your work before submission.

Tuition Rates

The current standard tuition rate is $25 to $30/PDH credit. Discounted tuition rates may be applied to courses offering more than 4 PDH credits. Special rates may also be arranged between the provider and Tuition may be discounted during promotional periods. Free online courses may be offered if a corporate sponsor is available.

Publishing Your Online Course

Once accepted by, your online course materials will be assigned to our staff for implementation. During the implementation process, we may ask you to test the pre-release version of the online course as a part of the PDHonline quality assurance program. We will jointly produce the final version that will appear on the PDHonline websites.

Remember, online publishing is a partnering effort between you, the course provider, and We are always available to assist you should you have any questions about content, format or procedures. You may contact us at
5272 Meadow Estates Dr
Fairfax, VA 22030
Phone: 703-988-0088