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Instructional Design Framework

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When designing any course, it is important to first understand the learning context and learners' needs, why you will engage them in certain kinds of activities, and what support the learners will need to meet the goals of the course. In designing and implementing a learning experience, observed or gathered feedback of the students' and instructors' experience of the course is necessary to evaluate learning and to refine the course. This continuous process might collectively be called course design. 

Course design is a complex endeavor. Systematic methodologies can help to organize this process.

A systematic approach to designing learning experiences

ADDIE is a foundational instructional design methodology that provides a structure for reliably creating effective learning experiences for you and your students. ADDIE stands for: 

  • Analyze—This first step in the course design process encourages instructors to analyze their class's learning needs by identifying who you anticipate the learners in your class will be and what the outcomes and goals of your class are.
  • Design—Map out exactly what your course outcomes will be (i.e. what do you expect students to be able to do and know by the time the class is over). Build your syllabus and map out your course schedule.
  • Development—Create your course learning activities and assignments in line with your course syllabus and schedule.
  • Implement—Deliver your class in whatever mix of modalities is most appropriate, paying attention to how students are receiving the course content, and responding along the way.
  • Evaluate—Ask students for feedback on their learning experience (even after an individual activity) and start the ADDIE process over again to iterate and revise the course and instruction.

The reality of building and improving a course tends to be incremental and iterative, so expect to move through these different phases at different times for various elements of the course. For example, you may be implementing a new small-group learning activity for one unit, while simultaneously developing a lecture presentation based on student feedback for another unit. Rather than a single linear process akin to flowing one-way down a waterfall, you'll likely go through multiple simultaneous ADDIE cycles throughout the entire course.

With ADDIE and other design methodologies, you can take a systematic approach to develop and improve your online course.