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Instructional Design Framework

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Course design is a complex endeavor. With ADDIE and other design methodologies, you can take a systematic approach to developing and improving your courses. 

What is course design?

When designing any course, it is important to first understand:

  • the learning context and learners' needs
  • why you will engage learners in certain kinds of activities
  • what support 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 refine the course.

This whole process, from initial understanding to implementation and evaluation, might collectively be called course design

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 you to analyze the learning needs of the course by identifying who you anticipate the learners in your class will be, their likely prior knowledge and level of preparation, and the outcomes and goals of your class.
  • Design: Map out exactly what your course outcomes will be; that is, what do you expect students to be able to do and know by the time the course is over. Build your syllabus and outline your course schedule. Consider how your proposed activities and assignments will align with your course learning goals.
  • Develop: Create and refine 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). Reflect on the feedback and your own experiences, and determine what changes you might like to make. 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 and across different iterations of the course.