What is Instructional Design?

Instructional design is the evidence-based practice of creating teaching and learning experiences to make knowledge and skill acquisition more efficient, effective and appealing in blended and online environments.

The process consists of determining the current level and needs of the learners, defining the end learning outcomes that successful students will be able to achieve, and making sure that teaching and assessment activities are aligned to support students in doing so.

During this process, an instructional designer will suggest pedagogical principles, learning theories, and possible uses of technology, for face-to-face, online or blended (hybrid) learning spaces, in student-only, teacher-led or community-based settings.

Working with an Instructional Designer

“Last year I put my first course online through EDC. The instructional designer made it all so easy. Initial and ongoing support was awesome.”

“Instructional designers often have a wealth of knowledge on learning theory and best practices at their fingertips. I can claim expertise on my subject area but it doesn’t mean that I always know the best approaches to help students learn it. The instructional designer whom I worked with used a particular tool in cuLearn to build a clean and simple interface for content navigation.”

“The EDC instructional designer rotated my course optics, removed the red eye, and zoomed in on the learning outcomes and critical reminders. The course content is the same but the students are now able to navigate easily because the signposts are clear, the pathways swept, and there are speed bumps along the way.”

Working with an instructional designer at the EDC could involve a single meeting to gain some fresh teaching ideas or teaming up for a full course design or re-design project. In the initial meeting, the ID will become familiar with your teaching philosophy, teaching goals and your ideas of how to reach these objectives.

The ID will provide you with suggestions on teaching strategies, learning outcomes, student assessment, educational technology, improving student engagement and motivation, overall course layout and course evaluation strategies that will improve the experience of both students and instructors.

An ID can also suggest services offered by other professionals and teams who can further assist you in their area of expertise, for example:

Typical Course Design Process

Course design is not a linear process; many steps overlap and/or are repeated. Some steps are omitted in certain projects (e.g. closed-captioning, technology testing), while others are added (e.g. recording videos in the field, translating documents, incorporating third-party software applications and tools, etc.).

While all courses do not follow the same model, this example of an “ideal” online (web-based) course design and development process will give you an idea about the steps involved. This process includes collaboration between the course instructor(s), the EDC and CUOL.

The EDC uses a set of guidelines when evaluating online courses developed in collaboration between instructors and our staff members. These guidelines can also be used as a ‘self-evaluation’ tool to assist instructors in designing a new online course or in revising an existing one.

Important note about intellectual property: As the course instructor, you retain complete ownership and proprietary rights to the online version of your course in the same way you have for your in-class version. You control the content and updates to your course and make facilitation and teaching assistance support recommendations.

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