Instructional Design of an Online Course

“What did YOU do?” is a question regarding course design that haunted me after a job interview.  This question came after I described a successful reading course that I created for a developmental studies program.  I’d taken the regular, F2F, course and adapted it to the online format.  I knew the course was successful based on student performance and student opinions of the course design.  However, I couldn’t encapsulate during the interview what I had done besides stating that it took me about 34 hours to create.

Now that I’m studying instructional design and development (ID), I’ve been looking at the various research theories on this topic.  I came across the ADDIE process: Analysis + Design+ Develop+ Implement+ Evaluate.  When I read it, I immediately thought, that’s what I did!  Even if you aren’t aware of instructional design processes, it adheres to an intelligent pathway that you’re probably already following intrinsically; however, it isn’t an ID model. Michael Molinda described ADDIE as “…these processes are considered to be sequential but also iterative…” (In Search of the Elusive ADDIE Model, May/June 2003, Performance Improvement).  ID is definitely iterative, in that as you go through the systematic approach, you’re constantly revamping content and concepts in a previous stage or at all the stages of the iterative process depending on your findings.

Acronym: Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluation

The Wikipedia entry on this topic provides several questions that you would answer at each stage of the process.  However, ADDIE isn’t an instructional design model, just phases in a process. For example, it doesn’t provide what I’d consider the most important question for the analysis stage—What technology tools and platforms would best fit the content to be covered?  For course creation, I was given a textbook and a computerized reading remediation program for instruction and eCollege as the learning management system (LMS).  The topics to be covered in the computerized reading program,, were designated by my administrators.  The rest was left up to me to design and implement.  Since I strongly believe in students constructing their knowledge (see my teaching philosophy), I designed the course to maximize student interaction with each other and with myself as the facilitator of their learning.

I used my background as a literacy coach to first attack the exact reading strategies and skills to cover in a semester from the textbook and computer program.  This entailed correlating the textbook chapters with the MyReadingLab (MRL) topics.  Then I analyzed what was missing to form a rounded reading program given the material provided.  I recognized the lack of consistency in vocabulary development, so I incorporated a project on to enhance students’ learning.  My course design wove the teaching and learning components (textbook, MRL,, and eCollege) into a multifaceted class.  For instance, I used the threaded discussions on the LMS to spur student reflection on the textbook topics.  Also, I embedded the MRL and web pages into the LMS; in that way, students didn’t have to stray far from the online course to log in to various components.

Then I used my training from TESOL’s Principles & Practices of Online Learning to analyze how to design the reading course on the LMS so that it was practical, effective, and attractive.  According to the Wikipedia entry on instructional design, “Instructional Design (also called Instructional Systems Design) is the practice of maximizing the effectiveness, efficiency, and appeal of instruction and other learning experiences.”  Once again, I intrinsically knew what to do.  I believe that this is what we all do, hopefully, even when designing our F2F courses.  It’d take me several pages to explain the rest of my reading course design to you.  Nevertheless, I hope that I shared enough to help you understand some of the basic concepts of instructional design and development. Read my blog post about my formal and informal definitions of ID, as I continue to learn about it in my doctoral studies.

Sandra Annette Rogers

Note: According to Michael Molinda of Indiana University, the source of ADDIE is unclear (2003).

Author: teacherrogers

Content developer, instructional designer, trainer, and researcher

One thought on “Instructional Design of an Online Course”

  1. Wow! This is my most popular blog with 2400 hits. Good to know. I will definitely write more about this. Feel free to send me specific topics on online teaching, instructional design, or college reading courses.


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