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Lessons in Instructional Design

I’m creating a course, well more like a self-help area in our ANGEL system, on Instructional Design. Since I’m new to the field but am a veteran online student, most of my information comes from personal experience from the student side of things and how I always wished things would be. A lot of what I write is completely of my own making from my own logic which can be dangerous ground. SO, before I unleash my lessons on the poor, unsuspecting faculty at our university I thought I would show them here. Keep in mind, none of the lessons are supposed to be long or overly bossy. Our faculty, in general, do not take well to any pedagogy instructions especially ones given by someone they deem as inexperienced. So I have left these as light-hearted suggestion.

The following are the first 3 pages (there will be 3 more when I get them written).

Let me have it. Tell me exactly what you think. šŸ™‚ I promise I’ll try not to cry….too hard anyway. šŸ˜‰

How Would I…

418215_2815_smallWhen thinking about the design, structure, and content of your online course you should always keep the learner’s view close to your thoughts. After you create something, look at it from the student perspective. Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Would I get the point of this learning object?
  • Would this object interest me?
  • Would I find this object boring or unnecessary?
  • Is it obvious why this object is here?

I’m sure we can all agree, excessive, boring, unnecessary information and tasks are not good for learning. We don’t want to turn the student’s learning experience into a painful one. If the objects you create are not things you personally would find interesting then I’m sure a typical college student would not find it interesting either.

If your objects are interesting to you, go that extra step and try to put yourself into a student’s shoes. Make sure it is something that would interest them. Give them a reason to want to learn from you. Make it interesting and entertaining (if possible). But remember, there is a fine line you will need to learn to walk. You want to make it interesting and entertaining without turning the course into a joke.

I know that is a lot of work and that balance is a hard one to find, but you are a good instructor, you can do it!

The Dark is Scary

474426_67978012_smallNo one likes to be left in the dark about things they are supposed to be involved in. Information is light to your students. The more information you can give them about what you expect of them and how you expect them to achieve goals, the better. This includes a well established syllabus, ease of navigation through the course, and feedback, feedback, feedback.

The best way to start creating a well lit course is to create an informative syllabus. Once again, you will find yourself walking a thin line. You need to make it informative enough the students feel confident in your requirement without overwhelming them with verbiage. Make your requirements clear and concise. No one wants to wade through a 20 page document just to understand what is required of them. If you do find you need a 20 page syllabus (or even a 10 page one) you might want to think about making a condensed version to go along with the detailed version. This way all bases are covered. You can provide the students with a quick reference on what you expect while also providing them with a way to find additional information if the quick reference isn’t quite deep enough for their understanding.

The next step for a well lit course is good navigation. You need to provide your students with a clear path to follow. If the course you are teaching doesn’t require linear learning (which is also a great teaching method) be sure all resources are clearly labeled and categorized appropriately.

The final step is to always give the students feedback. Let students know what they are doing wrong AND right. It’s easy to find yourself only providing feedback for wrong answers (I am as guilty as anyone else) but it is just as important to reinforce when students do something right.


1055796_39177408_smallAs much as we all would like to live in a perfect world, where young adults have been properly taught the delicate art of respect, we don’t. Although, to be fair, even if a young adult has been taught the art of respect, the rules do seem to change occasionally from person to person and confusion is inevitable. Throw these confused young adults into an online environment where it is hard to distinguish the fact they are dealing with real people, and mass chaos can ensue.

What do I mean by that? Online students are not always the best about respecting their instructors. I honestly believe much of that problem stems from the anonymity of the online world. But, for whatever reason may cause it, I have a solution that may help.

Much like lighting a student’s way through a course, information is the key here. At the beginning of the course, lay down YOUR laws as to what constitutes respect and how you expect to be treated. Along with that, lay down the laws as to how they can expect to be treated. From my own person experience, I find letting students know they will be receiving respect from you until they do something to lose that privilege is the best way to keep the respect ball rolling.

Categories: eLearning Tags: ,
  1. dstev
    July 1, 2009 at 9:50 am

    I love the pictures. I especially love the concept of a well-lit online course. I’d live to see you develop that concept more, not necessarily for the professors but for me!

    I have a bad habit when it comes to offering any critique of written content — I tend to want to re-write the work in my own voice. That isn’t fair, nor is it an improvement. If you’re interested, DM me.

    Writing ideas: Choose a random number between 10 and 40. Whatever number you chose, go see if you can eliminate that many words from your posts without losing amy meaning. You may find yourself losing phrases like “I’m sure” and “I know.” Adopt active voice so that phrases like “…are not good learning” might change to “…hinder learning.”

    Finally, after trying out these suggestions, revert back to any phrases and word choices you think were better the way you had them!

    • Sue
      July 1, 2009 at 10:10 am

      Great ideas. I definately need to find my active voice when working with faculty.

      You make me chuckle. šŸ™‚

    • Sue
      July 1, 2009 at 10:15 am

      Oh ya, how do you want me to expand on the idea of “well lit”?

      • dstev
        July 1, 2009 at 10:37 am

        I don’t think you have to expand on it for your purpose up above, but I think the metaphor has great potential for anyone interested in developing courses for others. Maybe another blog post on it?

        The idea of online respect is also something I haven’t seen others address (in my oh so limited experience). Consider providing example up above so that it’s leass abstract. It would also be a great blog post!

        • Sue
          July 1, 2009 at 10:40 am

          I’m gonna have to do that. šŸ™‚

  2. July 24, 2009 at 6:48 am

    Thank you for this, some great ideas and similar to our thinking as well. Have a look at http://www.saffroninteractive.com/2009/blog/instructional-design/top-ten-tips-for-excellent-instructional-design/

  1. July 8, 2009 at 11:27 am

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