Designing Online Instruction

The best manner of designing instruction for online teaching and learning will vary depending on the time frame, topic, audience, and purpose of the instruction.  I prefer to identify these details first.  The rapid instructional design method is effective for identifying these key elements, with the addition of ADDIE.  The ADDIE model is useful for a variety of instructional design projects.  Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation (ADDIE) provides developers with useful, clearly designed phases for designing and developing instruction materials for a course (Peterson, 2003).  This model can be used for planning the instruction too.

The ADDIE model was used in the development of an instructional design course for Master’s level students in the Peterson (2003) study.  The use of this model throughout this project placed an emphasis on the learner rather than using a teacher-centered approach (2003).  The focus of the Analysis phase for this project was the target audience.  A needs analysis was conducted (Peterson, 2003).  Identifying objectives and how these would be met, planning, delivery of the objectives, and aligning goals and objectives with assessments were each a part of the Design phase.  “Production” mode was entered during the Development phase in order to deliver what was created in the past two phases.  Designers took an active role in the Implementation phase, as the role intensified during this phase.  The use of summative evaluations for overall improvement was a part of the Evaluation phase (Peterson, 2003).

Throughout each phase of this project, the course designer cycled back to various phases to ensure effective delivery.  The concluding remarks focus on the application of ADDIE to a variety of settings and projects.  ADDIE is a useful framework with a systematic and generic structure, making it a good choice for a variety of courses and programs (Peterson, 2003).  Feedback can be gathered throughout each phase and corrective action can be taken and modifications made when necessary.  In this study, the audience consisted of adults in a graduate level course–adult learners are my primary audience for instructional design.

I have recently been researching and writing about the importance of developing an understanding and awareness of theoretical principles, which should come before the design of an online course.  One approach, the activity theory, was one I applied to the online classroom in a recent small-scale project.  The activity theory looks at human activity and the mind when interacting or in a certain environment.  The activity needs to be understood and analyzed within the environment, such as an analysis of who is doing the activity, what kind of activity, and the outcomes or goals (Jonassen & Murphy, 1999). The unique constructivist factor that sets the activity theory apart from behaviorist or cognitive learning theories is the definition of when learning occurs.  In behaviorist and cognitive theories, learning is defined as occurring before the associated activity takes place.  Conversely, in the activity theory, conscious learning emerges from the activity itself (Jonassen & Rohrer-Murphy, 1999).

The activity theory was chosen for this project because it is a constructivist and social-constructivist theory that fits in well to adult learning settings.  This approach places an emphasis on understanding the social and individual influences on the learners and the instructor.  The activity theory, ADDIE and rapid instructional design are approaches I will continue to use, which match my theoretical perspective.

Peterson, C. (2003). Bringing ADDIE to life: Instructional design at its best. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia 12(3), 227-241.

Jonassen, D.H. & Murphy, L.R. (1999). Activity theory as a framework for designing constructivist learning environments. Education Technology Research and Development, 47(1), 61-79.

Wang, F. & Hannafin, M.J. (2005). Design-based research and technology-enhanced learning environments. Education Technology Research and Development, 53(4), 5-23.

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