Instructional Design for Online Classroom and Courses

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It is a fact that the online learning solutions are becoming increasingly popular, particularly in the in the field of education with more and more students opting to learn from the comfort of their homes during flexible hours. This has cast a burden on the instructional designers who are expected to develop advanced methods using emerging technologies and make the online learning process more effective.

What Instructional Design Means?

Instructional design is a process of creating effective plans for learning methods incorporating the general principles of instruction. Although one comes across many different definitions of instructional design, the widely accepted definition is that “instructional design is the systematic process of translating general principles of learning and instruction into plans for instructional materials and learning,” which is attributed to Sara McNeil, University of Houston.

Instructional design, for it to be meaningful and effective, should be the right blend of technology and education. Unfortunately, the role of instructional design (ID) in online learning is often misunderstood as designers try to give excess importance to technology at the cost of learning methods. The primary challenge facing instructional designers is how to help students learn and to asnwer the question about what part technology should play.

Prior to the advent of Internet, there had been some well-conceived traditional classroom-based methods deploying a variety of instructional designs. The question is: how effective will these models be for online learning?

The distinguishing factors between instructional design for classroom courses and online education are nothing substantial. Planning the instructional design for the physical classroom is relatively easier as it does not use much technology. But, in online instructional design, technology does play a part, and it must be imaginatively used. Thus, practitioners of instructional design for online courses will have to determine to what extent technology may be used to enhance the learning skills of the students.

Instructional Design Models

After intensive research, two different models of instructional design have found favor with many: the ADDIE model and the Dick and Carey model.

ADDIE is an acronym for five consecutive phases: Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation. These five phases are to be followed by the practitioners in the same sequential order. Each one of these phases will naturally lead the instructional designer to the next phase. The end product of the previous phase acts as starting point of next phase.

The Dick and Carey Model is another popular instructional design model accepted by many. It is a systematic method of designing instruction taking into account the criticality of each component for successful student learning.

Need for Online Assessments

Creating online performance-based assessment is critically important as each student’s progress has to measured at regular intervals and correctives applied. It should be kept in mind that online students do not have the benefit of physical presence of the teacher to clarify doubts as and when they arise. Thus, any material created for online delivery must be written as unambiguously as possible to avoid any confusion. The few important things practitioners must consider while creating online assessments are the periodicity of assessments, the type of questions to be asked, awarding of grades, and the nature of feedback information to be provided to students.


To develop successful instructional designs for online learning, the practitioners must thoroughly understand how exactly the process of learning takes place, what the basic factors that influence learning behavior are, the key role of memory, how to make students enjoy self-learning, and how best to use technology to further these ends.

Emerging Internet based technologies create opportunities for new types of learning methodologies that allow learners across the world to study at their own pace and during hours most convenient to them. Thus, persons developing instructional design must respect this expectation and evolve proper online learning systems.