May 12, 2022

5 Quick Tips to Improve Your Instructional Design – Campus Technology

Online learning

5 quick tips to improve your instructional design

Moving from a physical course to an online course requires rethinking how you deliver content, replicate classroom interactions, and identify areas for improvement.

When you convert a traditional face-to-face course to an online course, while much of the content may remain the same, the way it is delivered and learned will understandably change. A “mastery series” from Online Learning Consortium (OLC)focused on instructional design, teaches the basics of course design for effective online learning. Recently, longtime instructional designer Elisabeth Stucklen, one of the course facilitators, shared five areas to pay attention to as courses move into online mode.

1) Start with results in mind

Don’t underestimate the value of pre-planning, Stucklen said. It begins by developing a Course Outcomes Matrix, a list of “well-written” learning objectives that express what you want students to achieve by the end of the course, the strategies you will use to achieve them, and how. you will measure whether they have been learned or not.

course outcome matrix

Sample Course Learning Outcomes Matrix (Image courtesy of OLC)

A Course Outcome Matrix applies to both online and in-person courses. The difference, Stucklen said, is the modality: “There could be different ways to achieve these results.” As an example, she notes, “In a face-to-face course, there is obviously room for discussions. You are there with everyone, you can present content, you can do group activities. But if you go online, you have to do activities in different ways to implement these interactions.

2) Get personalized with discussion forums

While Stucklen uses the phrase “death by discussion,” the discussion board has been a reserve for online courses for years. Forums “always have their place”, she acknowledged, “but you have to design them well”.

The problem that comes up all too often, she says, is that online instructors feel compelled to use forums with “simple, factual information” that doesn’t lend itself well to discussion. “What are you going to add when someone has already found the correct answer?”

His advice is to use multimedia tools such as VoiceThread Where Flipgrid to move away from text-based responses and give students formats to mimic “that face-to-face aspect” and make the experience “more personal”.

voice thread


VoiceThread allows the instructor to post slides and students to respond with their own comments via webcam, audio, or text, which can also be commented.

Flipgrid is similar “but a bit more simplistic”, in that it’s video-based. Stucklen has primarily seen this tool used for class introductions, where students check in with a webcam or smartphone, talking a bit about themselves and what they hope to get out of the class.

Either, she said, “helps put a face to the name and make it seem like you’re not there all alone talking to a computer.”

For her own instruction, she is also considering the use of Kaizena, an add-on for Google Docs. This tool allows users to highlight text, add video comments, and include links to recorded lessons or “how-to” videos that need to be referenced again and again. Students have access to the same commenting tools as teachers and can respond to comments with their own responses.