Training Educators to Design and Develop ODL Materials/ID Models

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Tutorial.png Workshop Modules Home.png Principles of ODL | ID Models | Needs Analysis | Developing Learners’ Profile | Methods of Delivery | Content Development Methodology for ODL | Types of Assessment in ODL | Developing a Student Guide | Relevant Technologies | Course Evaluation | Other Key Issues

Instructional Design Models



As educators we are all accustomed to devising instructional designs for the delivery of our face-to-face courses. Although instructional designs differ for the two modes of delivery, face-to-face and ODL, they are all linked to the various theories of learning such as Conditioning and Cognitive Processing. In this module you will be exposed to various Instructional design models most of which involve the process of analysing learner profile and goals; the development of a delivery system to meet learner profile; the development of content; piloting the content and evaluating and refining the materials if needed. In addition, the module explains some emerging concepts in elearning such as content driven, process driven and interactive affects the nature of your design. As you go through the information you will be exposed to approaches in desigining instruction for e-learning and the types of computer software, such as mind maps that are available to assist the design process. Finally you are provided with a comprehensive guide for developing ODL materials.

Module Objectives

At the end of the unit the learner should be able to:

  • Define Instructional Design
  • Define key concepts in Instructional Design
  • Identify theories of learning used in Instructional Design
  • Differentiate between the different types of Instructional Design Models
  • Explain the importance of the different design models for the Web
  • Use basic Instructional Design guidelines to design instruction


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List at least three (3) factors to consider when designing instruction for your class. As we go through this module, we will compare our lists.

This activity can also be done in small groups


So what is an instructional design?

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Instructional Design

Instructional design is an organized procedure or process for translating general principles of learning and instruction into plans for instructional materials and learning during the development of instructional materials or programmes. This systematic approach provides a step-by-step process for the analysis of learners' needs, the design and development of training materials, and the evaluation of the effectiveness of the training intervention.

In recent years more than 100 instructional design models have been proposed by different theorists and experts in the field of distance education. However most have been based on the foundations created in the "ADDIE MODEL" Whatever the ID model, it makes use of the underlying principles of the popular learning theories.


  1. Analysis: Define your instructional goals, learner profile, etc. At this phase you develop a clear understanding of the "gaps" between the desired outcomes or behaviors, and the audience's existing knowledge and skills.
  2. Design: Choose an instructional approach and develop your learning objectives. It also involves the documentation of your assessment instruments, exercises, and content.
  3. Develop: Author or produce your content materials. It is the actual creation of your learning materials
  4. Implement:Distribute materials to your learners
  5. Evaluate and revise: Determine the adequacy of the distributed materials in achieving the objectives. The last two phases are like conductiing a pilot.

View this presentation on description of the design process.

Icon present.gifTips:

As you work your way through the design ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who are my learners?..... Learner Profile
  • What are their needs?.... Goals and Objectives
  • What tools do I need?.... Content
  • How can I solve their needs?... Strategy
  • Is the strategy working or should I change it? Evaluation and Revision.}}


The ADDIE model has been criticized by some as being too systematic, that is, too linear, too inflexible, too constraining, and even too time-consuming to implement. This has lead to the development of newer design models that emphasize a more holistic, iterative approach to the development of training. Rather than developing the instruction in phases, the entire development team works together from the start to rapidly build modules, which can be tested with the student audience, and then revised based on their feedback. This section highlights the main features of four of the more popular alternative models.

View printable version of alternative ID Models as well as some common devices related to each type of theoretical approach

Your may also which to visit the following site for advantages and disadvantages of the ADDIE MODEL

Theories of learning used in instructional design

Introduction As mentioned earlier any instructional design model that has been developed is somehow related to one or more learning theories such as Behaviourists, Cognitivistists, Constructivists, Information Processing, etc.

View presentation on summary of main learning theories

See resources below about theories of learning in instructional design.


Some common devices that are found with each type of theoretical approach

Type of Theory Learning Devices Used
  • learning objectives stated
  • tasks broken down into small steps
  • mosts tasks have clear right or wrong answers
  • learners assesssed against the stated learning objectives
  • the learning package prescribes what is to be learnt
  • learning objectives stated
  • task broken down into small steps
  • learners assessed against the stated learning objectives
  • a wide variety of tasks, but within the scope of the stated objectives
  • material is chunked into small, meaningful pieces
  • mnemonics are used to aid memory
  • advance organisers are used to help learners see the structure of the topic
  • simplication of real-world situatiions
  • the learning package tends to prescribe what is to be learnt
  • learner choice of task or situation
  • authentic, real-world tasks
  • case studies
  • complexity of the real world presented in the tasks
  • collaborative learning tasks
  • opportunities to learn from observing others (e.g., trainee teaching as observer in a classroom)
  • the learning package tends to be open-ended in terms of what is to be learnt
  • self-evaluatiion rather than formal assessment

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Think about your own learning environment. How would you apply the learning theories to design instruction for your specific course?

Instructional & learning design for the Web

Emerging Concepts in E-Learning

Distance education has come to be known by many names such as E-Learning, technology-enhanced learning, blended e-learning,computer-mediated pedagogy and many others. This emerging method of delivering education does have its share of innoviative ideas for both the tools and procedures that can be utilized.

View Printable File on Emerging concepts in elearning here

Instructional Design and E-Learning Environments

Like the ADDIE and other models similar drawbacks exist in the traditional software but this has forced software engineers and researchers to adopt more contemporary models that would solve the problems encountered. While designing online courses, the following instructional design process should focus on three key inter-dependent components that would guarantee successful implementation:

  • Pedagogy
  • Technology
  • Usability

Read more on the Pedagogy-Technology-Usability triad

Of course an educator who wants to write material to be delivered as an elearning course needs NOT be an expert in all three areas. An e-learning course requires a set of interdisciplinary skills that can be provided by different professionals. An e-learning courseware development team would normally consist of the:

  • Content-Expert
  • Instructional Designer (normally in most cases, he/she is the team leader for the project)
  • Web Communication Designer (conceptual Design of e-learning environment)
  • Web and Multimedia Developer (technical implementation)
  • Computer/system Administrator (optional)

You may also view a summary presentaion. on emerging concepts in elearning.

The process: A walkthrough in the instructional design of learning scenarios of an elearning module

Whether you prefer your course to be content-based or activity-based, the main basic principles apply. In this section, you will be guided through the instructional/pedagogical design of learning scenarios of an activity-based module named "Educational Technologies and Computer-based learning environments". The module exists in two different e-learning versions. The first version is a 'light-weight' mainly 'portable' version while the second version is hosted on the Moodle e-learning platform. The 'light-weight' version of the module can be accessed on the following address:
Username: gemstudent
Password: gemstudent

The instructional design process walkthrough

Instructional Design for Mobile Devices such as PDAs and Mobile Phones

Mobile devices such as PDAs and 3G mobile phones are becoming more and more accessible especially among the student community in general. The concept of mobile learning is taking higher dimensions and there are many prototype systems that have been built and tested by research communities throughout the world.

While the technology embedded in these devices make it possible to dispensate educational support and materials, the instructional design process needs to be adapted to suit the constraints imposed by these devices. Furthermore, the main constraint is that these devices would be very difficult to replace traditional paper or computers in the learning process but they can mainly be used as a complement to the process.

In the context of lifelong learning, Yuen and Wang (2000) postulate that m-learning fulfills growing demands for learning opportunities that enable learners to ‘learn while you earn on the go’. This idea is supported by the assumption of Shepherd (2001) that 50% of the workforce does not sit at a desk, but instead is standing, walking around a factory. Although this argument shows that m-learning does fit into the work-style requirements of learners, the main question is whether such environments are really conducive to learning.

Is it possible for learning to effectively take place in a site construction environment or while moving on a truck or while moving around in a factory?

Computer-Aided Instructional Design

Just as computers have helped in a number of domains, a number of software tools have been developed to help instructional designers improve productivity in their work. Such tools are called computer-aided instructional design just as computer-aided software engineering which are tools that help in the development of software.

Other ICT related tools that help in the pedagogical design of learning materials

Mind-maps Software

A mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks or other items linked to and arranged radially around a central key word or idea. It is used to generate, visualize, structure and classify ideas, and as an aid in study, organization, problem solving, and decision making.

You can read more on Wikipedia

A number of free and open-source software exist that will allow you to create nice concept-maps. However, concept maps is not a must in every course but in many situations it can help to cater for learners with different learning preferences.

Examples of such tools are: Cmaps and Freemind

Knowledge Modelling Tools

Knowledge representation is an issue that arises in both cognitive science and artificial intelligence. In cognitive science it is concerned with how people store and process information. In the current context, we shall refer to knowledge modelling from the cognitive science perspective. A knowledge model is quite similar to a concept map in form but it may be fundamentally different from a conceptual point of view. Knowledge modelling tools normally have well-defined structures and rules to follow while developing the model.

On such knowlegde modeling tool that has been used in the context of instructional design in MOT (Mdelisation Objet Types|Object Oriented Modeling). MOT is a tool developed by researchers in Canada (Gilbert Paquette at the LICEF research center) to support in the MISA instructional design model.

MOT is an object-oriented modeling tool intended to express various fields of knowledge as graphic knowledge models. These models attempt to give a dynamic view on a particular field that is often vast and complex, and on the existing links between knowledge objects.

Research in cognitive sciences has demonstrated the existence of some types of knowledge objects, their links as well as relational rules between them. MOT exploits these notions. It regroups several graphic icons that represent abstract and concrete knowledge (concepts, procedures, principles, facts) and the possible links (composition, regulation, specialization, precedence, input/ product, example). Moreover, it integrates grammar rules that govern the types of links between knowledge objects.

Courseware Authoring: The eXe software tool

The eXe project is developing a freely available Open Source authoring application to assist teachers and academics in the publishing of web content without the need to become proficient in HTML or XML markup. eXe can export content as self-contained web pages or as SCORM 1.2 or IMS Content Packages.

The software can be downloaded from

Instructional Design Guideline


Instructional design guidelines are critical tools to ensure careful planning, correct ordering and processing of the course design, development and delivery. Though Instructional designs vary considerably according to the goals of the instructor a general list of guidelines can provide some form of monitoring devise as you develop materials. The following list of guidelines is a standard tool to monitor all instructional designs.

Click here to see the checklist

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There are numerous approaches to instructional design for ODL materials. Some approaches are more systematic such as the ADDIE model while others are more insular such as the Dick and Carey, Kemp and Hannafin and Peck models. Nevertheless,you will find that there are four main principles to every approach: you must know your target audience and develop strategies for meeting their needs (Analysis and Design), you then develop your materials and pilot it -(Development and Implementation); and finally checking the piloted materials to see if it is working (Evaluation). Whatever the approach, they are all based on the principles of one or more learning theories such as Behaviourism, Cognitivism, constructivism,etc.

As with all other educational phenomenen, there are numerous emerging oncepts in elearning and the available software keep changing. Nevertheless their development is guided by three interacting principles; pedagogy, technology and usability .It is also important that a variety of media (e.g. Urls, Powerpoint,audio clips, etc) and visuals (e.g. Cmaps, and Freemind)be used to enhance the design. The availability of eXe software tool and other Open Source or proprietary authoring tools makes everyone at ease in publishing of educational web content and you don't have to be an expert in HTML or XML expert.

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Web Resources

  1. COL Website -
  2. Wikipedia Online encyclopedia -


  1. Ayersman D.J., & Minden A. (1995). Individual differences, computers and instruction. Computers in human behaviour, 11(3-4), 371-390.
  2. Holzinger, A. (2005). Usability Engineering for Software Developers, Communications of the ACM (ISSN 0001-0782), 48(1), 71-74
  3. Nichols, M. (2003). A theory for eLearning. Educational Technology & Society, 6(2), 1-10, Available at
  4. Nielsen, J. (1999) Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity. New Riders.
  5. Santally, M., Senteni, A. (2004). A cognitive approach to evaluating web-based distance learning environments. Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, Vol 2(1), 45-53. [Online]. Available
  6. Santally, M. (2005). From Face-to-Face Classrooms to Innovative Computer-Mediated Pedagogies: Observations from the Field. Journal of Interactive Online Learning. Vol 3(4) [Online]
  7. Schneider, D. (2003). Conception and implementation of rich pedagogical scenarios through collaborative portal sites: clear focus and fuzzy edges. Proceedings of the International Conference on Open & Online Learning, ICOOL 2003: Mauritius.
  8. Shepherd, C. (2001). M is for maybe. Retrieved August 23, 2004, from
  9. Yuen, S., & Wang, S. (2004). M-learning: Mobility in Learning. World Conference on E-Learning in Corp., Govt., Health., & Higher Ed. 2004(1), 2248-2252. [Online]. Available: