VirtualMV/Digital Learning Technologies/Pedagogies/Instructional Design Models

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Instructional Design Models

Following completion of these readings you will:

  • Have an understanding of the big picture of course design
  • Know what Instructional design is
  • Understand the role of an Instructional designer
  • Understand three common Instructional Design Models and their uses in developing student learning experiences
  1. ADDIE
  2. Rapid Prototype
  3. OTARA

Course Design

In creating a new course, or redeveloping an existing one, it is important to ask three key questions:

  • Who are you learners and what do you want them to learn
  • How will you assess their learning
  • How will you support them in their learning

The following slide was prepared to introduce tutors to the process as they began redeveloping existing courses for blended delivery (a mix of learning environments - face to face and elearning or computer/technology enhanced and mediated teaching and learning).

Blended Learning at EIT

What is Instructional Design

Instructional design is the process of structuring learning content and activities during the process of course design, in a way that maximises the effectiveness of the learning and supports the students. Instructional designers work with subject matter experts to identify what students need to learn, shape the content and activities to match learning objectives and create multimedia to support the learning. They need to be aware of learning theories and pedagogies as well as being adept in the use of a wide range of educational design and development tools.

Instructional Design strategy

Instructional Design Models


An anacronym for Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation. It is often described as a waterfall model because each phase cascades into the next phase. It can be used iteratively.

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During analysis, the designer identifies the learning problem, the goals and objectives, the audience’s needs, existing knowledge, and any other relevant characteristics. Analysis also considers the learning environment, any constraints, the delivery options, and the timeline for the project.


A systematic process of specifying learning objectives. Detailed storyboards and prototypes are often made, and the look and feel, graphic design, user-interface and content is determined here.


The actual creation (production) of the content and learning materials based on the Design phase.


During implementation, the plan is put into action and a procedure for training the learner and teacher is developed. Materials are delivered or distributed to the student group. After delivery, the effectiveness of the training materials is evaluated.


This phase consists of (1) formative and (2) summative evaluation. Formative evaluation is present in each stage of the ADDIE process. Summative evaluation consists of tests designed for criterion-related referenced items and providing opportunities for feedback from the users. Revisions are made as necessary.

Some clear explanations of ADDIE on YouTube.

  1. ADDIE Analysis Phase
  2. ADDIE Design Phase
  3. ADDIE Development Phase
  4. ADDIE Implementation Phase
  5. ADDIE Evaluation Phase


The OTARA course design tool was developed by Kate Hunt (then of Whitireia Polytechnic) and Maurice Moore of UCOL, Palmerston North. (OTARA stands for Objectives, Theme (or context), Activities, Resources and Assessment).

The starting point to designing your a course is always the learning objectives. Mager (1984) states each learning objective has three parts:

  • Performance – describes what a learner is expected to be able to do.
  • Conditions – describes the environment under which the performance occurs.
  • Criterion – describes how well the learner must perform for it to be considered acceptable.

It is easy to become mesmerized by technologies, so this tool brings the focus back to objectives and assessment outcomes. When you have the objectives and outcomes mapped out, look at assessment. The assessment would need to align with the course objectives and the activities and resources you supply support the learner in meeting the assessment criteria. Add in activities next - what did the learner have to do to gain the necessary skills to be successful? Finally we provided the resources, the readings, presentations and information to support the learner in meeting these objectives. The context relates to the real life situation of the learner. Keep it real.

The OTARA model is applied to the design and development phases of the ADDIE model.

Hunt, K., & Moore, M. (2005).OTARA: An e ­learning design framework. eFest 2005. Wellington. 19th-22nd September. [PowerPint slides]. Retrieved from

Moodle Course Design: a high-wire act by Joyce Seitzinger. This presentation also mentions OTARA.

Joyces Presentation

The Storyboard or Script

As the broad picture of the OTARA is developed, it is a good time to start making a plan on how the course will look in whatever Learning management system (LMS) or delivery platform you choose to support it. You will need some preknowledge about how your chosen LMS or delivery mechanism works. Here we use the LMS Moodle (EITOnline), but it could equally have been any other LMS like Blackboard, Desire to Learn or even a wiki such as Michaels. The script starts to map out how the course will look, how the navigation will work, what the headings will say, what the links will allude to. As the script develops on paper, you can start building the course in the LMS.

Even in the early stages of design, you can probably enter into the LMS or other delivery platform weekly topic headings, a short overview of the learning objectives and ideas for activities. A good idea is to include placeholders where activities and resources may fit, even if they haven't been developed yet. You may already know how the learner will be assessed and this information can be included also. You may like to start building on the course introductory phase, items such as meet the tutor, information about the learning outcomes and how the learning will take place, these can all be indicated early in the process. Get these things in early, it all helps to scaffold the structure of the course.

The course will begin to take shape, from the big picture down to the smallest elements. Even at this point there is a creative, fluid element to the design, it is ok to move things around, find a better fit, a more closely aligned relationship with the other components. Update the script or storyboard as you make changes.

The idea behind the script lies in that once complete, you could hand it to someone else, they could follow it and build that exact course, word for word, activity for activity.


Rapid Prototyping is currently the most popular alternate approach to ADDIE and traditional instructional design.

With Rapid Prototyping, the steps are crunched together to reduce the amount of time needed to develop training or a product (Jones & Richey, 2000). The design and development phases are done simultaneously and evaluation is done throughout the process.

Rapid prototyping is non linear and offers a flexibility not found in the ADDIE model. Because users and designers offer feedback throughout the cycle of development, problems can be caught early. The continuous cycle of review and revision is the key.

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Blog Post describing Rapid Prototyping

Bonus Question...Think about the wiki. What would happen if it was not continually reviewed, improved and updated? How quickly do you think it would become dated and of no use for this course? Rapid prototyping allows development of current content in a climate of fast change.

Strengths and Weaknesses

There are many models to help in the process of instructional design. ADDIE and OTARA (when used singularly) are very linear models and follow prescriptive steps. The ADDIE model has several weaknesses:

  • The process becomes set and creativity is stymied
  • Not an iterative process - does not allow for change
  • Evaluation only occurs at the end

Iterative design on the other hand, of which rapid prototyping is one method, allows for constant refinement and change. A wiki is a good example of a platform perfectly designed for the iterative process, the page history keeps track of versioning and most changes are small and incremental. The content can be constantly refined, evaluated and improved on. There are two types of rapid prototyping, the waterfall method and the spiral method.


Agile design has been spawned from the software development industry and is based on a flexible collaborative and iterative approach. Read about it: What is Agile Learning Design

See also


Developed by Gilly Salmon, this ID Model is based on a team approach, usually facilitated over an intensive 2 day workshop. This is summarized below, for further information read the carpe diem planning process workbook

The process involves:

  • Identifying the program or course or module that requires transformation
    • This requires a team approach, teachers, Learning designers, technologies, librarians, program managers
  • Writing a blueprint
    • Setting the aims and goals, mission statement, align to the outcomes, ideas for assessment
  • Making a Storyboard
    • Drawing out the process of the learning and teaching (visual). See broad course outline storyboard concept used with the OTARA methodology
  • Building the online prototype
    • Create some real-life activities (testable). Draft on paper first, write instructions
  • Reality Check
    • Get colleagues to test your design and offer feedback
  • Review/Adjust
    • Fine tuning stage based on the feedback you get
  • Next steps
    • Action plan for the future, what else needs doing, what resources do you need, set deadlines. Visit

Must Dos, Should dos, Could dos, Would dos.

Further reading:

Salmon G, Wright P. (2014). Transforming Future Teaching through ‘Carpe Diem’ Learning Design. Education Sciences. 4(1):52-63. Available here,


The following document assesses each blended or online course against a set of standards to ensure a high quality product. This may be adapted for your own use. Learning Design Standards at EIT


Jones, T., Richey, R. (2000). Rapid prototyping methodology in action: A developmental study. Educational Technology Research and Development 48(2) pp. 63-80.

Mager, R. (1984) Preparing Instructional Objectives (2nd ed). Belmont, CA: Lake Publishing Company.

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VirtualMV/Digital Learning Technologies/Pedagogies/Instructional Design Models. (2024). In WikiEducator/VirtualMV wiki. Retrieved March 4, 2024, from http:    (zotero)