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My Perspective on Instructional Design

Instructional Design is not just for instructional designers. It is an approach that helps educators create effective and efficient learning experiences for their students.  Educators must know how to create an effective path for the information to the forefront and presenting it to the learner in an order that makes sense to them. Proper instructional design ensures students learn efficiently by creating high-quality learning materials that consider students' strengths and weaknesses.


As an educator with over 20 years under my proverbial belt, I have learned through trial and error the importance of instructional design, both in face-to-face and online courses.


When information is framed and chunked into engaging and palatable bites learning skyrockets!

Theories on Learning Design

There are many different learning design theories, including ADDIE, Dick and Carey, SAMR, among a host of others from which to choose.  However, I always want a road map, and beginning with the end in mind is where I start.

If I leave my new home state of Texas and take the family to Disney World in Florida, I would not just hop in my car and take off without my trusty GPS to guide my way because I may get off track or, worse, completely lost.  The same could be said for curriculum design.  If we don't have a plan of where we want our learners to know, apply, do, etc. at the end of the learning, what's the point?

road trip navigation.jpg

Backwards Design

My first step in curriculum design is the apply the UbD framework. Understanding by design was developed by McTighe and Wiggins to structure the curriculum designing process.  My colleagues will tell you that I tend to do what they call "Michelleize", and the UbD process gets tweaked as well because each course, presentation, lesson is different and should be approached as such.  I use my expert knowledge in curriculum design to assist the instructor, coach, and presenter in thinking about what she would like to accomplish at the 'end' and begin the designing of from there.


Once the end goal has been accomplished, for example, teachers will complete the course with a working knowledge of how to use Canvas LMS and have one module completed. The next step would be to chunk the task into manageable pieces called modules.  If the modules are large, they can be further chunked into smaller chunks called lessons.

Each module/lesson will have objective(s), essential question(s), real-world or content connections, learn section, practice, formative assessment, etc. 

Real World UbD Example

Canvas LMS module breakdown.png

Returning to our example of "Teachers will complete the course with a working knowledge of how to use Canvas LMS and have one module completed."  This course on Canvas Basics was broken down into seven chunks (to the left) called modules.  Each module was chunked into bite size components of an effective lesson (below). The assignment for each module was a section of the final product, which was one completed module based on her own grade level and subject area.

canvas lesson breakwown.png

Mitigating Cognitive Load

Mitigating cognitive load for students and ease of assessment, both formative and summative, for instructors should be the goal of a solid instructional framework.  Then apply excellent instructional design practices for engagement, and you will have a highly effective course, presentation, or lesson. 

Below you will find several videos I created for teachers to assist them in basic instructional design principles.  

Design Playlist

Please note, these videos were for the Spring of 2020 Covid-19 crash course and are not the highest quality of voice and editing practices.

The main points were the content and teacher understanding.

Photo Credits

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