Friday, 20 April 2012 21:31

Design Models

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Design Models MP900409023 © 2012 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

If design models seem like common sense, investigate a model that is more precise and tailored to your specific objectives. For example, an apprentice program or practicum course may benefit from a simple assessment by asking questions such as:

  • What do students need to know?
  • How will we know if they have learned it?
  • What will we do if they haven’t learned it?


Some design models that help promote learning and the retention and application of information include the:

A General Design Model

ADDIE can be used to guide the design of online, blended, and web-enhanced instruction. While we use the ADDIE model as step-by-step process to help you plan a course, application of ADDIE’s design phases apply equally well to units, lessons, and modules.

The ADDIE Model:


Analyze: Define the needs and constraints.
Design: Specify learning activities and evaluation strategies. Choose instructional methods and media components.
Develop: Produce, evaluate, and revise.
Implement: Put your plan into action.
Evaluate: Assess from all levels.


This is the part of the development process allows you to closely examine both the project and the audience (the students). Fink (2008) recommends assessing the following six areas during this process:

1. Specific context of the teaching / learning situation

  • How many students do you anticipate will be in the course?
  • Where in the program does this course fit? For example, is it the first semester of a two year diploma or part of the third year in an applied degree?
  • What type of delivery will be used? Online, blended, web-enhanced, face-to-face?

2. General Context of the Learning Situation

  • What learning expectations does your institution and/or program place on this course?
  • Also consider guidance from your Advisory Committee, trends in the profession, and other factors that may influence the learning situation.

3. Nature of the Subject

  • Is the course content primarily theory based or practical/ applied or a combination?
  • What opportunities are there for active learning?

4. Characteristics of the Learners

  • How old are the typical students?
  • Do they have part-time or full-time jobs? Families/dependants?
  • What prior knowledge do students typically have?
  • What are their attitudes or feelings about the subject?
  • What do you think their preferred learning styles are?
  • What do you suppose the comfort level with technology is? Are they computer literate?

5. Characteristics of the Teacher

  • What experience does the instructor have with this type of delivery?
  • What is his/ her background related to the course subject?
  • What are his/ her strengths in teaching?
  • How comfortable is the instructor in the learning environment?

6. Learning Goals

  • What would I like the impact of this course to be on students?
  • What would distinguish this course from other courses students have taken?
  • Consider where there student will be in the long-term in regards to the goals.
  • What significant learning experiences could be included in this course?


Once your analysis of the situational factors is complete, it is time to move in the design phase of the ADDIE model. One of the first tasks in the Design phase is to develop a flow chart.

Preparing a flow chart of your course is a useful exercise as it helps you think through the important aspects of your course. If you currently use a course map or schedule, you may have this partially done already. You can develop it in any format you choose. Some people prefer to develop outlines, while others prefer something more visual like a mind map, as shown in the following example:

{rokbox title=|Mind Map| text=|| size=|1013 498|}images/flowchart.png{/rokbox}

When creating the flow chart, make sure to consider the following components in your flow chart:

  • course outcomes
  • modules/major topics module outcomes
  • content
  • learning activities (‘Check Your Knowledge’ or ‘Self-Check’)
  • media to enhance content
  • formative assessment activities (quizzes, papers, discussions, presentations)
  • summative assessments (essays, exams, projects)

To learn more about flow charts see the articles “Outlining Your Course” or “Mapping Out Your Course.”


Once you have completed the analysis and design phases of your course, you will have a basic plan in place to develop course content. Carrying out your plan is the next step.

Online courses are usually developed with the assistance of a team; media specialists, course formatters, editors, subject matter experts, and instructional designers work all work together throughout in this process.

  • If you are developing a short activity for a web-enhanced course, you may want to explore “Cutting Edge” and “Selecting Tools” for further information.


In the ADDIE model, implementation is the phase where instruction is delivered. In a college, much of the implementation phase is taken for granted. For instance, as an instructor you often don’t need to worry about registration of students, instructor selection, delivery timelines, course costs, delivery location, etc.

As an online or blended instructor, questions to consider in this phase may include:

  • Is anyone assisting with the delivery of instruction?
  • Is the instructor information resource sufficient, or should I talk to the design team for more information on how the course, course content, and learning objects are best used?
  • Do my students have questions about how the course is meant to flow and operate?
  • Have I verified that my students have the resources necessary to complete this course?
  • Are there established procedures and virtual office hours for student questions? Do they know how to contact me? Do they know which tools to use to contact me (email, discussion forum, phone, instant messaging)?
  • Have I thought about what to do if a student is falling behind in their work?
  • As an instructor, am I aware of the instructional supports my institution has for online and blended delivery?


The final phase in the ADDIE model is an evaluation of the instruction being delivered. It is easy to think this just includes a final exam; however, the evaluation phase is broader than this.

Instructors naturally ask themselves the following questions:

  • Did students do well or poorly on their exams and tests? Why, and which sections were difficult or easy?
  • Did my students enjoy the course and engage in the content? Which areas would I change if I delivered this course again?
  • Did students struggle to comprehend any assignments or activities? Was it the wording of the instructions or the assignment itself? What could I do to change this?

Deeper questions for the evaluation of online courses may involve investigating the proper balance between social presence, teaching presence, and cognitive presence. Assessing whether students were engaged and could express themselves during discussions or whether instructors make their presence felt are some questions to reflect on.


Fink, L. D. (2003). Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses. Wiley, John & Sons.

Fink, L. D. (2004). A self-directed guide to designing courses for significant learning. Retrieved September 22, 2008, from

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