Information Technology Services > Training and Workshops > Course Development and Instructional Design


ITS 101: Course Development and Instructional Design

Instructional Design

The Center for Teaching Excellence is a faculty resource to assist in the development of instructional materials to be used in New River courses. As we assist instructors in creating online instructional materials we adhere to proven instructional design concepts (like the ADDIE model - more info). The following graphic separates the ADDIE model's 6 stages into three distinct course development phases:

Production Phases

1. Pre-Production (Analysis and Design)

Through a collaborative approach of working directly with instructors, we plan and develop instructional computer-based presentations, interactive software, and demonstrations that will contribute to solving instructional problems. We provide consultation with designing effective online instructional materials, assistance with brainstorming instructional projects (based on instructional objectives), guidance for establishing project timelines, and consultation with formatting information for online delivery. The brainstorming process results in a concept map or content outline to depict key instructional information.

Additionally, we offer streaming media and database services connected to instructional projects as well as access to and training for the New River course management system, Blackboard Learn 9.1. In the pre-production phase of course development we focus specifically on ANAYLSIS and DESIGN of the instructional problems and materials to address them. Faculty are encouraged to work collaboratively with David Ayersman to simplify the development of instructional materials and facilitate the instructional delivery associated with the content materials. Not all materials need to be created. We highly encourage you to gather materials from all credible sources for inclusion in your course. We can work with you to develop an understanding of Fair Use and copyright restrictions that may apply to your "found" content. The following graphic depicts an overview of the course development process:

Course Development Process

Through this collaborative approach, assistance is provided with developing a content outline or concept map and then converting this document into a storyboard (what is a storyboard?) enhanced with multimedia elements (text, graphics, animations, audio, and video) that are connected via pedagogically sound navigational features and rich with learning activities. The artifacts of the Pre-Production phase include concept maps and/or a content outline and possibly a storyboard that adds multimedia elements as well as a sequence or timeline.


2. Production (Development and Implementation)

Building directly on the content outline, storyboard, and other pre-production efforts, we create and assemble course materials to reflect the overall sequence and design chosen for the course. Essentially, we put all the assembled course materials into a consistent format and then sequence them in a logical order conducive to learning. To do this in Blackboard requires familarity with the course tools to create and sequence the course content (this information is covered in the IT 104: Teaching with Blackboard) workshop. In the production phase of course development we focus on DEVELOPMENT and IMPLEMENTATION . Identifying all the course materials, gathering them, creating them, organizing them and preparing them for delivery are the tasks completed during this phase. Artifacts of the Production phase include a first draft of the course content, assignments, assessments, and of course the syllabus.


3. Post-Production (Evaluation)

As you teach a course for the first time (or immediately after), it is quite common to identify changes that you want to make before teaching it again. Typically, the instructor/designer pays careful attention to student feedback regarding sequence of the information, the nature of the assessments, and the responses to the assignments. It is not uncommon to make a number of course revisions following the first offering of the course, particularly for an online or IVN course.

Understanding the built-in assessment tools of Blackboard Learn as well as other assessment techniques can help to identify areas of the course to improve prior to the next offering. In the post-production phase of course development we focus specfically on EVALUATION (and revision which starts the cycle over again). Artifacts of this stage include student feedback, instructor feedback, completed assignments, assessments, and the overall course revisions made by the instructor/designer.


How to Write Effective Learning Objectives

Effective learning objectives have three key elements. You must include a (1) behavior, (2) condition, and (3) standard. If you do a google search for "how to write a learning objective" you'll find lots of resources. Here are a few sites with additional information:

As you write learning objectives you should strive to address higher levels of cognition as students acquire mastery of a topic. Bloom's Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain identifies 6 levels of cognition and here is a table that lists them with verbs you may use as you write learning objectives for each level of the taxonomy:

Bloom's Cognitive Taxonomy
Knowledge arrange, define, duplicate, label, list, memorize, name, order, recognize, relate, recall, repeat, reproduce, state
Comprehension classify, describe, discuss, explain, express, identify, indicate, locate, recognize, report, restate, review, select, translate
Application apply, choose, demonstrate, dramatize, employ, illustrate, interpret, operate, practice, schedule, sketch, solve, use, write
Analysis analyze, appraise, calculate, categorize, compare, contrast, criticize, differentiate, discriminate, distinguish, examine, experiment, question, test
Synthesis arrange, assemble, collect, compose, construct, create, design, develop, formulate, manage, organize, plan, prepare, propose, set up, write
Evaluation appraise, argue, assess, attach, choose, compare, defend, estimate, judge, predict, rate, score, select, support, value, evaluate

Recently some changes have been suggested for Bloom's Taxonomy and these changes can be understood by reviewing this information. Jacob C. Herman provides a more detailed overview of Bloom's taxonomy.



For maximum effectiveness, you should use both formative and summative assessments as well as a variety of assessment types. Formative assessment occurs frequently while summative assessments typically occur at the end of the semester or course. Combining these types of assessment works best and since we know that learners have various attributes (styles, preferences, characteristics) we should consider multiple approaches for assessments. Some learners excel at written exams with multiple choice questions while others excel at developing a project and providing an oral presentation to the class describing it. Effective assessments occur frequently and offer a variety of approaches for students. Classroom Assessment Techniques are excellent methods for addressing your assessment needs. And I've created a reference table for how New River technologies can address various learning styles (Learning Styles and Communication).



There are many acceptable approaches to creating a syllabus but one common attribute among effective versions is that they include all the information relevant to the course that students need to be successful learners.

New River (Renae McGinnis) has created a syllabus template to "jumpstart" the process with instructors and to guide them into including all the necessary information. While this example doesn't fully comply with the template, it is in my own opinion also a moderately effective example (syllabus example). We have much variation among the course syllabi that are used at New River and we are working to reduce that variation. Some I've seen comprise only a page or two and provide very little information regarding expectations for students. Others are quite detailed, address all the components of the example in our template, and serve as exemplars.


Evaluation and Revisions

Even if you teach the same course every semester, it is common (and highly desirable) to continually refine the course. While learning objectives might remain relatively stable, the learning activities might change as you discover better ones. Assessments might be improved using item analysis techniques for your exams to identify questions that are poorly worded or confusing for students, as well as those questions which fail to challenge them. These revisions are an on-going process. At the end of a term instructors typically reflect on what went well and what didn't go quite so well to identify the areas of the course that might be revised. To gain critical perspective, review this information from the SUNY Learning Network:

Seven Principles of Effective Teaching: A Practical Lens for Evaluating Online Courses

10 Tips for Distance Learning Instructors

Student Engagement in the Online Classroom

Looking Ahead: Course Materials for Distance Education (and the criteria we will use to evaluate your course)



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Email: | Phone: 304-929-6725 | 280 University Drive, Beaver, WV 25813-8987 | Updated: August 5, 2022