1.  Consider well-known instructional design models.

Popularly called ISD, Instructional Systems Design covers various methodologies for designing and delivering learning content. The following principles and popular design models, among several others, may come in handy as you begin to organize your content.

  1. Bloom’s Taxonomy
  2. Gagné’s 9 Events of Instruction
  3. ADDIE
  4. Successive Approximation Model (SAM)
  5. Merrill’s First Principles of Instruction
  6. Action Mapping

Refer to Cognella’s Quick Guide: Instructional Design for an additional review of instructional design methods.


2. Create a detailed online course outline.

Like a table of contents in a traditional text, this outline will provide a roadmap of the order of themes and lessons you plan to cover. A structured outline can act as a checklist throughout the development of your course materials:

  • Review the major milestones your students must reach in order to achieve and show competency in the subject matter for each chapter or module.
  • Make sure to design activities that help students to assess their own proficiency in these skills.


3. Structure your modules.

Utilize standard chapter features found in academic texts, as well as features unique to online learning.

  • Introduction to the chapter or module
  • Objectives and/or outcomes
  • Main body of instructional content (achieved through a combination of learning activities and resources)
  • Assessments and assignments
  • Conclusion, summary, or list of key chapter or module takeaways