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I recently took a Coursera course about the basics of instructional design. I thought I’d share some of what I learned. Specifically, the ADDIE Model is used to design and evaluate a course. There are five steps, hence A-D-D-I-E, to discuss. If you want a more in-depth discussion about designing a college course, check out my Successful Start series.


Video Version


The first step is to analyze the situation that you are in. What basic information do you have about your students? Are they all majors? Freshman? Non-traditional? A mix of various academic demographics? Etc.

Then, analyze what you see as the learning outcomes of the course. Or, analyze what learning outcomes you are required to teach by the university or department. Is there a priority for some outcomes? Will some outcomes take much longer to achieve than others?

Finally, analyze the physical or digital situation of the course. Is there something unusual about the physical classroom? How are the desks/tables set up? Is it online and asynchronous? Get a sense of how the environment might affect your course.


Having analyzed the situation, start designing your course with all this situational knowledge in mind. I recommend brainstorming ideas for course themes, projects, activities, and required materials first. Once you decide which of those ideas to move forward with, you can then start designing the overall semester structure, the major projects, and at least a few small activity templates. Consider, what will work best for your courses and what needs to happen in order for your students to succeed?


Once a design has been figured out, it’s time to develop the course materials. A syllabus, course schedule, major assignment sheets, and small activities for at least the first week or two of the semester are all essential to have ready-to-go before the semester begins. So, find free materials online via OER. Create your own materials. Do what you need to do to start developing the course.


The course has begun, so it’s time to start implementing the things that you have developed. Give your students the syllabus, discuss the course schedule, start assigning and grading work and giving lectures. This step takes place throughout the whole semester. And to some extent, the design and develop steps happen in small batches at this time, as well, as it’s unlikely that you created a whole semester of materials before the semester even began.


While you can evaluate how the course design worked for students via a final course evaluation, don’t wait so long to get feedback. Every few weeks, check in with students. Evaluate what’s working and what’s not working about your design, materials, and implementation. Make changes as necessary. Work to improve as the semester progresses. A Midterm Chat is fantastic for this step.

Final Thoughts

I hope this breakdown is helpful. If you want more course design tips or activity ideas, check out the rest of this blog and my YouTube Channel. Creating a college course from scratch is incredibly time-consuming, so make sure to pace yourself and ask for help when necessary. Like I mentioned above, OER (Open Educational Resources) materials are easy to find and easy to use. Here’s a recorded livestream where I explore different OER websites. If you’d like me to write more about what I learned in the instructional design course, let me know in the comments.

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Using the ADDIE Model to Design Courses