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Online Course Design Blueprint

Now that you are more familiar with some of the principles of learning and instructional design theories, you will translate some of them to an actual design. This assignment should build upon your Prospectus ideas. You will follow what is known in the field as “Backward Design” process (McTighe & Wiggins, 2012). In essence, this means designing the learning experience or technology by starting with the learning objectives and working backward through all the information, activities, assignments, tools, assessments, and other components of the learning experience.

An Instructional Design Blueprint (also sometimes called a Design Document) lets you communicate with any stakeholders (subject matter experts, web developers, teachers, facilitators, project managers, etc.) about the specific content, scaffolds, activities, assessments, tools, technical requirements, and interface/web design elements necessary to make the learning system/experience that you detailed in the Prospectus actually function. Please include the following in your Design Blueprint (feel free to create a table or chart to show alignment of objectives, readings, activities, assignments, assessments):

  • List the learning objectives you provided in your prospectus then list the learning modules and relevant tasks that need to be completed during this learning experience in order for learners to meet those learning objectives. (e.g. Learning Objective 1 is [________]. Students will meet this objective in Module 1: [Topic] with Activities [e.g. video, reading, discussion]. and Module 2: [Topic] with Activities [e.g. quiz, reading, project].
  • What content and activities will be incorporated in the instructional design? For each module’s activities, list titles of specific readings, videos, slides, assignments, activities, assessments, quizzes. It is okay if you do not have these fully written out or developed – that is something a subject matter expert usually does – but please at least list/title the content you intend to be incorporated in the experience. (e.g. Read articles titled A, B, C and then complete discussion about X, complete team project on Y, write a reflection on Z, etc.)
  • How long will each activity take? (list the estimated minutes, hours, days, etc. for each)
  • What type of interaction will each activity require: learner-content, learner-learner, learner-instructor?
  • How will the learning experience be scaffolded and organized: Will it be branched so learners can choose their own path or will it be linear/sequential? Provide an outline or schedule similar to what you would see in a lesson plan or syllabus.
  • What additional tools, software, or other resources are needed for the design to be implemented? a live video communication tool? learner roster/database? email system? a computer lab with wifi? a textbook or manual? an instructor/facilitator guide?

There are many examples of blueprint formats available on the web – just google “Instructional Design Document” or “Instructional Design Blueprint”.


McTighe, J., & Wiggins, G. (2012). Understanding by Design® framework. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

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