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Ten Advanced Instructional Design Tips — Is Your Favorite Here?

Most faculty are well-versed in the basics of instructional design. The Instructional Design 101 question — What knowledge, skills and attitudes will your students develop over a three-credit course of approximately 135 hours of effort?— has been widely disseminated.

Now is a good time to put a little spark in your instructional design skills with some advanced instructional design tips. These are tips inspired by meditations on the writings of Russian–born philosopher Lev Vygotsky, the timeless writings of John Dewey, and results from recent learning and brain research. One of these tips might be your favorite!

1. Envision your course as a series of instructional events. The success of each of these events depends on the input and interaction of the four basic elements of a teaching and learning experience. These four elements are easily remembered with the acronym, LEMKE — the learner (Le), the faculty member or mentor (M), the knowledge or content to be acquired (K) and the environment (E). Use LEMKE as a checklist to review your teaching and learning plans!

2. Envision the role of the faculty member as the “director” of the learning experience. The director determines the structure and most of the objectives for the event, but may be explicitly present at a small percentage (20%?) of the events.

3. Envision how the learner is interacting with the content. What is going on inside the learner’s head, while the learner is reading, writing, discussing, listening, presenting?

4. Envision the context and the environment in which the learner is learning. Where is the learner doing the work and experiencing the joy of learning? With what tools, resources, and with whom is the learner doing the learning? Is the learner working individually or with a group, face-to-face or using remote “you are there” technologies?

5. Identify three levels of course knowledge, skills and attitudes: core knowledge, useful knowledge, and customized/advanced knowledge, including challenging unsolved problems.

6. Provide a rich set of resources to accommodate customized and advanced learning. Enlist learners in finding, recommending and assisting in developing a rich database of learning resources.

7. Design the communication flow and pattern for the course that is a network of communications between faculty and students, and so the faculty member is not the hub of the communication flow.

8. Design for a balance of the three dialogues — faculty to student dialogue; student to student dialogue and student to resource dialogue — and a balance of synchronous-asynchronous activities.

9. Design assessment concurrently with the design of learning events.

10. Estimate the amount of time required for students to learn the core knowledge so that students can balance life and learning. However, devise challenging problems, because all things being more or less equal, the more time students are interacting with the content the more useful knowledge they develop.

If you’d like to add your favorite, please send a note to

Judith V. Boettcher, Author and consultant. Designing for Learning, and the University of Florida:

Judith is the coauthor of the second edition of The Faculty Guide for Moving Teaching and Learning to the Web, available from the League for Innovation in November, 2004.

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