Backward Instructional Design Model

Instructional Design is a term that refers to systematically designed instruction with or without the use of educational technology. Instructional Design 101 is a four-part series description of “the process of assessing learning needs and applying the appropriate learning strategy to meet those needs.” The ADDIE (analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation) model is explained in detail. There are many other pedagogical models. For example, the Backward Model, summarized below is popular in blended and online course design.

When teachers plan out their course structure and curriculum (with or without the support of instructional designers,) teachers design their instruction blueprint. They may use concept mapping, storyboarding, or other techniques to scaffold and sequence lessons; they may utilize a learning management system (like Canvas/ECLearn) to plan out the delivery of learning experiences; they may use other academic technologies to provide nurturing environment for (personal and academic) educational growth and achievement.

Backward Instructional Design Model

To develop your course blueprint, start with the learning outcomes (knowledge, skills) or what students will gain upon successful completion of the course. Then determine acceptable evidence or how these outcomes will be assessed. 

Other key course components that define course learning experience are the course goals and objectives. Goals refer to the course description and outcomes. Objectives refer to the specific visible and measurable actions students perform to achieve learning goals. Defining instructional strategies or learning activities that students will do to successfully meet the course learning objectives are the answers to how you design instruction wrapped around the subject matter and how you assess learning.

Pedagogy should always lead technology, so it is important to determine what a course is about first and then find the appropriate media channels for development and implementation. Only after creating the context of the course, should you proceed with identifying educational technologies that support each instructional strategy. This means you need to align objectives,content, learning activities, and technologies in that order. Reasons for selection of instructional media should be transparent to students. The media should enhance the learning experience in a productive, not a distracting way.  Provide a rationale about the whole course setup and include course expectations to make it relevant to students’ personal educational goals. The course should also include a schedule  or timeline of learning activities to help students organize their learning better. This information should be present in the syllabus, because the syllabus is the course blueprint summary.

The following crossword puzzle is created to introduce a couple of new instructional design terms gaining more popularity nowadays as new pedagogical approaches and emerging technologies. Check for yourself to see where you stand in regard to what’s new in the higher ed field.

Check out the crossword puzzle at

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