Module 3 – Design and development phases


Module 2 introduced the first phase of the instructional design process. In this module, we will look at the design and development of the learning and teaching environment.

ADDIE model

Learning outcomes

On completion of this module, you should be able to:

  • demonstrate understanding of the principles and procedures of the sequencing and synthesis of content;
  • demonstrate understanding of the selection of instructional strategies, media, the assessment of learning outcomes and appropriate feedback strategies; and
  • discuss the process of design and development as it relates to teaching and learning situations, the literature, and your own contexts and experiences.

Introduction to design and development

In Module 2 you considered how you might proceed with analysing your content. We will now consider the sequencing of content, media selection, deciding on what learning strategies to use, how learning outcomes will be assessed and feedback provided – the ‘design and development’ phases of our framework. In addition we will also ask you to consider the topic of assessment (both formative and summative) and the provision of feedback to learners. The Design and Development phase of the ADDIE model is presented in the following diagram.

Analysis phase

Key tasks and considerations in the design and development phase of instructional/learning design are elaborated in the following sections of this module.

Design and development: Theoretical perspectives

Recall the related section of Table 1.1 from Module 1.

Excerpt from Table 1.1: Learning Design Phases with Objectivist and Constructivist Design Activities (Reiser & Dempsey, 2002, p. 76)
Instructional design phases Objectivist design activities Constructivist design activities
Design Instructional objectives Learning goals
  Task analysis Identify learning sequences (group and/or individual)
  Criterion-referenced assessment Context-driven evaluation
Development Develop instructional materials Construct learning resources/artifacts

Consider the constructivist and objectivist perspectives as you move through this part of the course, remembering that the purpose of this course to not to impose a single perspective. Jonassen (1998) makes the point that:

While objectivism and constructivism are usually conveyed as incompatible and mutually exclusive, that is not the assumption [he is making]. Rather, I believe that objectivism and constructivism offer different perspectives on the learning process from which we can make inferences about how we ought to engender learning. The goal of my writing and teaching is not to reject or replace objectivism. To impose a single belief or perspective is decidedly non-constructivistic. Rather, I prefer to think of them as complementary (some of the best environments use combinations of methods) design tools to be applied in different contexts. (Jonassen, 1998, p. 1)

Jonassen believes that constructivism (with its attendant principles related to learner-centredness, situated learning and collaborative learning) is more appropriately utilised within particular education and training contexts. Such contexts are those that target adult learners who are predisposed to engage in reflective and experiential processes. That is consistent with the positioin espoused by Anderson and Dron (2011; 2012) about the complementarity among different generations of pedagogies in distance education.

In the context of flexible learning and online learning environments, alternative models of design and development such as Laurillard's conversational framework (2002) and the proposed theory of mobile learning (Sharples et al., 2005) are being used to inform design and development decisions of learning and instructional designers.

Reading & discussion

  1. Although it is convenient to consider 'big picture' differences such as those between objectivist and constructivist perspectives, each of those has multiple nuanced variations and there are other theoretical perspectives that may be adopted. and Instructional Design sites offer summaries of a variety of theories and models relevant to education. Visit the sites, explore some theories, and consider which might be most relevant for your work.
  2. Using Google Scholar and other academic sources, such as the USQ Library databases and consulting with your colleagues and professional networks, explore the learning design literature relevant to your own teaching and learning context, and identify the theories and models that are applied by learning designers to the design and development of courses and programs in your context.
  3. Which theory/ies and model/s most resonate with your own thinking in relation to the design and development decisions you will need to make for your learning design project? Share your thoughts with your peers in the Module 3 forum on StudyDesk.

Sequencing content

This phase in the instructional design process has to do with the procedures for developing and sequencing the actual content to be learned and supporting activities. The decision about how to organise the content or skills to be learned in a course requires a great deal of planning. This may include determining instructional goals, learning outcomes and their assessment, chunking or clustering and sequencing of content topics, timing, and application of instructional strategies. Sequencing and synthesising of content has to do with decisions about how we organise what needs to be learned. The choice of your approach to sequencing and synthesising content is a complex process which must take into account not only the nature of the content, but your learners and your own philosophical approach to learning and teaching.

Organising content allows the designer to see the depth and breadth of the content to be covered, while organising instructional activities allows him or her to see the range of methods used to facilitate the learning. The word “curriculum” is used to refer to the organisation of a course of study. In K-12 settings, people often think in terms of curricula, units and lesson plans. In industry and higher education settings, people think in terms of programs of study, units or courses, “sessions” and “classes” - whether they be conducted face-to-face or at a distance/online or a combination of these modes. In these contexts, it is common to refer to “scoping and sequencing of content”. Scope and sequence of content refers to the amount of content (scope) and the order in which the content will be organised (sequence). Regardless of how one approaches instructional design, some scope and sequence decisions must be made.

There are many guidelines for organising content including Reigeluth’s Elaboration Theory, the Algo-Heuristic Theory, and Merrill's Component Display Theory, all of which are firmly located in the paradigm of Instructional Systems Design.


The website provides a brief summary of Reigeluth's approach to sequencing content. The second reading presents his more recent perspectives on what he refers to as “the new paradigm of post-industrial education” (2012, p. 1).

See Elaboration Theory.

Reigeluth, C. (2012). Instructional theory and technology for the new paradigm of education. Revista de Educación a Distancia, 32. Retrieved from

What implications do you see in Reigeluth's ideas for your work as a designer? Share and discuss in the Module 3 forum.

Information mapping

Information mapping is another strategy for organising and presenting instructional content developed by Robert Horn in the USA. The process comprises presenting content in ordered blocks with marginal labels. The strategy draws on the work of a large number of perspectives on learning and instruction including the works or Gagné, Piaget, Lumsdaine, Skinner, Ausubel and Glaser.

Information mapping as a strategy may be better suited to the production of documentation especially in areas where large amounts of information are presented in manuals and guides. Some of the most obvious uses of the strategy are referencing material, procedures, books, technical handbooks, sales referencing, and training materials.


Read the article on Information Mapping by Robert Horn.

What applications can you see for information mapping in your work?

Key Design Consideration:

At this point, you need to be thinking about how the content and activities of your project will be organised. It is time to start concept mapping and mind mapping or other processes for planning.

Selecting media

The role of media in learning has been debated, perhaps most famously in the exchange between Clark (1994) and Kozma (1994). Clark argued that the medium for delivering instruction should be considered as analogous to a delivery van and should make no difference to the learning that would result from delivering the same content in a different format. Kozma argued that particular media possess attributes that offer benefits for specific learning. In some ways the debate is irresolvable because the introduction of a new medium is often accompanied by a different design and it is difficult, if not impossible, to separate the effects of medium and design.

There are theories about how media, especially multimedia, affect learning. They include cognitive theory of multimedia learning and dual coding theory. Limitations on human capacity to handle increased cognitive load come into consideration when designing for media in learning. If your design will include media then you will need to be familiar with these ideas and apply them in your planning.

Dick, Carey and Carey (2001, p. 242) discuss the limitations imposed by the context that the designer may be working within. They point out that ‘our choices of best practice will run into a reality check’ as a natural part of the materials development process. They outline three factors that often cause compromise in media selection and the delivery system:

  • availability of existing instructional materials;
  • production and implementation constraints; and
  • the amount of facilitation that the instructor will provide during instruction.


These readings present contemporary perspectives on the use of instructional media to support learning.

Centre for Applied Special Technology (CAST) (2013). What is universal design for learning.

University of Leicester. (nd). The 7Cs of Learning Design Toolkit.

What lessons can you take for your project from these sites? Share and discuss in the Module 3 forum.

Key Design and Development Consideration:

What media will you use to support the design, development, delivery and/or implementation of your program? What is your rationale for your choice of media?

Learning and teaching strategies

Some assumptions that affect all teaching/learning approaches regardless of level or context include:

  • Teaching and learning draw on a range of teaching approaches, frameworks and theories. The presence of diversity in framing teaching and learning requires the adoption of pluralistic perspectives about teaching and learning. No one approach, theory or framework fits all teaching-learning situations or contexts.
  • Teaching/learning in different content areas draws upon different methods and approaches derived from a consideration of content structures. For example, those who work in the sciences draw upon “scientific method” as a “way of doing science” and this is often referred to as content as process that needs to be taught not caught. This is just as important as teaching the substantive elements (e.g., scientific concepts such as force and energy in Physics). Those who work in the area of history adopt a different “way of doing history", that is, using primary and secondary data sources to interpret historical events and change. The substantive elements of history (dates, events, etc.) need to be accompanied by some focus on process or syntax.
  • Time is a critical variable in the design of effective teaching/learning episodes. However, its importance is often overshadowed by administrative considerations. Teaching/learning episodes that are subject to tight time constraints are unlikely to maximise learning outcomes. Teaching/learning episodes that are flexible in the extreme will be chaotic and difficult to manage. Achieving a balance between freedom and control is a perennial problem.
  • Prior teaching/learning experiences pre-empt the nature of teaching and learning for learners at all levels. The socialising influence of schools is a powerful force in defining expectations of teaching and learning.

Laurillard (2002) observes that teaching (particularly in academic contexts) is a rhetorical activity: it is mediated learning, allowing students to acquire knowledge of someone else’s way of experiencing the world. The more abstract the knowledge with which we are dealing, the more difficult it is to provide “authentic” learning experiences.

These assumptions can still be applied to most teaching-learning contexts although it is becoming evident that “flexible learning” models are challenging these assumptions. For example, the influence of time as a controlling variable is being challenged by the adoption of flexible learning approaches. This can come at a cost, in terms of what we as educators might regard as acceptable educational principles and practices.

Whether it is at the school level or the tertiary level, over the last few years there have been several key influences that have provided the backdrop for significant changes in the way education is being designed and delivered. For example, the “access and equity” influence embraced by governments in Australia and overseas has resulted in shifts from elitism to mass education, particularly at the post-secondary level, although in many developing countries this would also apply to primary and secondary levels. This particular pressure or influence has been the catalyst for new approaches such as distance education, open learning and open schooling, all of which challenge the traditional models of teaching and learning.

Teaching and learning strategies can include:

  • content presentation strategies. These include advance and graphic organisers, instructional objectives and illustrations.
  • activation strategies. These include student participation, reading and study skills training, inserted or in-text questioning and ungraded activities. These are strategies that are provided by the teacher to help initiate and sustain learning activity.
  • socialisation strategies. These include cooperative learning and peer group activities that can occur within tutorials, and discussion forums.


One widely known approach to online learning strategies is the five-stage model originated by Gilly Salmon. Visit her site and familiarise yourself with her model.

Moule (2007) explores some potential issues with the five-stage model and proposes an alternative:

Moule, P. (2007). Challenging the five-stage model for e-elarning: a new approach. Research in Learning Technology, 15(1), 37-50. Retrieved from

Salmon (2007) responded in the following issue of the journal:

Salmon, G. (2007). The tipping point. Research in Learning Technology, 15(2), 171-172. Retrieved from

  • How do you see the relevance of either or both of these models for your own work as a designer?
  • Moule (2007) seems to suggest a hierarchy or progresion from instructivist to constructivist approaches? How does the more recent thinking from Anderson and Dron (2011; 2012) affect your interpretation of Moule's ladder?

Share your responses and discuss in the Module 3 forum.

Key Design Consideration:

What instructional strategies and learning activities will you use in your design? What is your rationale for your choice of these strategies and activities?

Assessment Strategies

Garrison (1993) points out, “If the goal of distance education is to facilitate learners in their construction of meaning, then methods, materials and evaluation must be congruent with that goal” (p. 208). (Please note that Garrison's use of the term “evaluation” here follows the American convention and refers to assessment of learners). It is of no use to have the most elaborate technologies to facilitate sophisticated interactions between teachers and students if there is no alignment between construction of meaning (content), methods, resources and assessment. Biggs (2001) provides a “big picture” view and discusses the process of “constructive alignment” (aligning content with objectives with strategies with assessment) and the relationship to quality assurance.

When designing assessment for flexible programs, a number of key issues emerge:

  • How does one provide “authentic experiences” in flexible settings when assessment demands that the behaviours being tested should be demonstrated in real life situations?
  • How should we assess situations that demand that “successful” student performance be measured in real-life situations? In a higher education context, some discipline areas make more demands in this respect than others – Nursing, Teaching, Engineering.
    Are the costs of conducting quality assessment flexibly prohibitive?
  • How do we implement assessment for learning in combination with assessment of learning?
  • How can accurate, honest and helpful feedback be given to students enrolled in flexible programs whose knowledge and understanding may need correcting?

Activity 3.1

In your view, what are the main considerations that educators should take into account when they are designing assessment for flexible learning?
Think about the assessment practices and approaches you facilitate in your learning and teaching context.

  • What are the issues of greatest concern for you?
  • What strategies have you in place to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of your assessment efforts?
  • What assessment challenges do you anticipate in the future and how might you respond to these challenges?

Post your thoughts to the Module 3 forum.

Consider David Boud's perspective on assessment in the following article:

Boud, D. (2000). Sustainable Assessment: Rethinking assessment for the learning society. Studies in Continuing Education, 22(2), 151-167.

Some considerations for design of assessment

When learning is assessed learners are naturally interested in what will be required for them to succeed and some of them will focus more on the assessment than any other part of the learning experience. Skillful design of assessment in alignment with objectives and strategies can do much to promote the learning for which the design is intended. Assessment is multifaceted and there are several aspects that should be considered in its design.

Target audience

Learners in flexible contexts usually have a wide range of experiences, interests, motivation, and abilities that they bring to the learning situation. For example, school students who are taught via flexible modes can be quite different from students who have ready access to face-to-face learning situations. Many higher education students are working in situations that may be related to their area of study. These situations can provide a rich background in which to set assessment activities or to provide support. Flexible learners also usually have a more flexible timetable for study and the associated assessment activities. They may prefer small sections of work that they can complete in a short period of time and therefore fit into their lifestyle. It is important that the information provided to students about assessment is explicit to avoid confusion that may occur through misinterpretation.

Assessment tasks

If a course of study is being offered in different modes, for example face-to-face, by distance and/or online, it may be necessary to consider the possible effects of assessing using different methods according to mode. Should the designer concentrate on achieving the same outcomes or giving exactly the same assessment task? On the one hand some may argue that assessment must be identical to be fair but, on the other, the same outcomes may be achieved and demonstrated in different ways or at different times. Some flexibility in the timing of assessment and/or the form of presentation may be possible.

It may be appropriate to offer some flexibility in assessment tasks. Students may be able to demonstrate learning outcomes by completing projects with real value in their workplaces. In some cases it may be appropriate to offer complete or partial exemption from some tasks based on recognition of prior experience and performance. Such arrangements can present challenges for alignment with learning outcomes and presentation of evidence but are worth considering as ways to meet students' needs more flexibly.

Delivery mode

Often assessment needs to be planned well ahead. The assessment requirements need to be clear and precise to avoid ambiguity of interpretation; this includes information about the content, procedures, accepted format, samples of work, due dates, methods of submission, extension policies, etc. Assessment items, which call for group work or the need to discuss with other students, take a great deal of thought and organization. With the greater use of electronic communication, including electronic mail and discussion groups, the opportunities for students to communicate has been enhanced, providing for a wide variety of collaborative tasks to be set if desired.


Skeptics about flexible learning conducted at a distance or online frequently cite plagiarism or cheating to be real concerns with assessment. Without face-to-face supervision, there cannot be total security in terms of work and assessment authenticity but perhaps the learning and assessment strategy has more influence on integrity and authenticity than any particular mode of delivery.

Discenza, Howard and Schenk (2002) argue that where educational courses, particularly learner-centred environments, incorporate assessments that require open ended and critical thinking, cheating is of little consequence. Cheating and plagiarism are not restricted to any particular mode of education. There is much advice about cheating but perhaps the best approach may be through moving the emphasis away from assessment and towards learning. This perspective suggests that greater value and concentration be placed on the “learning journey” rather than the terminal assessment with greater value being invested in the learning process and engagement of learners rather than in a potentially inaccurate summary or judgement of apparent learning or an individual's capacity.

Activity 3.2

Consider your own teaching and learning context and in particular assessment procedures and strategies.

  • Is or could cheating be an issue?
  • What strategies or approaches could you or your organisation take to minimise any cheating or plagiarism?

Share and discuss in the Module 3 forum.

Assessing learning outcomes

The key purpose for assessing learning outcomes is to determine the extent to which learners have achieved the intended learning outcomes. Other functions may include:

  • diagnosis of pre-requisite skills and knowledge;
  • ensuring that learners are ready to move on to the next stage; and
  • serving as an overview of the content and skills that must be acquired.

Assessment of learning outcomes requires learners to complete tasks that demonstrate that they have achieved the learning outcomes. For the most valid assessment of performance these tasks should be as authentic as possible.

Assessment can be classified as norm referenced or criterion referenced. A norm referenced test compares a learner's performance with that of other learners. A criterion referenced test is based on the criteria specified in the learning outcome.

As Morgan and O’Reilly (1999) suggest,

…it would be difficult to argue for the place of norm referenced assessment in [online] contexts, as it is very much the antithesis of open and student-centred learning. Rather it speaks to antiquated notions of academic rigour and institutional standards, and says very little about the nature and quality of teaching and learning, or the abilities of graduating learners (p. 9).

However, the adoption of criterion referenced approaches in flexible settings poses particular problems. Not the least of these is how to “go about” assessing “higher intellectual skills and abilities”. To determine whether learners have acquired skills of analysis and synthesis is difficult enough in traditional teaching and learning settings, let alone flexible settings.


Student-centred learning brings increased responsibility of the learner for their own learning, making development of capacity for self-assessment desirable, especially when there is an epectation of ongoing independent professional learning. Discenza, Howard and Schenk (2002) suggest that portfolio construction provides a means by which professional reflection can be supported as a component of self-assessment. Portfolios may also represent a method for gathering data for the purpose of competency judgement or appraisal. The portfolio approach appears to be particularly popular where formative data needs to be collected as evidence of achievement. Such instances may be commonly encountered in relation to workplace training or assessment.

Peer assessment

Discenza, Howard and Schenk (2002) assert that peer assessment is a critical component in developing capacity for life long learning. Crowe and Pemberton (2002) cite more pragmatic benefits in arguing that peer assessment can “promote students' confidence in their ability to assess the work of others and provides the opportunity to develop skills for working in a team”. Further, their research and experience has shown that there are positives about being assessed by peers and they argue that having the opportunity to work with others is beneficial to assessing one's own personal capacity. However, it is important that the facilitator or manager of assessment carefully considers issues of implementation.

Use of feedback

Based ona review of relevant research, Kulhavy (1977) described four conditions for effective feedback:

  • that feedback corrects errors;
  • that the error-correcting action of feedback is more effective when it follows a response about which the student felt relatively certain;
  • that the effectiveness of feedback is enhanced if it is delivered after the learner has made a response; and
  • if feedback is to be effective, its availability in advance of learner response must be controlled.

Feedback may differ in several ways.

First, feedback may differ according to its intention. This refers to whether the feedback was designed to inform learners about the quality and accuracy of their responses, or it happened to be an incidental consequence of the instructional environment.

Second, feedback differs according to its target. Some feedback is primarily designed to influence affective learning capacities such as support for intrinsic motivation. Feedback may also be intended to support self-regulated learning activity. Most commonly, feedback aims to indicate whether learners are performing the specified tasks or applying the learned concepts and procedures correctly.

Third, feedback is also distinguishable according to its content, which is identifiable by:

  • load (i.e., the amount of information given in the feedback from yes-no statements to fuller explanations);
  • form (i.e., the structural similarity between information in the feedback compared to that in the instructional presentation); and
  • type of information (i.e., whether the feedback restated information from the original task, referred to information given elsewhere in the instruction, or provided new information).

Generally, a flexible learning environment enables an immediacy of feedback that enhances the learning experience.


Anderson, T., & Dron, J. (2011). Three generations of distance education pedagogy. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(3), 80-97. Retrieved from

Anderson, T., & Dron, J. (2012). Learning technology through three generations of technology enhanced distance education pedagogy. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, 2012(II).

Biggs, J. (2001). The reflective institution: Assuring and enhancing the quality of teaching and learning. Higher Education, 41(3), 221-238.

Boud, D. (2000). Sustainable Assessment: Rethinking assessment for the learning society. Studies in Continuing Education, 22(2), 151-167.

Clark, R. E. (1994). Media will never influence learning. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 21-29.

Crowe, C., & Pemberton, A. (2000). But that’s your job!: peer assessment in collaborative learning projects. Effective teaching at university. Brisbane: Duchesne College, The University of Queensland.

Dick, W., Carey, L., & Carey, J. (2001). The systematic design of instruction, (5th ed.). New York: Longman.

Discenza, R., Howard, C., & Schenk, K. (2002). The design and management of effective distance learning programs. Hershey, PA: Idea Group Publishing.

Garrison, D. (1993). A cognitive constructivist view of distance education: An analysis of teaching-learning assumptions. Distance Education, 4(2), 199–211.

Jonassen, D. (1998). Designing constructivist learning environments. In C.M. Reigeluth (Ed.), Instructional theories and models, (2nd ed.). Mahwah: Erlbaum.

Kozma, R. B. (1994). Will media influence learning? Reframing the debate. Educational Technology Research & Development, 42(2), 7-19.

Kulhavy, R. W. (1977). Feedback in written instruction. Review of Educational Research, 47, 211–32.

Laurillard, D. (2002). Rethinking university teaching – A conversational framework for the effective use of learning technologies. (2nd ed.). London: Routledge Falmer.

Morgan, C., & O’Reilly, M. (1999). Assessing open & distance learners. London: Kogan.

Moule, P. (2007). Challenging the five-stage model for e-elarning: a new approach. Research in Learning Technology, 15(1), 37-50. Retrieved from

Reigeluth, C. M. (1999). The Elaboration Theory: Guidance for scope and sequence decisions. In C.M. Reigeluth (Ed.), Instructional design theories and models: A new paradigm of instruction theory. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah.

Reigeluth, C. (2012). Instructional theory and technology for the new paradigm of education. Revista de Educación a Distancia, 32. Retrieved from

Reiser, R.A., & Dempsey, J.V. (2002). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology. NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall.

Salmon, G. (2007). The tipping point. Research in Learning Technology, 15(2), 171-172. Retrieved from

Sharples, M., Taylor, J., & Vavoula, G. (2005). Towards a theory of mobile learning. Proceedings of mLearn 2005. Capetown. Retrieved from