After performing an effective analysis, it is important to design your unit of instruction. This means planning out how you will help your students (1) acquire the knowledge and skills you have identified in your analysis, (2) apply that knowledge in meaningful ways, and (3) receive feedback and guidance on their learning. In the design phase, you build on the analysis you have performed. It will guide your thinking and planning.
There are several steps that can be followed in the design phase. These include:
- Analyze the subject matter -You need to have a thorough grasp of the content that the student will be required to understand and use. This analysis usually means breaking the content down into appropriate chunks of information, identifying how these chunks should be taught based on what kind of content they are- knowledge, skills, attitude, real-world task, etc.
- Plan out instructional activities -Based on your analysis, you will need to plan out specifically how you will help your students to reach the goals and objectives you devised in your analysis. This includes creating all activities that will help your students acquire the knowledge they need, and practice applying it in meaningful ways. For help on this, see the section Evidence-based practice below.
- Storyboard instructional activities -An important step in designing your instruction is storyboarding. This means laying out the sequence of the instructional activities. This can be done in a Word document, in a powerpoint document, on a whiteboard, or on a wall. Some people storyboard in the actual medium they will be developing in, like a Learning Management System. Whatever you do, the point is to plan out a logical sequence of learning activities for the learner.
As you design your instruction, be sure to use evidence-based practice- in other words, use what works. But what works? What guidance does research and experience give? There are a few fundamental principles of instruction that should be used when teaching knowledge and skills. I have discussed these generally in a previous post on Merrill's First Principles of Instruction. In addition, Gagne's 9 Events of Instruction have empirical evidence supporting their use and are easily implemented.
It is easy to get caught up in a fad or do what seems creative of flashy. But these things can be distracting to students and can actually detract from the effective design of instruction. An example of a distracting but common theory of how people learn is Learning Styles, which I write about here. Learning styles sound credible, but there is actually little or no evidence that adapting instruction to learning styles is actually effective.
I recommend watching this video, which gives a nice overview of the design phase:
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