The Anatomy of an Online Course

If you are responsible for creating an online training course, you might be staring at a blank screen with a blinking cursor. Fortunately, you do not have to wait for inspiration to strike or to start from scratch. Trainers that have gone before you have created “instructional designs” you can use as models or frameworks to create your own online course.

The Anatomy of an Online Course

Dick, Carey & Carey Model: Traditional

While this instructional design was first created in 1978, it is a tried and true method that online course designers can still use today and apply it to online learning. The framework uses a sequence of events to teach the concept or topic at hand. Primarily, the Dick, Carey & Carey Model focuses on real-world scenarios, which works to engage the learner and answer the needs of the trainee. The model is easily translated into an online version, where examples and case studies lead the way to walking the attendee through the learning process.

This model consists of nine primary stages.

Stage 1: Identify the goals for the course

Stage 2: Analyze the needs for the material

Stage 3: Identify the audience for the material

Stage 4: Create performance objectives

Stage 5: Develop test items based on the course objectives

Stage 6: Develop the instructional strategy

Stage 7: Select and develop the course materials

Stage 8: Develop and conduct a formative evaluation

Stage 9: Develop and conduct a summative evaluation

ADDIE

ADDIE stands for Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation and Evaluation and applies to the five stages of instructional design. It offers a universal approach to training and education that has been in place since the 1970s. It provides such a solid foundation, however, that online course designers still use the same five phases today.

The model has you start off by analyzing the audience and the need for the material that you want to present. Based on your analysis, you then move into the design phase of the content. The development phase turns the designs into the slides, screenshots or presentation materials of the course. The implementation phase is when the course rolls out online and the evaluation phase assesses the course via feedback.

Instructional Design Model for Online Learning

This model is a hybrid of the Dick, Carey & Carey Model and the ADDIE model. This is also a supplementary model—meaning it is not a standalone model, but instead should be used in conjunction with one of the other online course development models. This model suggests that you build the anatomy of the online course using 24 pedagogical dimensions. In other words, it takes a psychological angle so that you appeal to the human brain when creating course materials and modules.

When you set out to design and create an online course, you do not have to go it alone. Many before you have created online and offline courses. Use one of the online course and education models as a framework for assembling your own online courses.

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