There are many instructional design models available to guide course design processes, but a fundamental principle of most (if not all) is the alignment of course objectives, content, learning activities and assessment strategies. The ID process begins with the establishment of a clear set of expectations for what knowledge and skills students should be able to demonstrate by the end of the course. Assessments (tests, papers, projects, etc.) can then be designed to measure whether students have achieved those objectives. Content presentation and learning activities are designed to provide students with information, practice and feedback necessary to meet the objectives.
Karen Swan (2004) summarized research on learning effectiveness in a publication distributed by the Sloan Consortium. Swan frames research findings on learning effectiveness in terms of three different types of interaction in online courses – how students are interact with the instructor, the course content, and each other – and suggests practical implications for each.
Chickering and Gamson’s “7 Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education” was originally published by AAHE in 1987. Chickering and Ehrmann (1996) published an update to the 7 Principles, tying the guidelines to online tools and environments. Their widely distributed “Implementing the Seven Principles: Technology as Lever” provides both explanation of the principles and practical suggestions for how to implement the principles in online environments. The article also provides links to more extensive libraries of suggested online activities, organized according to the seven principles.
Chickering, Arthur and Stephen C. Ehrmann (1996), “Implementing the Seven Principles: Technology as Lever,” AAHE Bulletin, October, pp. 3-6.
Swan, Karen (2004), “Relationships between interactions and learning in online environments,” The Sloan Consortium.