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Plan Your Design

Here are  some ideas on how to plan your module design for either a fully on-line or blended format.   This is a short  two-page summary of  the longer accompanying resource  (Resource: Planning your Module Design for On-line or Blended modules).

Introduction & Planning Off-line

Your starting point is to carefully plan (off-line) your module’s teaching, learning and assessment activities to allow for an engaging and active learning experience. In the design of the learning environment, it is recommended that you should consider the teaching and learning principles.  See also Chickering and Gamson’s principles (1991) on teaching and learning.

Have a listen to the informative video presented by Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) (2013) titled ‘Planning your on-line class.’ This resource considers what you should put online
It examines the importance of considering pedagogy before technology; constructively aligning assessment with learning outcomes; and the integration of digital literacy skills. It also offers some useful strategies for deciding which components are better suited to an online learning environment’.

As for all module design processes, consider the needs of your student group and the context of their learning. Based on this, identify  the key task/learning that you hope your students will  achieve in this module. It is only at this point  that you should consider what technologies are most suitable to supporting this. On overview of some of the technologies can be seen in the accompanying resource (see Resource: Planning your Module Design for On-line or Blended modules) and are presented in more detail in the Incorporate Technology and Activities page.

Creating Themes/Units

In order to reduce information overload on-line, first organize your module’s content into themes/concepts/units as is appropriate to your subject (see Resource: Planning Your Module Design for Online or Blended Modules ).

Integrating the Teaching and Learning Activities

As Bb allows students to engage with the materials before, during and after class, consider the best sequence for when and how students might do this, i.e. develop a plan  to ‘wrap’  (Figure 1) the blend of content, activities and resources (Fink, 2003, 2004; Littlejohn & Pegler, 2007) .

Figure 1. Blended Learning The Wrap-around


How Should I Document My Plans?

There are different models/approaches to documenting e-learning designs.  A common feature of many such frameworks is that 'people' engage in 'activities' with the support of 'resources'.  (see Planning Your Module Design for Online or Blended Modules )

Figure 2. Learning Design Sequence Map (one example), based on Littlejohn & Pegler, (2007) and Oliver & Herrington (2001). 


How can I be Inclusive of all Learners?

The on-line environment should be inclusive of all learners see Universal Design in Education developed by the University of Washington to ensure that educational programmes serve all students.   To assist in the design of your Blackboard environment see Accessible Blackboard, a summary of considerations developed by the UCD Access Office. 


What Should I Know About Copyright for Blackboard?

In designing your module, ensure that you are aware and adhere to the guidelines on copyright. See Copyright and E-learning for more information.

  • Australian Learning and Teaching Council  (2013)   Planning your on-line class
  • Fink, L. D. (2003). Creating significant learning experiences: An integrated approach to designing college courses. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Fink, L.D. (2004), A Self-Directed Guide to Designing Courses for Significant Learning
  • Littlejohn, A., & Pegler, C. (2007) Documenting e-learning blends, In, Preparing for Blended E-Learning. 70-93. New York: Routledge.
  • Oliver, R. & Herrington, J. (2001). Teaching and learning online: A beginner’s guide to e-learning and e-teaching in higher education. Edith Cowan University: Western Australia.
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