Tag Archives: instructional design

Wire Framing with Moodle

Before teaching a Moodle course it is critical that a teacher design what they want to do. For many teachers, they believe that they begin the design process by going to Moodle and adding activity and other resources to their class. For someone who is thoroughly familiar with Moodle and has developed courses before this might work. However, for the majority online teachers, they need to wireframe what they want their Moodle course to look like online.

Why Wireframe a Moodle Course

In the world of web developers, a wireframe is a prototype of what a potential website will look like. The actual wireframe can be made in many different platforms from Word, Powerpoint, and even just paper and pencil. Since Moodle is online a Moodle course in many ways is a website so wireframing applies to this context.

It doesn’t matter how you wireframes their Moodle course. What matters is that you actually do this. Designing what you want to see in your course helps you to make decisions much faster when you are actually adding activities and resources to your Moodle course. It also helps your Moodle support to help you if they have a picture of what you want rather than wild hand gestures and frustration.

Wire farming a course also reduces the cognitive load on the teacher. Instead of designing and building the course a the same time. Wireframing splits this task into two steps, which are designing, and then building. This prevents extreme frustration as it is common for a teacher just to stare at the computer screen when trying to design and develop a Moodle course simultaneously.

You never see an architect making his plans while building the building. This would seem careless and even dangerous because the architect doesn’t even know what he wants while he is throwing around concrete and steel. The same analogy applies with designing Moodle courses. A teacher must know what they want, write it down, and then implement it by creating the course.

Another benefit of planning in Word is that it is easier to change things in Word when compared to Moodle. Moodle is amazing but it is not easy to use for those who are not tech-savvy. However, it’s easiest for most of us to copy, paste, and edit in Word.

One Way to Wire Frame a Moodle Course

When supporting teachers to wireframe a Moodle course, I always encourage them to start by developing the course in Microsoft Word. The reason is that the teacher is already familiar with Word and they do not have to struggle to make decisions when using it. This helps them to focus on content and not on how to use Microsoft Word.

One of the easiest ways to wireframe a Moodle course is to take the default topics of a course such as General Information, Week 1, Week 2, etc. and copy these headings into Word, as shown below.

Screenshot from 2017-01-20 09-15-19.png

Now, all that is needed is to type in using bullets exactly what activities and resources you want in each section. It is also possible to add pictures and other content to the Word document that can be added to Moodle later.  Below is a preview of a generic Moodle sample course with the general info and week 1 of the course completed.

Screenshot from 2017-01-20 09-26-00.png

You can see for yourself how this class is developed. The General Info section has an image to serve as a welcome and includes the name of the course. Under this the course outline and rubrics for the course. The information in the parentheses indicates what type of module it is.

For Week 1, there are several activities. There is a forum for introducing yourself. A page that shares the objectives of that week. Following this are the readings for the week, then a discussion forum, and lastly an assignment. This process completes for however many weeks are topics you have in the course.

Depending on your need to plan, you can even plan other pages on the site beside the main page. For example, I can wireframe what I want my “Objectives” page to look like or even the discussion topics for my “Discussion” forum.

Of course, the ideas for all these activities comes from the course outline or syllabus that was developed first. In other words, before we even wireframe we have some sort of curriculum document with what the course needs to cover.


The example above is an extremely simple way of utilizing the power of wireframing. With this template, you can confidently go to Moodle and find the different modules to make your class come to life. Trying to conceptualize this in your head is possible but much more difficult. As such, thorough planning is a hallmark of learning.

The CCAF Model of Instructional Design

The CCAF Model is another model of instruction used by teachers in both online and traditional classrooms. Acronym stands for


This post will discuss each of these characteristics.


Context is about establishing a setting in which the learning is relevant for the learners. This means developing real-world connections in the lesson so that students can see ways of application.

For example, if you are required to teaching a heavily theoretical course such as educational philosophy, establishing a context may mean showing how the various philosophy of education impact how teachers make decisions. You may also want to articulate how your own beliefs affect how you develop classes.


Challenging students is the same as engaging them. Assignments need to be stimulating enough that students have to work somewhat to complete them. This step has a great deal to do with motivation and overlaps with the previous step of context.

The main difference here is that at the challenge stage the students should be actively engaged in doing something. With context, the teacher is laying the foundation for the learning.


Activities are an extension of challenge. Activities need to be risk-free in order to allow students to learn from mistakes without fear of this lowering their grade. This step of the CCAF Model is similar to the practice step of other models.

The activities can also include interaction with peers through group experiences. This allows for you another form of communication in relation to progress in achieving learning goals.


While the students are engaged in challenging activities, this provides you as the teacher with opportunities to provide feedback on performance. Constant feedback helps students to know where they are at and how they are doing.

The feedback can take many shapes. It could be verbal encouragement, non-verbal approval, written, etc. The goal is to keep students in the loop in terms of their performance.


The CCAF model is a model that is focused on execution and is highly student-centered in terms of the activity level. After the context is set, the students are constantly engaged with doing various tasks and receiving feedback. This emphasis on action is what allows the students to be able to retain what they learn and call upon this knowledge in an authentic situation when they enter the workplace.

ASSURE Instructional Design Model

The ASSURE instructional design model is yet another approach to conceptualizing the teaching experience. This model has the following steps

A — Analyze learners

S — State standards & objectives

S — Select strategies, technology, media & materials

U — Utilize technology, media & materials

R — Require learner participation

E — Evaluate & revise

In this post, we will look at each aspect of the ASSURE model.

Analyze Learners

Analyzing learners is in many ways another term for conducting a needs analysis. A teacher needs to know the skills and abilities of the students they are work with in order to determine where the students need to go. Any form of pre-assessment or communication with the students can provide information for analyzing the students.

Standards and Objectives

Once you know where the students are, you need to see how you can incorporate government standards and objectives if necessary. In education, there is a balancing act between the needs of the students and government requirements. This step makes you aware of this balancing act.

Select Strategies

With the ideas of the content settled, it is now time to determine the activities that will be used to facilitate learning. How this is done depends on the students’ needs and the governmental requires as well as the preferences of the teacher.

Utilize Technology

Incorporating the use of technology is one of the distinct traits of the ASSURE model. How this is done is again up to the teacher. The point is that if someone is an adopter of the ASSURE model it implies some use of technology.

Require Student Participation

Students need to be active learners in the classroom. This natural means having activities that provide opportunities for engagement. This can happen through using technology or by other means.

Evaluate & Revise

Evaluating happens with the assessment that comes after the learning experience. It allows the teacher to see if the students have demonstrated mastery of the content. The options for doing this depend on how the class was developed.


The ASSURE model provides an alternative approach to the setting of the learning environment of a classroom. Keeping in mind these components can guide teachers in preparing lessons that are beneficial to the students.

Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction

Robert Gagne was a psychologist in the field of education. One of his most influential ideas was his Nine Events of Instruction. The concept has had a significant impact in the instructional approach of many in the world of education.

This post will briefly explain and cover the Nine Events of Instruction and to explain their application in the classroom. The nine events are as follows.

  1. Gain learners’ attention.
  2. Inform learners of the objectives.
  3. Stimulate recall of prior learning.
  4. Present the content.
  5. Provide “learning guidance”
  6. Elicit performance (practice)
  7. Provide feedback.
  8. Assess performance.
  9. Enhance retention and transfer to the real-world

Gain Learners Attention

Obtaining attention is critical in terms of information processing. Unfocused students cannot learn anything. How a teacher gains the attention of their students can vary. Some use classroom management techniques to obtain behavior such as ringing a bell or raising their hand to indicate that it is time to be quiet.

Inform Learners of the Objectives

It is hard for many to enjoy a journey when they do not know where they are going. The same idea applies to many students. You need to explain to them what they will do in order for them to enjoy doing it. This is one reason for sharing with the students the objectives or purpose of a class. It provides a sense of direction and perhaps relevance.

Stimulate Prior Learning

Stimulating prior learning allows students to connect new information with old. Review what they have learned in order to extend and build upon it. This is one aspect of constructivism. The review can be in the form of questions, game or some other method. Students need to see the connections among the information they are learning for schematic reasons as well.

Present Content

This the part of the teaching in which new material is presented. This can be done through any method of teaching including direct instruction, indirect instruction, cooperative learning, etc.

Provide Guidance

After learning new material, students need to use it. This first happens with a hands-on example with guidance. In other words, the first few problems are done together with teacher support. This is the scaffolding aspect of Vygotsky’s model. You as the teacher guide the students through the initial experience of using new information.

Elicit Performance

At this step, the students are executing the new skill without immediate feedback. Students need the freedom to perform without instant critique even from the teacher. However, this is only temporary.

Provide Feedback

Now the students learn how they did. This can happen through going over the answers or discuss various opinions about a subjective subject. This event provides students with a way to compare their performance with that of others or some external standard.

Assess Performance

This is the giving of some sort of grade or indication of progress. There are several different methods for giving marks or grades.

Enhance Retention through Transfer to Real World

Students need to see how the knowledge they attain can be used in the real world. Therefore, the teacher needs to assist in this transfer. This can be through discussion on how to do this or through the use of some sort of authentic assessment.


Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction is a fantastic model to follow when trying to teach and interact with students. The order is the most common flow and there are natural exceptions to the order developed by Gagne. However, a teacher chooses to do this they should keep in mind the nine events in order to support student learning.

ARCS Model of Motivational Design

The ARCS model of motivational design is an instructional model used in education. Instructional models are used to facilitate the learning experience of students. The ARCS model provides a step-by-step process of engaging students, building there confidence, and providing a sense of satisfaction during a learning experience.

In this post, we will look at the various aspects of the ARCS model as they are based on the acronym below

A  ttention
R  elevance
C  onfidence
S  atisfaction


Attention is the first step in the ARCS model. The goal at this stage is to help the learner to focus on the lesson.  There are several different ways to do this and they include the following.

  • Examples such as stories, and or audiovisual.
  • Hands-on experience such as experiments, skits, etc
  • Incongruity and Conflict which can be through employing cognitive dissonance. For example, making a statement that confuses students could provide a hook to get them to focus on the lesson
  • Inquiry involves having students ask questions to pull them into the lesson. The questions they develop rouse their desire to find the answer

None of these approaches are exclusive, which means that they can be used in combination with each other. For example, you could use an example to cause incongruity and or inquiry. The point is that a teacher must find a way to get their students’ attention.


Relevance is about using concepts and ideas the students can connect with to explain whatever new ideas are in the lesson. If students can see how what they are learning connect with their lives they are more inclined to learn it. Below are some ways to bring relevance into a lesson

  • Future usefulness means showing the students how what they are learning will help them later. This is not the strongest approach but it provides a platform for developing relevancy.
  • Needs matching means helping students to discover that they need to learn a particular skill or idea. When students know they need to learn something they are often motivated to learn it.
  • Modeling means being an example for the students. By demonstrating the new skill, student have something that they can imitate. This relates well with social learning theory.
  • Choice is highly motivating for many students. Through empowering students, there is often an increase in making learning relevant.


Developing confidence is about providing students with opportunities to succeed. What this means for the teacher is to provide assessment and activities that are stimulating but not impossible to complete.

A general rule of thumb is that students should be a able to successful complete 60-70% of a new skill on the first try. This allows them to have some degree of success while still indicating where they need to improve.


Satisfaction is closely related to confidence. With satisfaction, you provide the students with authentic situation in which to use their newly acquire skills. This implies the use of authentic assessments. However, authentic assessment requires feedback in order for the student to understand their growth opportunities.


The ARCS model provides teachers with an easy to follow template for developing clear instruction. The foundational principles in this model are useful for anyone who is looking for a way to vary their teaching practices.

Rapid Instructional Design

Instructional design is a critical component of education particularly in the field of e-learning. Instructional design can be defined as the application of learning principles in order to support the learning of students. To put it simply, instructional design involves designing the teaching in a way that improves learning.

In this post, we will look at one example of an instructional design. We will look at Dave Meiers’s Rapid Instructional Design (RID).

Meier’s RID model uses learning techniques that speed up learning and includes a learning environment that emphasizes practice, feedback, and experience rather than presentations. RID is focused on active learning rather than the traditional model of passive learning through such examples as lecturing.

The RID model has the following four phases

  • Preparation
  • Presentation
  • Practice
  • Performance


Preparation is about preparing the learner for learning. In this first step, the teacher would share the big picture of the learning experience. This includes state the goals and benefits of the learning experience. Other activities at this step are to arouse the interest of the reader in an appropriate matter and to deal with any potential problems that would impede the learning.

How this can be done varies. Often, beginning a lesson with a story or illustration can arouse interest. Dealing with problem students could be one way to deal with potential barriers to learning.


At the presentation step, the learners are first exposed to the new knowledge and or skill. Whereas traditional teaching focuses on content delivery, the RID model focus on interactive activities and discovery learning.

A primary goal of RID is to use and incorporate real world phenomenon into the teaching. For example, do not only talk about math but develop lessons from the real world involving people and companies for the students. This enhances relevancy.


Practice involves having the students use whatever they just learned. This is critical as this allows them to learn through trial-and-error. As they receive feedback on their progress the students develop mastery.

Practice is easy in such fields as math, science, and even music. For more abstract fields such as critical thinking, theology, and philosophy. Practice takes place via discussion or through expressing ideas in writing. Demonstrating thought through communicating ideas verbally and in writing are forms of practice for more abstract subjects.


Performance is the application of the skill in a real-world setting. This is also known as an authentic assessment. How this is done is discipline specific.

In education, performance includes such activities as the student teaching phase of a new teacher. This allows the student to apply many of the skills they learned during their teacher training. In music, the recital serves as an excellent model of performance.


The RID model is just one of many ways to guide the learners of students. The value of this model is in the simplicity of its approach and the emphasis on active learning.

Indirect Instruction

Indirect instruction is a teaching approach that uses inquiry and encourages higher order thinking skills in an environment that encourage problem-solving and or project based learning. Indirect instruction is based on the philosophy of constructivism, which states that people derive meaning from their own experiences.

There are many different strategies that fall under the category of indirect instruction. The main characteristic of indirect instruction is that the teacher is not directly leading and teaching the students. Instead, the students are developing comprehension of the text among themselves. Some common strategies include.

  • Advanced Organizers
  • Student self-evaluation
  • Group discussion

Advanced Organizers

Advanced organizers provide a visual of whatever a teacher is trying to explain. The visual helps the students to organize and process the information they are seeing. Advanced organizers are indirectly explaining content through the visual they provide.

Below is an example of an advanced organizer. This chart is about various time periods in music. The visual divides the content into three eras (Baroque, Classical, and Romantic). Underneath each era is a prominent composer of that era (Bach, Mozart, and Listz). Students would see this information while the teacher is discussing it. By doing this, the visual reinforces the verbal information the student heard and strengthens retention.


Student Self-Evaluation

Another way that students can learn is through providing them with the opportunity to review their performance on a particular task. Self-evaluation allows the student to assess how well they perform on a particular assignment or assessment. As the student judges their own progress, they learn what they are doing well at as well as where they need to improve. The teacher role is to provide hints as to what may be some of the student’s problems.

Self-evaluation can take one of many forms. For example, students can complete a rubric. The rubric provides a criterion by which the student can assess their performance. Another option is the use of a reflective journal. The journals help the students to consider their thoughts and feelings as they were participating in an activity or completing an assignment. The primary goal is to get the student thinking about how they are doing.

Group Discussion

Group discussion is an experience of several students coming together to share views on a concept or idea with or without the guidance of the teacher.The goals of group discussion are to understand a concept, engage the students, develop communication, and contribute to deeper thinking processes. The teacher, if they are participating, serves as a facilitator who provides a conducive environment for discussion as well as contributing to the discussion.

Group discussion allows students to think out loud and share their comments in the moment. This experience also allows for students to challenge one another and develop critical thinking skills. It is safe to say that most classes should have some form of discussion at one time or another. Such opportunities for verbal expression are important for the students to learn in a form other than the direct instruction of the teacher.


Indirect instruction is a method of teaching that allows the students to develop an understanding of the text with minimal leadership from the teacher. The methods here are just the tip of the iceberg in this form of instruction.