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Instructional Design Approaches

This section provides an overview of important theoretical frameworks that guide purposeful decision-making in the planning and delivering of instruction.

Backward Design

Backward design is an instructional design framework that begins with identifying student learning outcomes—what students need to know or do by the end of the lesson, module, or course. The backward design framework is divided into three stages:

  1. Identify student learning outcomes.
  2. Develop assessments to demonstrate the learning outcomes.
  3. Select teaching strategies, learning activities, and resources to support achievement of the learning outcomes.

Community of Inquiry

Community of inquiry (CoI) is a framework used to build a community of learners who collaborate in inquiry-based learning. The CoI can be applied to any mode of delivery. However, it is particularly useful for improving student interaction and engagement when facilitating courses fully online or with asynchronous components. It helps instructors build a safe, trusting community, in which carefully planned collaborative activities lead to deep and meaningful learning.

Universal Design for Learning

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an instructional design framework that aims to remove or reduce barriers to learning by maximizing access to all students—no matter their background, language fluency, learning needs, or cognitive and perceptual abilities. With the UDL framework, student diversity is intentionally kept at the forefront when making decisions about course design and delivery.

Faculty Guidance and Support

The Academic Centre of Excellence (ACE) provides professional development, training, and resources to assist with instructional design and delivery. The following links can help you get started: