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Principles of Online Design
Principles of Online Design



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Instructional Design

Instructional/Audience Analysis | Goals/Objectives | Instructional Activities | Evaluation | Teaching Strategies

1.1 Instructional & Audience Analysis

1.1.1 Formal or informal instructional and audience analyses should be conducted prior to the onset of a course design.

1.1.2 Instructional analysis should determine the suitability of a course for online delivery with present technology capability.


A. Before deciding to develop an online/Internet based course, it is first necessary to consider one very important question: "Is the course suited for online delivery?"

B. Some subject matter and course outcomes are not suitable for online/Internet delivery.


Instructional content that requires tactile manipulation, such as certain labs, might be difficult to teach and evaluate exclusively via the Internet, although portions of the course could be delivered online.

1.1.3 Instructional analysis should determine areas of knowledge and skills involved in achieving instructional goals.

Different areas of knowledge and skills require different attention and treatment in the design of instructional activities.

  • Concept learning requires information gathering and organization
  • Cognitive skills require problem solving and critical thinking
  • Psychomotor skills require practice and hands-on experience
  • Attitudinal changes require role play and situational practice
1.1.4 Audience analysis should determine the learner's personal characteristics, intellectual skills, subject knowledge level, and the purpose of taking the course.


A. When designing a course, always keep in mind who the course is intended for and how the information gained in the course will be utilized.



Information to consider:

  • What are some of the personal characteristics of the learners (age, profession, background, family life, etc.)?
  • What is the educational level of the learners (lower or upper division, or graduate)?
  • For what purpose are the learners taking the course?
  • How will the learners use/apply the knowledge gained in the course?
  • What do the learners already know about the topic (Are there any prerequisites? Is it an upper division course or a lower division introductory/general knowledge course?)
1.1.5 Audience analysis should also include the learner's technology skills and previous experiences with online courses.


A. Do not assume that all students are at the same level of experience with technology; plan for the most naïve users.



The Technology Self Assessment is one way that students, faculty, and staff are able to analyze their skills and readiness to participate in an online course. Online tutorials are also available for students to improve technology skills.

B. Do not penalize students with limited Internet/computer experience.

Some questions to consider include:
What experience do the learners have with online/Internet courses?
What level of computer/Internet skills do the learners have?
Do the learners have the technology available to access the course content and complete all coursework?

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