Designing your blended learning course

For those new to blended learning design, the DADDIE model can provide a useful framework to guide the process of experimenting with new forms of learning. In my earlier posts I discussed the importance of defining the learning outcomes and analysing the learners’ requirements before embarking on developing a blended learning course. These key steps will provide a solid foundation for your course design and help to ensure that any changes to your teaching strategy are driven by improvements in pedagogy rather than fads in technology.

Once you have established the learning outcomes and analysed the learners’ needs, you can begin to design the structure of your course.  Designing a course is a bit like planning a journey – how will you take your learners from their current state of knowledge to where you would like them to be after the learning experience? Whether you are working on your own or as part of a course team, this stage will involve several tasks, including:

  • Selecting the topics to be covered based on the learning outcomes
  • Planning the sequence for content delivery
  • Deciding the delivery methods for knowledge transfer
  • Identifying the activities that will help learners develop skills
  • Designing the assessments that will test skills and knowledge

The short animated video below explains what is involved in designing the course structure and content:

One of the most important parts of this stage is the design of the assessments. Ideally, instructional designers should design the assessments first and then plan the course format and instructional strategy around the assessments. However, often assessment methods are not given sufficient deliberation and do not evaluate the digital capabilities that students have acquired during their blended learning course. Key questions that you should keep in mind when designing your course include:

  • What am I going to assess and why?
  • Does the assessment align with the learning outcomes?
  • How can I make the assessment authentic and fair?
  • Will the assessment be manageable for students and staff?

Once you have decided on the assessments for the course, you can begin to design the instructional strategy which will allow students to acquire the subject knowledge and develop the necessary skills. With a blended course format, you will have a variety of instructional methods to choose from so you need to consider carefully which methods are most appropriate for each topic or skill. The first decision you will need to make will be whether the content or activity is best suited to online or classroom delivery.  Try to factor in a range of teaching and learning methods for each topic, using both online and face-to-face delivery, to ensure you accommodate the differing needs and preferences of learners.

apple-606761_1280Technology, such as a learning management system (LMS) or virtual learning environment (VLE), can facilitate the design of blended learning courses by providing templates and built-in learning activities that can easily be customised to deliver your course content.  These can include discussion forums, wikis, glossaries, quizzes, workshops and interactive lessons. They also present various opportunities to transform the assessment process including the ability to streamline the management of assessments, facilitate peer review and reflection, standardise grading and automate feedback. Looking at how other courses are presented on an LMS or VLE can help you get started with designing your own blended course.

A key outcome of the Design phase will be the development of the Scheme of Work and the identification of activities that can be digitised.  The Scheme of Work is usually structured by lesson and should outline:

  • The learning outcomes of the lesson
  • The teaching and learning activities that will help students to meet the learning outcomes
  • Any resources that will be used, including permitted third party content
  • How the learning outcomes will be assessed
  • Any independent study materials students can use to supplement their learning
  • The equipment that will be required

Your Scheme of Work should be a dynamic document as your course design goes through the iterative phases of development, implementation and evaluation. However, even a draft Scheme of Work will be a useful guide for developing the content for your blended learning course, which we will look at next.

In the meantime, you might be interested in this free online course by FutureLearn and AACTE:

Designing Assessments to Measure Student Outcomes.

Also, you may find the following article useful:

Race, P. (2009) Designing assessment to improve Physical Sciences learning.



  1. […] Dr. Helen Dixion shared her thoughts and tips for designing a blended learning course. She suggested that instructional designers can refer to the DADDIE model for guidance on experimenting with new forms of learning. Dixon (2017) says we are charged with planning a journey, assessing the current state of knowledge of our students and deciding where you want them to be after their learning experience.  During the planning phase factors to consider are as follows; planning the sequence of delivery, the delivery methods, identifying the activities to help learn and develop skills and assessments to test knowledge. A YouTube video was included in this blog to highlight the phases of a blended course design process, what I found most interesting was the different methods to develop expertise; namely modeling, coaching, reflection and exploration. The blended course provides a variety of instructional methods so as instructional designers we have to decipher what’s appropriate for each topic/skill. Dixon suggested using the Learning Management System (LMS) or the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) to design blended learning courses. […]


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