Designing Instruction For Authentic Learning

Designing Instruction For Authentic Learning
Summary: An applied approach to Instructional Design where the Backwards Design model is integrated into the design phase of ADDIE to create Authentic Learning. Increase the transfer of knowledge effectiveness rate by allowing students to become active learners instead of passive receivers of information.

How To Design Instruction For Authentic Learning

The following process will review each phase of ADDIE as it focuses on integrating Authentic Learning. It is important to note that there are many other pedagogical strategies for Deeper Learning. In addition, the role of edTech is directly correlated to Instructional Design and allows instruction to become more efficient; for more information see the New Media Horizon Reports. Also note, the ADDIE model has been modified. Here is what you need to know about designing instruction for Authentic Learning.

Analyzing The Student Population

This is much easier in educational institutions than in corporate learning, but it is important to know and understand the students you are serving. Design the instruction so that all students will be successful. This model requires instructors to become facilitators in the learning process. They will provide the framework that each student will build upon. Each student should have the opportunity to take their learning and correlate it to existing knowledge, it is the role of the instructor to know the student’s existing knowledge and to identify which students need additional guidance or less guidance and continually reflect based on the effectiveness of the delivered instruction.

Designing Instruction

The Design Phase of ADDIE is where the integration of Backwards Design comes into play. Begin by writing objectives for the course, these are not set in stone as you will probably go back and change them; however, it is a good starting point. Then, design a summative assessment based on those objectives. Be sure the assessment requires students to apply the skills/theories learned in the course to a real-world scenario or skill – increase the rigor and require problem solving and critical thinking. The summative assessment should correlate to some sort of career oriented skill based on the content being taught. Adjust the objectives of the course or the summative assessment until they meets your needs. This phase integrates the Authentic Learning aspect.

Once your summative assessment and course objectives are finished, work backwards by breaking down the summative assessment into units and then write objectives for those units. Each unit should require students to apply the concepts being taught within the unit to a career oriented task. Sometimes the application of each unit requires students to work towards their summative assessment, but if possible require students to apply that skill set twice; once in the unit and then again for the summative assessment at the end of the course. Adjust the course objectives or the summative assessment if needed. Assessments should require students to think critically, problem solve, create, and collaborate.

What has been completed:

  1. Course objectives.
  2. Summative assessment.
  3. Units of the summative assessment.
  4. Objectives of units.
  5. Applications of each unit objectives (formative assessment).

Development Of Content

This phase is where you build upon each unit’s objectives and applications (formative assessments) by creating all learning materials. Include curated material, videos, discussions, and any additional formative assessments. In eLearning, most units consist of learning materials (course readings and videos), discussion posts, and an application (formative assessment).  This is also the phase where authoring tools are utilized. Developing course content should always provide students with the skills to complete the application, but again, the instructor should guide students through the process. Keep the course highly rigorous and require students to make connections between the content and assessments. Allow them to correlate the applications to their existing knowledge, but emphasize critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity. Go back and adjust objectives and formative assessments to help with rigor.


This phase needs multiple different professionals such as eLearning experts, Instructional Designers, and instructors to review the course. Learning should be seamless and scaffolded to whereas the transfer of knowledge is inevitable.  Some may need to move back to the development phase or even the design phase of some units for the flow to remain seamless.


It is important to recognize that evaluation occurs after the delivery of all instruction. It occurs during and after a unit as well as the course.

Continuing The Instructional Design Process

Designing courses or trainings require a continuous evaluation during all phases which is why this model is used to design initial courses; however, it is not a one size fits all and changes are made frequently as designers move from one phase to the next and back again. Some might argue this is the downfall of ADDIE especially when budgets are not available, but effective instruction isn’t made rapidly in the field of education. On the contrary, rapid learning may be applicable to an immediate need for learning in the private sector which would make this model ineffective.