5 Steps To Follow When Using An Instructional Design Framework For Your Online Courses

5 Steps To Follow When Using An Instructional Design Framework For Your Online Courses
Summary: Without a plan, you might waste a lot of time making decisions and adjustments as you go that could ultimately cause you to end up reworking the whole course. This framework will make you rethink how you approach online course creation.

Instructional Design Framework For Your Online Courses: 5 Steps To Follow

You’ve just landed your new job as an Instructional Designer, and you’re ready to start producing some learning materials. With all the new technology and tools available today to create online courses, this is an exciting time for eLearning, and a great time to be in this industry.

But, before you start, it’s important to choose a framework that works best for your style and your training team. It's important to understand how to create an online course, and to understand the criteria needed to maximize value. The right Instructional Design framework will set your eLearning project up for a successful outcome.

Why You Need An Instructional Design Framework To Create Online Courses

An Instructional Design model -or framework- is a tool to help design and create courses. It’s a systematic approach to developing training solutions. You’re probably thinking, "But I know what I want to teach and I’m ready to start creating content". So, why is it important to pause and first consider a framework?

Let’s use the analogy of building a house. Before you start, you need to have a vision of what you want. Then, you work with an architect to draw up the plans: where the doors and windows are placed, how big the garage will be, the type of wood that will be used for the kitchen cabinets, the specific tile chosen for the bathroom, and the color of paint for the outside of the house.

Only then does the building process begin, as the contractor and team embark on executing those carefully considered plans.

Imagine if you started to create online courses without knowing who your audience is, what objectives you wanted to achieve, how you would measure the course effectiveness, how you would market it and other details such as which videos, and images, and colors, and fonts will be used.

Without a plan, you might waste a lot of time making decisions and adjustments as you go that could ultimately cause you to end up reworking the whole course.

Using a framework provides a step-by-step guide to help the Instructional Designer (like the contractor) organize the project, and ensure that all aspects of the project are covered along the way. This method saves time and builds an eLearning process that can generate ideas for the Instructional Designer. Additionally, the structure will help identify gaps within content and visualize training, so the design process can be laid out in easy-to-follow logical steps.

Related reading: How to Create an Online Course in 5 Easy Steps

What Are Some Typical Instructional Design Frameworks?

The website InstructionalDesign.org identifies 25 Instructional Design frameworks [1], including:

  • ADDIE.
    Popular in business and organizational environments, the ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation) model is a framework in which each phase is perfected before moving on to the next one.
  • Rapid Prototyping.
    This model follows an iterative process to create online courses in a continual design-evaluation cycle.
  • SAM.
    Like Rapid Prototyping, SAM (Successive Approximation Model) uses a process that enables analysis, design, and development to take place at the same time.
  • KEMP.
    Consisting of 9 steps, the KEMP model [2] promotes a continuous cycle for the design and development process. It places emphasis on defining the instructional problem.
  • Dick and Carey.
    Popular in schools and educational environments, the Dick and Carey model [3] starts by identifying instructional goals, and it ends with conducting a summative evaluation.

See the full eLearning glossary here.

A Comprehensive And Easy-To-Use Framework

SchoolKeep's Beginner’s Guide to Creating an Online Training Program is a comprehensive and easy-to-understand Instructional Design framework for learning and using modern Learning Management Systems. It has 5 steps: define, outline, build, engage, and measure.

1. Define

In the first step, define your learner personas, goals, and how to measure success. Before you can begin designing your course, it’s important to understand who your target audience is. Define your learner persona by identifying the demographics (age, location, gender, interests, family structure, professional status), what kind of challenges your learners may face in taking an online course, and how they like to learn.

Then, define your goals and plan the project. Are you onboarding new employees, addressing skill gaps, attracting new leads or providing online support? Whatever it may be, define how you will deliver and test training.

Also, define how to measure success and determine how engagement will be measured. A robust training platform will offer metrics such as page views, learner progress, and quiz submission count. You should also determine how you will measure learner knowledge at course completion, and how this will to the business goals.

2. Outline

Step 2 in the On-Demand Training Framework helps you outline your training before you build it. Focus the first part of your outline on the top course topic, and define your training objectives. Determine subtopics for learners, and what you want them to take away upon completion of the course.

Once you’ve completed the outline, start storyboarding by mocking up each subtopic. Determine where text, images, and videos will go. Decide on colors, sizes, and font styles. This will ensure content vision and design are organized as you move forward.

3. Build

Now, the fun begins. In step 3, begin building your course and content production by writing the scripts or text, and creating the videos to be used in the final product.

Start building the course from your storyboard, putting the modules together, inserting the images, and videos, and including the quizzes, questions, and assessments that will appear throughout. When you have your first draft completed, conduct a beta test to make sure everything works and the course flows smoothly.

4. Engage

At this point, your content is developed and loaded into your learning platform. Step 4 of the On-Demand Training Framework walks you through how to launch your training, provide access, and engage your learners.

Create a marketing plan and market your course, by helping your target learners understand why it is valuable to them. Incentivize the course to increase its value.

Then, deliver your message with press releases and advertising on social media, or use inbound marketing techniques such as blog posts, white papers, and eBooks.

5. Measure

You defined the goals of your business and training initiative in the beginning, and you identified metrics you would monitor. Now, it’s time to measure the effectiveness of your training.

In this final step of the framework, you’ll wrap up your efforts by examining the data from the metrics you choose. Monitor user-growth and mastery, while also paying attention to page view metrics. User behavior and function will give insight into the effectiveness of the course, and show areas that required improvement. Most importantly, collect feedback from your learners, so you can make positive adjustments to the course going forward.

Choose A Framework As Your First Step To Success

We hope you found this introduction to Instructional Designer frameworks helpful as you embark on planning your courses. Whichever model you choose will depend on your style, and what works best for your training team.

An all-in-one Learning Management System can make it even easier for the Instructional Designer to map and manage an eLearning project. With a built-in framework and course Authoring Tools, the Instructional Designer can design, develop and evaluate online courses in one platform.



1. Instructional Design Models

2. Kemp Design Model

3. The Dick and Carey Model - 1978

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