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Instructional Design   |   Course Development   |   Models & Theories   |   Tools   |   References

Instructional Design

wikipedia logo Instructional design, also known as instructional systems design, is the analysis of learning needs and systematic development of instruction. Instructional designers often use instructional technology as a method for developing instruction. Instructional design models typically specify a method, that if followed will facilitate the transfer of knowledge, skills and attitude to the recipient or acquirer of the instruction.

CII buildingReference Guide
This reference guide from IEEE was designed to help you apply sound principles of design to the creation of your courses. The overview presented here is based on the model developed by Dick and Carey which provides a systematic, step-by-step approach to designing (and then improving) effective and objectives-based instruction. You can either navigate HTML pages, or download the PDF version.

Instructional Design in Elearning
By George Siemens
This article explores ID in terms of: definitions, models, and usage. Like many models, ID is simply naming a process that many instructors and course developers already utilize.

Putting your Course On-Line - Instructional Design in a nutshell
This module is designed to help you think about taking your traditional course and making it ready for "distance delivery."

Rapid Instructional Design
summary of Piskurich’s “Rapid Instructional Design” book.

Teaching Tips Index
A wealth of information put together by Honolulu Community College that covers all the various stages of developing instruction.

A Teacher's Guide to Distance Learning
Aimed at K-12 teachers, this introduction to distance learning technologies and planning considerations can be used by all who are designing online instruction.

User-Centered Design
User-Centered Design is a well established process that has been widely adopted by many organizations to deliver products that meet users' expectations.

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Course Development

RPI faculty who are looking at integrating WebCT or emerging technologies into their face-to-face classroom or are involved in teaching distributed courses for the EWP program can benefit from the support of the Course Development team. Through one-on-one consultations, brown bag sessions, workshops, and seminars the course developers have been providing support to faculty since 2001.

CD Team Course Development at RPI
Nadeen Thompson
Assistant Director for Course Development
Personal Page

Marie-Pierre Huguet
Course Developer

Professional areas of interest: instructional design, technology integration, faculty development, blended/hybrid instruction and design, research in educational issues.
Personal Page

The Myth of the Superhuman Professor
Felder, Richard
Consider the universal vision of the professor of the 90's. She does pioneering research in a critical area and brings in big bucks to support the research, including several six-figure NSF grants and 60% release time. She publishes 5-10 papers each year in the most prestigious journals in her field and is a shoo-in for the National Academy. She is a dedicated and stimulating instructor and wins teaching awards at her university and nationally. She does more than her fair share of the tedious but vital service chores that no one wants to do and does them excellently. She is mostly imaginary. The classical academic fantasy is that every professor should resemble this combination of Leonardo, Socrates, and Mother Teresa, but the reality is that very few can pull it off - certainly not enough to populate every engineering department.

A Review of What Instructional Designers Do: Questions Answered and Questions Not Asked
Richard F. Kenny, Zuochen Zhang Richard A. Schwier, Katy Campbell
The purpose of this literature review was to determine what evidence there is that instructional designers apply ID Models, as well as to establish what other activities and processes they might use in their professional activities. Only ten articles were located that directly pertained to this topic: seven reporting on empirical research and three case descriptions recounting development experiences. All ten papers pertained to process-based ID models. Results showed that, while instructional designers apparently do make use of process-based ID models, they do not spend the majority of their time working with them nor do they follow them in a rigid fashion. They also engage in a wide variety of other tasks that are not reflected in ID models.

How Expert Designers Design
Paul Kirschner, Chad Carr, Jeroen van Merriënboer, Peter Sloep
Two studies were carried out with expert educational designers at Arthur Andersen and the Open University of the Netherlands to determine the priorities they employed when designing competence-based learning environments. Designers in a university context and in a business context agree almost completely on what principles are important, the most important being that one should start a design enterprise from the needs of the learners, instead of the content structure of the learning domain. The main difference between the two groups is that university designers find it extremely important to consider alternative solutions during the whole design process; something that is considerably less important by business designers. University designers also tend to focus on the project plan and the desired characteristics of the instructional blueprint whereas business designers were much more client-oriented and stressed the importance of “buying in” the client early in the process.

The Myth about Online Course Development “A Faculty Member Can Individually Develop and Deliver an Effective Online Course'
Diana G. Oblinger & Brian L. Hawkins
Developing and delivering effective online courses requires pedagogy and technology expertise possessed by few faculty. Consider pedagogy, for example. Good pedagogy implies that the instructor can develop targeted learning objectives. Online instruction is more than a series of readings posted to a Web site; it requires deliberate instructional design that hinges on linking learning objectives to specific learning activities and measurable outcomes. Few faculty have had formal education or training in instructional design or learning theory. To expect them to master the instructional design needed to put a well-designed course online is probably unrealistic. A more effective model is to pair a faculty member with an instructional designer so that each brings unique skills to the course-creation process.

An Instructional Designer: A Leading Role or A Supporting Role?
Sam Pan, Jennifer Deets, & William Phillips
This directed qualitative research project was concentrated on an instructional designer’s (ID) personal practical theories (PPTs) and their relationships to his effectiveness as an ID. The participant-observer researcher collected multiple kinds of data: observation field notes, interviews, surveys, written documents, publications, e-mail correspondence, and videotapes. The researcher hopes to present a vivid portrait of an ID and to provide insights into the profession as lived in a southeastern university setting. Implications and significance of the case study are also addressed.

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Nadeen Thompson and MP Huguet

Models and Theories of Instructional Design

wikipedia logo There are many good instructional design models that are customized to meet specific needs. The ADDIE model is a commonly used approach that can be effective in almost every learning or teaching situation. The ADDIE model is the generic process traditionally used by instructional designers and training developers. The five phases—Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation—represent a dynamic, flexible guideline for building effective training and performance support tools.

Most of the current instructional design models are spin-offs or variations of the ADDIE model; other models include the Dick & Carey and Kemp ISD models. One commonly accepted improvement to this model is the use of rapid prototyping. This is the idea of receiving continual or formative feedback while instructional materials are being created. This model attempts to save time and money by catching problems while they are still easy to fix. Instructional theories also play an important role in the design of instructional materials. Theories such as behaviorism, constructivism, social learning and cognitivism help shape and define the outcome of instructional materials.

Useful sites:
Bid Dog’s ISD page
Although this is yet another guide to instructional design, it provides very detailed guidance for all the different stages of designing effective instruction, including student learning styles.

Instructional Design Models
A complete and exhaustive list of instructional design theories.

Instructional Design Theories
Review of eight commonly used models organized in a table. For each, a visual is provided as well as, similarities and differences, and key components and unique characteristics.

A hypertext history of Instructional Design
A very rich site that outlines the major influences on instructional design and provides a historical background and resources about the field.

Why do teachers get to learn the most?
Anderson, T., & Wark, N.
A common report from anecdotal writing over many generations of educators is that it is the teacher who usually learns the most during the process of gathering content materials, designing, teaching and evaluating student performance. In this project we address this issue by developing an innovative instructional design in which collaborative groups of students working at distance create, share and assess learning content (in the form of learning objects) with their peers through online learning portals. The results of this process are assessed via surveys, discussions, reflective essays and peer evaluations. We conclude that instructional models based upon student construction of content and orchestration of learning activities can reduce instructor workload, provide opportunity for students to acquire new skills while increasing their subject content knowledge, and create a lasting legacy of re-usable learning objects.

Chris Moore and Nadeen ThompsonTheory into Practice: How Do We Link?
Anglin, G.
The field of Instructional Systems Technology (IST) prides itself on being an eclectic field, Dewey's proverbial "linking science" between theories of the behavioral and cognitive sciences and instructional practice. This view of the relationship between theory and the field of IST takes the perspective that it is appropriate to select principles and techniques from the many theoretical perspectives in much the same way we might select international dishes from a smorgasbord, choosing those we like best and ending up with a meal which represents no nationality exclusively and a design technology based on no single theoretical base. That is, the primary strategy for providing this "link" between theory and practice has been to collect concepts and strategies suggested by the theories and make them available to the practitioners. The concepts and ostrategies are abstracted out of their theoretical framework, placed within a practitioner's framework, and grouped based on their relevance to a particular instructional design task (i.e., positioned in some form of a general systems model). In the case of instructional concepts and strategies, these are grouped based on their relevance to the particular learning goal, category of learning, or performance objective.

The Attack on ISD
Gordon, J. & Zemke, R.
Stripped to its shorts, ISD is essentially the ADDIE model of instructional design (for Assess, Design, Develop, Instruct, Evaluate) Volumes have been written about the proper ways to carry out each step in that model. Over the years, corporations, government agencies and different branches of the military have adopted fiendishly complex ISD guidelines for designers to follow, complete with forms, checklists and diagrams of staggering complexity. The “ISD system” in a large organization can occupy several hefty binders—and no two systems are exactly alike. Which, perhaps, is just as well. The current attack on ISD springs in part from a growing conviction that the harder you try to specify exactly what the designer must do in order to be “doing ISD,” the further into the wilderness you wander. That way lies madness.

A model of Web Based Design for Learning
Hall, R.H., Watkins, S.E. & Eller, V.E.
In this chapter, we review a model that serves as a framework for the design of web-based learning environments. The model consists of seven basic components: directionality, usability, consistency, interactivity, multi-modality, adaptability, and accountability. We propose that effective design begins with a clear delineation of the intended audience, usage context, and learning goals and that all further design occurs within the context of these factors (i.e., directionality). The design factors themselves can be seen as representing the fundamental contrasting goals of simplicity (usability and consistency) and complexity (interactivity, multi-modality, and adaptability). We propose that effective design consists of the proper balance of simplicity and complexity. We also introduce a method we refer to as “progressive complexity”, which is one potential method of achieving such a balance effectively, by offering the user a systematic set of options. Finally, design should include an evaluation component (accountability), which should in turn impact design modification via feedback. Evaluation, within this model, consists of learner variables, experimental methodology, outcomes, and measures. We review research that relates to the components of the framework, and also pose recommendations for development.

A Pebble-in-the-PondModel For InstructionalDesign
M. David Merrill
Instructional systems development (ISD) has recently come under attack to suggestions that it may not be an appropriate methodology for developing effective instruction (Gordon & Zemke, 2000). ISD is accused of being too slow and clumsy, of claiming to be a technology when it is not, of producing bad instruction, and of being out of touch with today’s training needs. Someone said, “It is a bad craftsman that blames his tools.” It should be obvious to the thoughtful observer that the problem may be the implementation of ISD, not a systematic approach itself.

A Maturity Model: Does It Provide a Path for Online Course Design?
Charlotte Neuhauser
Maturity models are successfully used by organizations attempting to improve their processes, products, and delivery. As more faculty include online course design and teaching, a maturity model of online course design may serve as a tool in planning and assessing their courses for improvement based on best practices. This article presents such a maturity model.

The Future Role of Robert M. Gagné In Instructional Design
Richey, R. C.
Instructional Technology is a field that has grown from two separate knowledge bases and two related areas of practical concern. Its original roots were in the study and construction of visual aids as teaching devices. This line of thinking is consistent with the current fascination with computers and their role in the delivery of instruction. The field’s second major line of intellectual heritage emanated from instructional psychology, and provides the bases for many principles of instructional design theory and practice. Gagné has been a central figure in this infusion of psychology into the field, and indeed in the “creation” of the domain of instructional design. Today, the bulk of the research and theory in Instructional Technology is concentrated in the design domain (Seels & Richey, 1994).

Teacher-designers: How teachers use instructional design in real classrooms
Rogers , P.L.
From filmstrips and mimeographs, to computer-based simulations and virtual reality, technology seems to dominate teachers’ lives as they master the new instructional media for use in their classrooms. Good teaching and learning practices tend to take a back seat while the focus on mastery of the technology reduces teaching into basic presentations and lectures, a format most easily controlled by the instructor. While most pre-K-12 and post-secondary instructors do develop effective courses in which students learn, many would be hard pressed to describe how they arrive at certain goals and teaching strategies. The field of instructional design provides sound practices and models that, once modified for use by working teachers, can be used to design effective instruction in any content area (Rogers, 2002).

Frank Wright and MP HuguetInteractive learning as an "emerging" technology: A reassessment of interactive and instructional design strategies
Roderick C.H. Sims
This paper challenges the assumptions and accepted practices used in the design and development of interactive learning resources. Through an assessment of accepted assumptions and the pitfalls inherent in instructional design it is debated whether technology can effectively replicate the adaptability and flexibility of human communication. It is proposed that interactive technology is only now emerging as a viable alternative, requiring not only a new approach to the presentation of interactive materials but also an integrated methodology which is relevant to the tools and practices of today.

The Sharp Edge of the Cube: Pedagogically Driven Instructional Design for Online Education
Nishikant Sonwalkar
Pedagogy can be defined as the method by which educational content is exposed to learners. There are more than 300 different pedagogical strategies that have been proposed to define the underlying cognitive process. Activist, constructivist, reflective, incidental, apprenticeship, inductive, deductive, collaborative—these are just a few pedagogical theories that are widely debated.

Constructivism, Instructional Design, and Technology: Implications for Transforming Distance Learning
Maureen Tam
This paper examines the characteristics and value of designed instruction grounded in the constructivist theory. It also attempts to connect the theory to the prevailing technology paradigms to establish an alignment between pedagogical and technological considerations in support of the assumptions arising from constructivism. Distance learning provides a unique context in which to infuse constructivist principles where learners are expected to function as self-motivated, self-directed, interactive, collaborative participants in their learning experiences by virtue of their physical location. Hence, the aim of this paper is to provide a clear link between the theoretical principles of constructivism, the construction of technology-supported learning environments, and the practice of distance education. The questions driving the argument in this paper include: What do constructivist perspectives offer instructional design and practice? What do computing technologies offer? And what do the two afford in combination? In particular, how do the two combine to transform distance learning from a highly industrialized mass production model to one that emphasizes subjective construction of knowledge and meaning derived from individual experiences.

Maintaining The Ties Between Learning Theory And Instructional Design
Brent G. Wilson
This paper was prompted by recent discussion among instructional designers suggesting that instructional design (ID) may be able to stand quite independent of its learning-theory foundations. Two conference papers deserve mention. Tripp (1994) argued that instructional theory need not be tied to any particular learning theory; indeed, instructional theory could be derived directly from observation of successful instructional practice. In another panel presentation, Dick (1994) discussed changes he was incorporating into his popular text in instructional design (Dick & Carey, 1990). These changes incorporated certain procedures and steps--e.g., analyses of the environment and the performance context) but avoided learning theory. The differences between different learning theories were seen to be irrelevant to the basic practice of instructional design.

Dynamic learning communities: An alternative to designed instructional systems
Wilson , B., & Ryder, M.
This paper is our initial effort to outline the concept of a dynamic learning community as an alternative to teacher-controlled or pre-designed instructional systems. We argue that dynamic learning communities constitute an important alternative to specifically designed instructional systems, and that communication technologies can serve to support learning communities in their efforts. We present below an outline of our current thinking. For future papers, we intend to gather more examples or case reports concerning specific learning communities.

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wikipedia logo A tool is a device that provides an advantage in accomplishing a task. It can be an object, a process, a methodology, an ability, as well as a piece of software. A tool can also be purely cognitive, such as a written language.


Visio 2007 is a Microsoft diagramming program that can help you create a variety of diagrams and flowcharts that document and organize complex ideas, processes, and systems. These enable you to visualize and communicate information clearly, concisely, and effectively in ways that text and numbers cannot.
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Inspired by the renowned "mind mapping" study technique, Visual Mind improves ability to learn and help students clarify thought processes. Utilizing the mind’s ability to understand and remember visual information is a key element in the mind mapping technique.
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Instructional Tools :
Media Creation Tools

This page, from the Instructional Tools section of this site, offers a wide variety of resources and tutorials on how to create instructional media with the most commonly used tools: PowerPoint, Flash, Captivate and Camtasia, and PDF.
Link to page

Graphic Tools
This page, from the Instructional Tools section of this site, provides guidance on which tool to chose to create, edit, and organize graphics: MS Paint, ACDSee, and PhotoShop.
Link to page

HTML Editors
This page, from the Instructional Tools section of this site, not only lists HTML tutorials for the beginning and advanced designers it also recommends several HTML editors: TopStyle, Mozilla, Trellian, Web Notepad, PSPad editor, DreamWeaver, and FrontPage.
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Accessibilty Tools
This page, from the Instructional Tools section of this site, will be valuable to designers who want to make sure their Web pages are ADA compliant, and to users looking for accessibility resources.
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Alessi, S. M., & Trollip, S. R. (2000). Multimedia for learning: Methods and development. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

CII and bridgeAnderson, L. W., & Krathwohl, D. R. (2000). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom's Taxonomy of educational objectives. New York: Longman.

Biggs, J. (2003). Teaching for Quality Learning at University. Buckingham, The Society for Research into Higher Education

Briggs, L. J., Gustafson, K. L., & Tillman, M. H. (Eds.). (1991). Instructional design: principles and applications. New York: Educational Technology publications.

Clark, R. &d Mayer, R. (2003) e-Learning and the Science of Instruction, San Francisco, CA, Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer.

Dick, W., & Carey, L. (1996). The Systematic Design of Instruction. New York: Haper Collins College Publishers.

Driscoll, M. (2002). Web-Based Training: Creating e-Learning Experiences. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-

Gagne, al. (1992) Principles of Instructional Design. New York, NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers.

Gustafson , K. (1997). Survey of Instructional Development Models. Syracuse, NY: ERIC Clearinghouse on Information & Technology.

Hassell-Corbiell, R. (2001). Developing Training Courses: A Technical Writer’s Guide to Instructional Design and Development, Learning Edge Publishing, Tacoma, WA.

Kaufman, R. (1991). Strategic Planning Plus An organizational guide. Scott Foresman.

Kemp, J. (1999). Designing Effective Instruction. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Kirkpatrick, D. (1994). Evaluating Training Programs. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koebler Publishers.

Mager, Robert. (1988). Making Instruction Work, Belmont, CA: Lake Publishing Co.

Morrison, G. R., Ross, S. M., & Kemp, J. E. (2001). Designing effective instruction. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Palloff, R., & Pratt, K. (2001). Lessons from the cyberspace classroom: the realities of online teaching. San
Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Nadeen Thompson Chris MoorePiskurich, G. (2000). Rapid Instructional Design. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Pfeiffer.

Reigeluth, C. M. (Ed.) (1999). Instructional-Design Theories and Models, Volume II: A New Paradigm of Instructional Theory. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc.

Schank, R. C. (2002). Designing world-class e-learning. How IBM, GE, Harvard Business School, and Columbia University are succeeding at e-learning. New York: McGraw Hill.

Shambaugh R., & Magliaro S. (1997). Mastering the Possibilities – A Process Approach to Instructional Design. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Smith, P. L., & Ragan, T. J. (2005). Instructional design. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Woolfolk, A. (1990) Educational Psychology, Fourth Edition. New Jersey, USA: Prentice Hall.

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Last updated - 03/18/08

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