Designing for Learning Online (required)

The challenge… is to construct a learning environment that is simultaneously learner-centred, content-centred, community- centred, and assessment-centred. Teacher[s] can do this by developing a repertoire of online learning activities that are adaptable to diverse contextual and student needs.

Anderson (2008 -

Tools and Resources for Designing Learning Activities

This page provides a number of resources related to designing learning activities for the online learning environment.  You do not have to review all resources to complete this course.  They are provided for reference and review.  Check out some of the resources and bookmark the sources for later use.

Table of Contents (click each title to jump to that section on this page)

Instructional Design

Understanding by Design (UbD)

Understanding by Design Process

Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

UDL Resources

Getting Started with UDL

Instructional Design

  • The systematic process of transforming principles of learning and instruction into plans for delivery and the creation of learning materials (Smith & Ragan, 1999).
  • More than simply creating instruction – process of examining human performance and following a systematic approach to resolve a problem (Rothwell & Kazanas, 1998).

Course design consistency is created through

  • Organized information (chunking);
  • Higher level thinking;
  • Ease of navigation; and
  • Graphically pleasing interface.

Interactivity is created through

  • Student to instructor (private, public);
    • Examples – individual e-mails, comments in forums, feedback on assignments
  • Student to student (private, public); and
    • Examples – discussions, group projects, peer evaluation
  • Student to course materials.
    • Examples – self-checking quizzes, simulations, web searches, wikis


  • Check out the intro to ADDIE instructional design process (analyze, design, develop, implement, evaluate)
  • There are more videos posted in the series as well

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Understanding by Design (UbD)

Based on the work of Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, Understanding by Design (UbD) is “backwards design”; that is, it begins with the end in mind:

  • Design focus is on “big ideas” and targeted understandings;
  • Authentic assessments are incorporated that are fair and reliable;
  • Activities are selected that effectively engage the learner;
  • Desired results are clearly identified and stated;
  • Acceptable evidence for outcomes and results are described; and
  • A variety of learning activities are created to achieve desired results.

Watch the 4-minute video overview from Grant Wiggins:

Check out the one-page print resource describing UbD:

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Understanding by Design Process

Basic Stages of UbD

Stage 1: Identify desired results

  • Curriculum Goals
  • Learner Outcomes
  • Big Ideas
  • Essential Questions
  • Enduring Understandings
  • The "Know/ Understand/ Do"

Stage 2: Determine acceptable evidence

  • Formative Assessments
  • Summative Assessments

Stage 3: Plan learning experiences and instruction

  • Developing the Learning Plan
  • Consider how to differentiate

Download the UbD template and overview here:

Other resources for UbD can be found here:

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Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Watch the introduction video to UDL from CAST:

UDL includes:

  • Multiple means of representation
  • Multiple means of action & expression
  • Multiple means of engagement
  • “UDL is intended to increase access to learning by reducing physical, cognitive, intellectual, and organizational barriers to learning, as well as other obstacles.” (

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UDL Resources

CAST Resources -

  • A site designed to help teachers apply UDL principles
  • Use the site to design learning that reachs and engages all students
  • Learn about UDL, check your own lessons, and explore resources and ideas on how to build options and flexibility into each element of your online course
  • Check out the printed book or online version of "Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age" at the CAST website (
  • Requires the creation of a free account

SetBC Resources -

  • Information and resources created for the BC UDL Project - a Ministry funded initiative to assist pilot school districts in implementing principles of UDL that operated from September 2007 to June 2010
  • The site houses multiple resources and information for UDL

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Getting Started with UDL

    • For a really quick start, check out this video series from the National Centre on Universal Design for Learning ( (click play below for a quick view)
    • Hint: It is best to open and watch all videos directly on YouTube

Other UDL Resources to check out include:

Readings on Designing for Online Courses:

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Last modified: Thursday, 14 August 2014, 6:47 PM