Section 5: Designing Effective Instructional Strategies

Rich online environments require a wealth of interaction. Human interaction, skillfully designed into almost any learning environment, provides for the richest learning experiences that go beyond the simple acquisition of knowledge (Reiser & Dempsey, 2007, p. 293).


According to the University of Houston’s Online Learning Center (as cited by Gaytan and McEwen, 2007), “effective online instruction involves translating the unique benefits of face-to-face interaction to online activities” (p. 118). A well designed course is one that fosters student learning and interaction. Aligning course objectives, assessments, and instructional strategies will ensure a consistent course organization and promote learning. When these three elements are not aligned, it is likely students will criticize the exams did not cover class materials or faculty may feel the students did not master the material even though they passed the course (Carnegie Mellon, 2011).
Alignment is when (Carnegie Mellon, para 2):Alignment Objectives, Instructional Strategies, and Assessments

  1. Objectives articulate the knowledge and skills you want students to acquire by the end of the course
  2. Assessments allow the instructor to check the degree to which the students are meeting the learning objectives
  3. Instructional Strategies are chosen to foster student learning towards meeting the objectives

The focus of this section is the design and development of effective instructional strategies. Instructional strategies and learning activities are synonymous throughout this section. When appropriate, a single instructional strategy will cover one objective or a set of objectives, but most often a combination of instructional strategies is required to accomplish a single learning objective (Carnegie Mellon, “Articulate Your Learning Objectives”). Guidelines for constructing clear and measurable objectives are briefly reviewed in this section. Assessments which measure the objective has been met are the focus of section six.

Section 5.1 Learning Objectives

Section 5.2 Instructional Strategies