Master of Education in Distance Education (MDDE) 604

Instructional Design in Distance Education

Course cover

Delivery Mode: Grouped study using Moodle

Credits: 3 - Core Course

Prerequisite: MDDE 601, MDDE 602 for MEd program students only. MDDE 603 for all students.

Availability: All terms

Early access to the Moodle Learning Management System begins a few days before the official start date of your course. At that time you will have limited course access.


MDDE 604: Instructional Design in Distance Education is a project-based course that introduces instructional design principles and explores their application in a realistic way. Step by step, you will work through the various stages of the instructional systems design (ISD) process, designing and developing distance learning materials. In the role of instructional designer, you will systematically create a unit of instruction or learning object that meets an educational need or solves a performance problem you have identified.


MDDE 603 Foundations of Instructional Design: Systems Analysis and Learning Theory

MDDE 604 is more applied than most other core courses in the Master of Education in Distance Education program. As you design and develop the instructional unit that forms the basis of this course, you will apply the skills, knowledge, and concepts you were introduced to in MDDE 603: Foundations of Instructional Design: Systems Analysis and Learning Theory.

Course Outline

The course is divided into seven units:

  • Unit 1: Introduction to ISD
  • Unit 2: The Analysis Phase
  • Unit 3: Goal Analysis, Learning Outcomes & Student Assessment
  • Unit 4: The Design Phase
  • Unit 5: Development & Implementation
  • Unit 6: Formative & Summative Evaluation
  • Unit 7: The Future of and Alternatives to ISD

Learning Resources


Registration in this course includes an electronic textbook. For more information on electronic textbooks, please refer to our eText Initiative site.

Smith, P. L. & Ragan, T. J. (2005). Instructional design (3rd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Jossey-Bass Education.

A print version of the eText may be available for purchase from the publisher through a direct-to-student link provided on the course website; you can also acquire the textbook on your own if you wish.

Other Materials

Online Study Guide and course readings.

Student Assessment

Your final course mark will be based on five assignments and participation in the computer conferences.

Activity Weighting
Assignment 1: In the first part of this assignment, you will complete the analysis stage of the instructional systems design process. This includes a needs assessment plan, in which you will identify an educational need or performance problem that could be resolved by instruction, as well as the identification of an instructional unit or learning object that will address this need. The second part of Assignment 1 asks you to develop an initial proposal for a unit of instruction that would solve this instructional problem. 20%
Assignment 2: In this assignment, you will develop the design specifications for your unit of instruction. This assignment is worth 10% of your course mark. 15%
Assignment 3: In this assignment, you will review a fellow class member’s unit of instruction, work through it from a learner-centred perspective, and provide feedback on how it could be improved. This assignment is worth 10% of your course mark. 17%
Assignment 4: In the final assignment, you will complete your instructional unit and discuss considerations pertaining to instructional design as well as revisions, student assessment, and delivery. This assignment is worth 40% of your course mark. 35%
Course Participation: There are three required small group conferences, (two by computer and one by telephone) which together make up the remaining 15% of the course mark. 13%
Optional Activity: To encourage the creation of a collaborative learning community, you may elect to participate in the exchange and critique of a classmate's assignments. Up to 5%
Total 100%

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.