Master of Education in Distance Education (MDDE) 619

Trends and Issues in Instructional Design

Course cover

Delivery Mode: Online course using Moodle

Credits: 3 - Elective

Prerequisite: MDDE 601, MDDE 602 for MEd program students only

Availability: Fall Only

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 619 Trends and Issues in Instructional Design examines a number of trends and issues relating to the actual, every day practice of instructional design (ID). Students will examine published ID competencies and consider how they match with published ID job descriptions, as well as debate these points with practicing instructional designers. The role of instructional designers as change agents in educational contexts is also addressed. Students will examine what constitutes good ID practice and apply one or more current models to actual distance education development projects. Finally the application of Universal Design principles to the design of distance education context. Courses and learning environments will be explored.


MDDE 604, Instructional Design in Distance Education or the equivalent or permission of the instructor.

Course Goals

The course is based on the following goals:

  1. Outline the components of selected instructional design theories and critically analyze their application in a variety of distance education situations.
  2. Discuss common criticisms and controversy related to the use of established instructional design models.
  3. Describe models or approaches that have been proposed as alternatives to traditional instructional design.
  4. Discuss future trends in instructional design.
  5. Synthesize a variety of instructional frameworks and describe their application in a variety of instructional design contexts.
  6. Discuss and explain the importance of creating supportive learning environments for effective student support in distance education applications.
  7. Analyze moral and ethical implications of instructional choices in the design of teaching and learning in distance education contexts.

Course Outline

The course consists of six units:

  • Unit 1: The Definition of Instructional Design
  • Unit 2: The Professional Practice of Instructional Design
  • Unit 3: Instructional Design Models and Approaches – Alternative Viewpoints
    1. Designing for Direct Instruction
    2. Holistic Design for Complex Learning
    3. Constructivist Models of Design
    4. Applying Learning Theory and Motivation in Instructional Design
  • Unit 4: Universal Instructional Design and Accessibility Issues
  • Unit 5: Instructional Design and Change Agency
    1. The Process of Change
    2. Instructional Design in Varying Contexts
    3. The Instructional Designer as a Change Agent
  • Unit 6: The Future of ISD

Learning Resources 


Council for Exceptional Children (2005). Universal design for learning: A guide for teachers and educational professionals. Arlington, VA: Pearson Education.

Reiser, R. A. & Dempsey, J. V. (2011). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, (eText).

Other Resources

Online Study Guide and readings.

Student Assessment

Your final course mark will be based on three assignments and course participation.

Activity Credit Weight
Assignment 1: Write a short paper describing how an instructional design job advertisement, written position description, or reported daily requirements of a practicing instructional designer compares with published instructional design competencies. Conclude the paper with a revised position description. 20%
Assignment 2 : In this collaborative group activity, you will apply a selected instructional design approach from the readings or other research to the development of an assigned Athabasca University case (or other course of your choice) and develop a set of instructional design recommendations and/or a blueprint for a technology-supported learning environment to solve the case design problem. 50%
In Assignment 3: Write a paper discussing the application of Universal Design principles and other accessibility issues associated with the design and delivery of distance learning materials. Assess an Athabasca University course (or other course with which you are familiar) to illustrate the application of these principles. 20%
Course Participation: Active participation in forum discussions. 10%
Total 100%

Note: details of assignments are posted on-line at the commencement of the course.

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.