EDU623 Blog Post #3, or “Why are learning outcomes so hard to write?!?!?”

Short answer? Because you’ve gotta know what the hell your students need to know. See, teaching them stuff is all well and good, but the point behind teaching anyone is to be able to measure if they’ve learned anything. That’s where a good set of learning outcomes – a measurable set of learning outcomes is vital.

“But Erica,” you’re probably asking, “how does one write good learning outcomes?” A few years ago, I probably would’ve said “I dunno, just wing it.” Now, though, it’s different, because I know what learning outcomes are supposed to have.


I mean, you *could* pluck them out of thin air, but that’s not gonna do what you want it to do. No, you start with Bloom’s Taxonomy. And if you don’t know what that is, that’s okay because we’re gonna talk about it!

Bloom’s Taxonomy is essentially a way to classify different types and levels of learning. The graphic down below shows the hierarchy of it all:


Much like any other pyramid, Bloom’s Taxonomy has a hierarchy, meaning that learning at the higher levels is dependent on having mastered the knowledge and skills at the lower levels (Halawi, McCarthy, & Pires, 2009). While utilizing Bloom’s taxonomy is important across the board, it is almost especially important in regards to online learning, because it’s really difficult to truly verify what online students know compared to face-to-face students.

So how do we do it? I’ll tell you, my general way of going about it is to figure out what I want students to know. In regards to my project for EDU623, I’m designing a history class focused on the Civil War and Reconstruction, so my learning outcomes need to reflect that. What do I want students to know? What do I want students to be able to do? Some of it is going to be rote memorization – they’ll need to know certain people and dates and pieces of legislation. Those tasks fall under the bottom two pieces of this pyramid. But students also need to be able to pull apart an argument, as well as formulate their own argument and support that argument with primary source evidence. That means they need to be able to analyze and understand primary source evidence, and figure out where that evidence fits into the great scheme of the Civil War.

To be honest, students taking this class are going to have a lot of things to do and learn. And I’m never 100% sure how to phrase these things – how do I adequately talk about what I want students to know how to do at the end?


Bloom’s Taxonomy Action Verbs

Action verbs, that’s how! See, the beauty of Bloom’s taxonomy is that each level has verbs that correspond to them, meaning that if you want a student to know something at the lower levels, you’re looking at things like “identify” and “define” and “explain,” and at the higher levels, you’re looking at “defend” and “argue” and “synthesize.”

Action verbs are wonderful things that should be used in every learning outcome. Otherwise, what the hell are your students learning? And how would you know either way?



Halawi, L. A., McCarthy, R. V., & Pires, S. (2009). An evaluation of e-learning on the basis of Bloom’s taxonomy: An exploratory study. Journal of Education for Business, 84(6), 374-380. doi:10.3200/JOEB.84.6.374-380

EDU623 Blog Post #2, or “Why do we care about design?”

I mean, yeah I get that it’s “instructional design” but we don’t really need to worry about the “design” portion of this whole thing….right?


Turns out, I’m half right. Though my project isn’t likely to use the ADDIE model of instructional design, “design” is the next step, and it’s not just about the curriculum or the material. Turns out, design is also about what it looks like.

Now, I’ll be honest, I don’t know how much I care about what the class looks like outside of “is it navigatable? Can the students find what they need to find? Yes? Then why do I care about colors?” Personally, I will die on this hill. To me, the visual design of the course isn’t nearly as important as what goes into it.

It turns out, though, that I’m alone on that hill. There are numerous articles that talk about why visual design is an important part of the design phase of instructional design. Apparently, good visual design affects the way that students learn and how they see and perceive course content. Nokes and Sappintgon (2010) tells us that “more than 80 percent of the information our brains process is visual, so the conclusions we draw about the validity of information are influenced by how the information is presented” (p. 31).


Well okay then. The “Design” portion of instructional design, whether we’re talking about the ADDIE model or the ASSURE model (which is the one I’m likely to use for this project moving forward), is a required piece, and it’s not just about what it looks like (thankfully for me). With the ADDIE model, the “Design” phase is also about deciding what is going into the course – that is more up my alley, to be right honest. Kurt (2017) gives a list of guidelines to help with this, including the types of media and resources to use, what kinds of activities, and do those activities mesh with different learning styles, for example. These are all required components of instructional design. In the ASSURE model, these questions are still asked, just in a different way. The second “S” in ASSURE stands for “select strategies, technology, media, and materials” – this is where you select what you’re going to use and how you’re going to use it. That strikes me as more of the instruction in instructional design (Kurt, 2015). Many of the questions are the same, for sure, but the way the instructional designer thinks about those questions is different.

So how do we connect these two pieces? How do we put everything in that we want to put in and make sure students still learn it?

I….don’t have an answer for you…yet. But I will. Eventually.


Kurt, S. (2015). ASSURE: Instructional Design Model. Educational Technology. Retrieved from

Kurt, S. (2017). ADDIE Model: Instructional Design. Educational Technology. Retrieved from

Nokes, J., & Sappington, E. (2010). At first sight: Improving your training with good visual design. T+D, 64(8), 31-33.


EDU623 Blog Post #1, or “The one about the models”

And here we are again – another class, another four-part series about instructional design! Today, we’ll be discussing various instructional design models!

I KNOW you can’t!!!

The O.G. model in instructional design is the ADDIE model. ADDIE stands for “Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation”, and is a fairly straightforward method of instructional design. It’s less linear in that, once you’re done with one section, it doesn’t mean you can’t go back to it. In that way, it’s iterative – steps can (and should) be repeated as necessary (Larson & Lockee, 2014). Most instructional design models are based in ADDIE, which was originally developed for the United States Army, and later implemented across all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces (Kurt, 2017).

So here’s your basic, quick and dirty rundown:

Courtesy of

In your analysis stage, you’re figuring out what your goals are, who your audience is, what they know already (to make sure you’re not boring them with stuff they already know), and what you want them to know when they’re done. In the design phase, you’re…well…designing the course – the learning objectives, content, lessons, assignments, technology, etc. Your development stage has you building and testing the course to make sure it works. In the implementation phase, you’re putting it into practice, and in your evaluation phase, you’re figuring out whether it did what you set out to do. Now that is, obviously, the most simplistic way to put it. There are a lot of steps within those five steps (as you can see from the infographic above), and all of those steps (while I did make them linear here) have the ability to be evaluated and re-evaluated throughout the process. This is especially true in the “implementation” phase, as it’s here that instructional designs often redesign, update, and edit the course/training to make sure that it is (and can be) delivered effectively and efficiently (Kurt, 2017).

But why do we need models for instructional design? Can’t we just…you know….wing it? 


I mean…you *could*, but you’re not Annalise Keating, so I can’t imagine it’ll go very well. I don’t know about you, but I forgot what I ate for breakfast today, so remembering all of the things I need for building a course or training would be…challenging without some kind of scaffolding to help me. Beyond that, instructional design models help to ensure that learning outcomes are achieved (Kurt, Instructional Design Models and Theories, 2015). I mean, yeah, we could throw a whole bunch of things at the wall to see what sticks, but what sticks might not help students learn. That wastes our time and theirs.

If ADDIE as it stands is too much, there is a way to streamline the process – not everyone has the time or resources to finish all of the ADDIE pieces as they sit there, and others might not even realize how many pieces there ARE. Kurt (2017) lists a number of questions within each phase of the ADDIE model that instructional designers should answer.

There’s a reason ADDIE tends to be the go-to model for instructional designers. But if ADDIE isn’t your bag, hey that’s okay – there are a cubic butt-ton of others, and they come in all types! The Gerlach-Eli model, for example, focuses on systematic planning and is very linear in orientation; the Dick and Carey model has 10 steps and is ALSO super linear in orientation (Gustafson & Branch, 2002). The ASSURE model, however, is significantly *less* linear in orientation, but has a very structured scaffold to help the instructional designer…design.


As you can see above, there’s one more step here that isn’t in the ADDIE model, but it breaks down the steps to instructional design to make them a bit clearer. It’s very similar to ADDIE, but it’s also very systemic and gives a step by step process for planning a lesson and how one would utilize technology within that lesson.

For the purposes of my education context and project this term (which, once again, will likely be teaching streamers…..something, unless I go back to the past and do something history related), I think the ASSURE model will be the best option. It gives, for me, the most straightforward path, while reminding me about including technology and strategies – it leaves very little room for forgetting something vital, while still allowing the instructional designer to be flexible in what they’re doing. But everyone is different, and what works for me might not work for someone else. The good news is, because there are so many different instructional design models, there’s a lot of options to choose from.


Gustafson, K. L., & Branch, R. M. (2002). Survey of Instructional Development Models. Syracuse, NY: Eric Clearinghouse on Information and Technology. Retrieved from

Kurt, S. (2015, December 9). Instructional Design Models and Theories. Educational Technology. Retrieved from

Kurt, S. (2017, August 29). ADDIE Model: Instructional Design. Educational Technology. Retrieved from

Larson, M. B., & Lockee, B. B. (2014). Streamlined ID: A Practical Guide to Instructional Design. New York: Routledge.

The ADDIE Model Infographic. (2017). Retrieved from

The ASSURE Model. (n.d.). Retrieved March 6, 2019, from