Training Outline – Designing Instructional Materials

Use or adapt this outline to offer your own Designing Instructional Materials workshop.


  • Introduce yourself, tell a story about an experience you have had with designing instruction.
  • Identify the expected outcomes for the training.
  • Identify the opportunity to network, learn from others, and share ideas.
  • State the goal is to walk away with 2-3 new ideas.
  • Set ground rules: Share ideas, respect ideas of others, ask questions, have fun.
  • Round Robin: Have everyone give their name, share what they do, and something they want to learn?
  • Discussion: What are some technology class topics that you might need to design instruction for?

Don’t reinvent the wheel

  • Explain that just because you are designing instruction, doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch.
  • Talk about types of instructional materials that can be used: Handouts, activity sheets, tutorials, videos, lesson plans, manuals, slideshows.
  • Talk about criteria for evaluating instructional materials: quality, currency, and coverage.
  • Talk about permissions, copyright, and how to locate instructional materials that can be reused or adapted.
  • Brainstorm places where instructional materials can be found (like WebJunction, Tech Soup, etc.)
  • Bring sample instructional materials for review, or have participants locate materials and review them online (may require more time)

The Instructional Design Process

  • Define the process of instructional design in your own terms, and use an analogy to compare it to a completely different creative design process.
  • Identify the five stages of the ADDIE process and briefly explain them:
    • Analyze the needs of the learner
    • Design the learning objectives
    • Develop instructional materials and content
    • Implement the material by delivering training
    • Evaluate the materials and delivery
  • Handout: Have everyone review the Sample Instructional Outline and Instructional Design Process Worksheet
  • Discussion: What step is most important? What step is most easily forgotten?

Analyze Needs

  • Discuss why it is important to analyze needs before developing a class. Why develop this class? Do people need/want it? What is the goal of having the class? Who is the target audience?
  • Go over ideas for collecting feedback about what classes people need/want.
    • In-house:
      “Class idea sheet” clipboard or other method
      Collect patron surveys, staff input.
      Keep track of the types of questions you answer one on one.
    • Online: Google forms or survey monkey
    • Outreach: survey target audiences or general public
    • Look at current community surveys or needs assessments.
    • Look to strategic plan for guidance.

Designing Learning Objectives

  • Learning objectives define the skills & knowledge that should be learned, and the outcomes of the training.
    • KFD principle: What do you want people to know, feel, and do?
  • Discuss using active words related to the learning process, see handout for examples from Bloom’s Taxonomy.
  • Learning objectives should SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time sensitive.
  • Handout: Have everyone review the Learning Objectives Verb List.
  • Handout: Give everyone the Learning Objectives Word Search to take home and complete. Words in puzzle correlate to Learning Objectives Verb List. Word puzzle created for free through Discover Education.
  • Practice: Have students practice creating SMART learning objectives for a sample class using active verbs and the KFD principle.

Developing an outline

  • Refer back to the Sample Instructional Outline from earlier.
  • Talk about the reasons for creating an outline for a class. Compare it to having a road map – it is always good to plan your route, but you can always change it along the way.
  • Link outline to objectives by creating “chunks” of content. This allows for flexibility, and keeps the design focused on the outcomes. Chunks can easily be rearranged and altered. This is just one way to do it.
  • When planning out content, take different learning styles into account, include different delivery techniques. Try to include some type of interactivity in each chunk, whether it is practice, discussion, or problem solving.
  • Adapt existing content (remember, don’t reinvent the wheel!), including videos, websites, and information.
  • Handout: Have everyone review the Active Training Techniques worksheet. If time allows, give them a chance to brainstorm or discuss how they might incorporate active training techniques into a workshop.

Instructional Outline Activity

  • Part 1 (10 minutes): Work individually to come up with at least one learning objective for your class. Then get into small groups and share your learning objectives. Discuss the learning objectives you came up with. How did you choose the verb? Are the objectives SMART?
  • Part 2 (10 minutes): Work individually to outline at least one learning objective for your class. Then get into pairs and share your learning objectives. Discuss the activities and delivery methods you chose. Why did you choose them? Do they address multiple learning styles?
  • Part 3 (10 minutes): Share

Develop: Creating Effective Handouts

  • Discuss (have students brainstorm) why handouts are helpful to learning: note taking, provides important information, helps instructor prepare, addresses different learning styles, can include activities, gives students a guide to refer back to later, etc.
  • Discuss things to include in handouts: contact info, blank space, activities, discussion questions, practice exercises, important information, reference sheets, additional resources, images, charts, diagrams
  • Go over basic design tips. Remind everyone you do not have to be a graphic designer, but to keep things simple.
    • Only use one font, never more than 3
    • Use a legible font size
    • Use color, but use it tastefully
    • Resize graphics correctly
    • Don’t put too much information
  • Talk about sharing materials with colleagues. If you put all that time into creating a handout, at least others can use it too.
  • Group work: Take a handout example and discuss. What is good about it? How could you improve it? What would you do differently?
  • Practice (longer activity, 10-15 minutes): Use computers (Publisher or Word) to start designing a single page handout as a group. What do you need to include? What is the best way to lay out the handout? Make sure everyone contributes in some way.

Evaluating, reviewing, revising

  • Note: We skip the “I” in ADDIE – I is for implementation, which is covered in another workshop (Teaching Technology: Classroom Instruction)
  • Discuss why evaluations are important: Did you get your point across? Did you meet the objectives of the class? Help measure success.
  • Always good to ask for feedback at the end of class, and an evaluation allows people to do that anonymously.
  • When designing surveys, try to have a mix of qualitative and quantitative questions. Most surveys just gauge people’s satisfaction, but you can also create surveys that tie to learning objectives of the class to see if people learned something new.
  • Use survey results to improve future classes, but don’t take one really bad review to seriously. Sometimes you just have a really negative person in your class. Compare the results to your perception of how the class went, and use it as a guide to improve your teaching skills.
  • It is also important to review the class material before teaching again, to adapt to changes in technology, or to improve the class. Make sure handouts are up to date as well. Did the original class have too much information? Too little? Was it too difficult or too easy?
  • Handout: Participant Feedback Form Example


  • Review key points
  • Q&A
  • Activity: Have participants write down the three most important things they learned that they will put into practice.