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How to turn your face-to-face class into an online course [Part 2]

This post has been updated on January 23 2020.

In the previous post on this topic we looked at a few preparatory steps that you should take in order to prepare your objectives and plan for how the online course should work, and what it should achieve. In today’s post (the second in this three-part series) we will drill down further and look at instructional design models that are appropriate for K-12 curricula.

Instructional design is a behemoth of a subject; a simple online search reveals an overwhelming number of options. At this point it is helpful to point out that unlike most people designing an online course, K-12 teachers already have an established curriculum.

It also goes without saying that teachers do not always have the time available to study the vast field of instructional design, and my intention here is to support your process, rather than hinder it with what many of your students might call “TMI” (Too much information).

With that in mind I have decided to talk about just two of the most popular models, in the hope that it will affirm your journey toward creating an online course, rather than overwhelming it.

Instructional design models help you to visualize the learning path of your students and are useful to double check the steps you are creating online, ensuring your online course adheres to basic pedagogic theory.

Before we take the plunge one final comforting caveat: As a teacher you will recognize many of the steps as being logical, and they will come naturally. Additionally, we have already taken a number of steps recommended by instructional design in the preparatory steps detailed in the previous post.

Turning your F2F class into an online course: instructional design models

We will briefly explore two instructional design models. Hopefully this will give you some insight into how they differ, and conceptually what an instructional design model can add to the process of turning a F2F (face-to-face) class into an online course.


ADDIE is one the most prevalent design models, developed at Florida University in the 1970s. The name is in fact an acronym for the steps: Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation. As previously mentioned, you will already have covered much of the “A” phase in the preparatory questions. Should you wish to explore ADDIE in more depth we recommend starting here.


This is the phase where you understand your learner, your course objectives and any constraints the course might have to deal with. Additionally you can interrogate the technical environment of the course, the assessment criteria, the structure and delivery of the course material as well as the availability of resources.

Analysis in this way creates a rich bank of information that will feed the design and development stages.


The design phase is the nitty-gritty. Here teachers can layout all the existing course material into a logical flow, including additional resources you may want to include that are not practical to include in your F2F class. This is the phase where you also decide at what point in the course assessments will occur.

A useful tool is to ensure that at every learning stage or module you have the 4Ps: Preliminary activity, Presentation of materials, Practice, and Post-activity.


Here you will open up your course design to feedback and critique. Use your students and fellow teachers as sounding boards to further enhance the course, and test its logical flow, accessibility, number of resources and assessments.

This is a great opportunity to test the design, and to further develop it. This step can often involve prototypes of the course that you can test on students and get feedback on its usability, clarity and flow.


At this stage you will take the big leap and place your course into the online environment. Naturally this requires a lot of time, but don’t give up - remember you are creating a self-sustained environment for your F2F class - making it more engaging, multi-dimensional and accessible. In the end it will save you time, and also hopefully reach more learners in a more engaging way.

At the implementation stage stage you will feed all the course material identified by your design into an LMS (we will discuss various options in the third and final post in this series.)


This is a critical stage, and it can be difficult to muster the time and energy to follow through after the significant strides you have already made in getting the course online. But it is essential to initiate a schedule of review and evaluation of the course by analyzing the data that the learning platform provides, and continue to seek feedback and input from the course users.

The 9 Events of Instruction model

The second recommended instructional design model we will explore is the Robert Gangé’s 9 Events of Instruction model. Based on a behaviorist theory the model breaks down what Dr Gangé’s proposed were the 9 stages of learning, and can offer teachers a useful, staggered way to develop online courses that have a natural, logical flow with the additional benefit of leveraging known stages of learning. Find an interesting set of infographics to kick off your study of the 9 Events of Learning here.

Gain Attention

One should signal that a new learning event has begun. The objective here is to get the “juices flowing”. Some practical ideas include starting with a provocative story that frames the subject, presenting a dilemma or using “trendy” catchphrases and headlines to introduce the topic.

Inform learners about the objectives

Without relying on too much dry language and long texts, try and give your learners an outline of what to expect, and what they will get out of it. Helpful tools in this regard include charts, checklists and infographics.

Stimulate recall of previous knowledge

This is a helpful step for students to associate what they already know with what they will learn, creating a “soft landing” for the new information. Tools that are useful here include a discussion about what the class already knows and a review of literature from previous classes.

Present the stimulus material

This is obviously the crux of the lesson. Here teachers present the course material in modules, each with clear and measurable goals. Ensure that summaries of each module are provided, as well as a list of abbreviations and a lexicon of what new words presented mean. Useful tools in this step include video, slides, live lectures as well as links to additional online resources.

Provide learning guidance

Here teachers are expected to support the learning process, without overtly giving answers or resolving challenges. Online activities that would support this step would include developing a store of case studies and research, provide learning aids such as printable flash cards and check-lists,and initiating online chat groups between students.

Elicit Performance

This is the practice stage of the module, where students can practice what they are learning. Useful tools in this step include using quick flash quizzes (that have little actual weight), presenting real-world scenarios for debate, and pop up questions and challenges that again have no actual assessment weighting.

Provide Feedback

Feedback is an important part of knowledge retention; being able to self-correct in the moment enables better learning. This can be achieved through live discussions, the option to engage with the teacher one-on-one via messaging apps for certain periods, and pairing learners to test each other using past assessment papers and quizzes.

Assess Performance

By now students should be ready for a formal assessment, with grade weightings. There are no prompts or assistance in this phase, and students are expected to recall content and repeat practices they have learned. Tools that can be used here include essay-assignments, multi-media projects and multiple question quizzes.

Enhance retention through real-world applications

Here the teacher enhances retention of the course by encouraging students to apply their learnings to their own-lives, or to existing real-world scenarios. Here useful tools include gaming scenarios, and “what-if” debates and assignments.


Instructional design models are helpful maps that will keep your online course running smoothly and clearly. Choosing the right instructional design model for you is simply a matter of fit - what is the nature of your class, and what processes do you feel most comfortable with? Try not be overwhelmed by the amount of steps, but rather feel comfortable that the model will help you to cover every learning phase logically and thoroughly.

The third and final part in this series on how to convert a F2F class into an online course will cover technology, and we will map out the key online tools and mechanisms available to teachers and how best to utilize them.

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