Discovering Instructional Design 8: Developing Material for Learning Programs

Continuing this E-Learning Curve Blog series of articles on instructional design. Today, I’m going to outline some guidelines for developing material for  learning programs.

Now read on…

Criterion Tests

When developing material for learning programs, it’s essential that learners’ knowledge and skills’ acquisition is measured and assessed. Criterion tests are instruments to enable learners and instructors alike to determine whether the learner is ready to move to the next unit of instruction, hence the term criterion-referenced assessment. They are not intended to determine how well a student performed in comparison with other students (norm-referenced assessment), or grading on the curve.


Course descriptions should list tools and equipment needed, and environmental requirement if relevant, when developing material training purposes.  In order to achieve this, the instructional designer is typically guided by the conditions specified in the objective.

Content Derivation

When objectives, criterion tests, practices and audience are all defined, the relevant content can be produced. Key learning points are listed along with examples, questions and illustrations. Often the instructional designer will undertake a “mapping” exercise to a particular textbook, for example a Microsoft Office User Specialist-certified publication can be used if the course if training office productivity skills on a PC. The example in Table 1 is a (modified) extract of a specification for a time management e-learning product.

Table 1 A Sample Mapping for Developing Material

Topic Time flies – where?
Taxonomy level Objective/ assessmentMapping
Evaluation Assess your use of the resource of time Time as a precious resource: page 9, right Self-assessment and indicators of bad time management 10-22

Time log: 45-65

Key concepts

You want to achieve your goals. To do so you need to match the time available for those goals

  • Time is a precious resource.
  • Assess how well you are using that precious resource:
  • Calculate how much of that resource was wasted today.
  • Calculate how much of that resource is available to you to pursue your goals (proactive time) when you take away legitimate interruptions (reactive time) and necessary but low-level work (maintenance).
  • If you use time badly, you won’t achieve; if you use it well there are many benefits, especially achieving your goals
Presentation guidelines


Delivery System Selection

This determines the combination of media, resources, job aids, and classroom exercises needed for both instruction and practice.

Next Time: Implementation, Evaluation, and Improvement