In 2017 I shifted from a career in the world of design and marketing to one in higher ed, but it began with a contract as a Subject-Matter Expert rather than teaching. With no prior experience or training, I was placed in a world of acronyms I didn’t understand and was asked to develop curriculum—essentially on my own—for a few courses. There were no Instructional Designers to work with or design models to guide me. Since that time, I have developed a fair number of new courses and have yet to use a design model (or had help from an ID) to guide decisions relating to delivery, tool, or assessment that I have had to make along the way. Over time, I found these decisions were typically based around my understanding of course outcome requirements, time restrictions, student motivation, student prior learning, my own mental wellbeing (e.g., how hard is this to mark?), and so many more things that were (and still are?) likely subliminal. I think I would have really benefited from knowing there were resources out there like Dousay’s (2018) chapter on Instructional Design Models.

This overview of design models was eye-opening as I discovered there were models that could streamline thought processes that I previously had to work out on my own through trial and error. The timelines on my course development has always been tight (e.g., develop 2–3 courses in ~3 months), and as I read Dousay (2018) I found myself highlighting various models that looked applicable to rapid development and the constant revisions my courses require. For example, the Attention, Relevance, Confidence, Satisfaction, and Volition (ARSC-V) Model from Keller (2016) was particularly interesting as it mirrors many of the elements of course development that I want to be improve on. Vague questions around student—and, I suppose, instructor—motivation are always floating around in my mind as I rework course design and having a model that could help focus my mind on course design and innovations that will foster an environment of motivation and curiosity will be incredibly helpful.

With so many models to choose from, it is important that I can assess its applicability to my situation before moving too far with it. For example, I have tight timelines that require a model that won’t hold too closely to the ADDIE process, so maybe a model like Allen Interactions’ (n.d.) SAM model would be a good starting point. But, beyond timelines, I need to consider how the course is being delivered (e.g., online/face-to-face, synchronous/asynchronous, etc.); how the course is positioned within the larger program (e.g., first or second year; prerequisite course[s]); the broader purpose of the course (e.g., teach foundational principles vs. encourage exploration and discovery); or how much work is required (e.g., full course development vs. course update). There is a lot to consider and, to be honest with myself, I’m not sure I would have the time to choose, let alone formally implement a design model. Rather than throw out the concept of using design models, I plan to do more reading on them to get a better sense of best practices, useful strategies and common concepts that I can take with me as I attempt to improve my course design in everyday moments. Essentially, I am openly admitting to a laissez faire approach to design models that was inspired by a quote from Brent Wilson (University of Colorado Denver),

Think about what good instruction means. Are you following a sound design procedure, e.g., ADDIE? Are you adhering to best practices of the professional community? Are your strategies supported by learning theory? Are design decisions validated by demonstrated gains on pre- and post- measures? Each of these has a role in creating good instruction, but don’t forget to meet the needs of learners, especially those at the margins. (Dousay, 2018, Tips From the Field section)


Allen Interactions. (n.d.). E-Learning Development With SAM. Retrieved November 14, 2020, from

Dousay, T. A. (2018). Instructional Design Models. In R. E. West (Ed.), Foundations of Learning and Instructional Design Technology (1st ed.). EdTech Books.

Keller, J. M. (2016). Motivation, Learning, and Technology: Applying the ARCS-V Motivation Model. Participatory Educational Research, 3(2), 1–13.