Best Practices: Course Design


Designing or redesigning your course can be a daunting task. Where should you begin? Do you need an entire course redesign, or just one area? The goal of this article is to expose you to the process of designing or redesigning a course using a student-centric instructional design framework called ADDIE. Whether you are designing one aspect of your course (example: final capstone project, evaluations) or the entire course, you can adapt the ADDIE model to understand why and how you could make certain changes.

You will notice in this article that technology is not the central focus - while most course designs do integrate technology, it is recommended to focus on the experience you want to create, and then see how technology can facilitate that. The below info-graphic illustrates the perspective when designing a course.



Applying the ADDIE model to enhance your course with technology

The ADDIE model is an iterative framework you can use to design any aspect of your course. If this is the first time you are looking to enhance your course, begin within one aspect of your course rather than the entire course.

Step 1: Analysis
Goal: To gather information to inform decisions about instructional strategies, media and technology, and how to structure an evaluation to understand the success of your course.

Activities and deliverables:

  • To begin, use this syllabus rubric to identify areas in your course that could be enhanced. This Qualtrics survey is owned by the Academic Technology Services team at Steinhardt IT. If you’d like a private version of this survey, feel free to send us an email at
  • Based on your syllabus rubric results, what area of your course would you like to focus on? Set a goal and make it SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timebound). To learn more about SMART goals, check out this video from
  • Redefine course-level objectives and the learning outcomes that relate to the area you will be enhancing within your course by using Blooms Taxonomy (tip: If the graph is not working please try opening link in another browser, or a print-out is available).


Step 2: Design
Goal: To apply information from the analysis stage and make a preliminary design for your course; Outline what instructional materials will be created.

The purpose of the 'design' phase is to provide as much exposure to various technology solutions as possible to help inform your course designs. Be open to exploring new ideas, being iterative in your thoughts, and critically evaluate examples. This will greatly help inform your own course.

Activities and deliverables:

  • Use this worksheet to begin to map the student experience.  By describing each unit or section of your course using this worksheet, you will begin to see opportunities where technology could be added to enhance an interaction or experience.
  • Identify the delivery of course instruction: with technology, you may begin to explore how you can deliver course instruction. Thinking about your content and your instructional goals, which instructional modes make the most sense for you - in-person, online, or blended? Review this article in the University definitions of instructional modes

This is also the stage where you will begin to wonder what tools are available for you to use. In addition to working with the Academic Technology Services team, here are several resources that will support course design efforts:

NYU Bobst Library resources:

  • Explore the NYU Library Research Guides and Research Librarians - NYU has several librarians dedicated to helping Steinhardt faculty. Click on the above link to find out who your research librarians is based on your disciple. Scott Collard (, Librarian for Education and Linguistics, is the primary research librarian for Steinhardt
  • Data Services and Digital Studio
  • Adding NYU Library e-reserve and e-book materials

NYU IT Resources


Step 3: Develop
Goal: Create any "deliverables" for your course that will be used in the first implementation. Make sure your needs are carefully planned and organized to meet deadlines for delivery, and deadlines are realistic.

Activities and deliverables:

  • build content, assignments, assessments
  • upload content to 'sandbox' course environment
  • show others your new ideas and gather feedback

Contact if you need any assistance with this phase.


Step 4: Implement
Goal: This phase of the process describes the first use of the instruction or materials with learners. In our program, we will be providing resources and testimonies of faculty who have implemented technology into their courses.

Activities and deliverables:

  • Prepare to teach. Practice, practice, practice!
  • Integrate as many formative assessment techniques as possible during this phase

Remember: Learner problems or unforeseen instructional challenges may arise with the first implementation of the new instructional design and materials, so it is important to remember that this stage is part of a process and not simply the end of the design and development project.


Step 5: Evaluate
Goal: Evaluative feedback to understand the effectiveness of the newly designed lesson, course, curriculum or materials in meeting the original instructional goals and learning objectives. If the feedback meets the expectations and goals for the design, then it can be considered summative or final. However, based on this feedback, revisions in the design may be necessary.  

Activities and deliverables:

  • Surveys
  • Reflection opportunities
  • Data analysis

There are many tools we can use to create online surveys to receive anonymous feedback and student assessments of your course. We can use these surveys to analyze the student experience using the data it collects. Learn about how you can use two services offered at NYU: Google Forms (available via NYU Drive) and Qualtrics to design surveys and analyze data.

It's recommended to solicit feedback from your students on a consistent basis. Review our 'plus/delta' assessment activity to receive quick and timely feedback on your course design.


Remember to think “experience” first - what scenario are you trying to support with your course design efforts? The technology applied is used to only help facilitate that experience, if it is not well thought out beforehand than your implementation will not be successful.



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