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Designing a blended course

For your reference, if you are designing a course for the first time, or redesigning an existing course, the first three steps listed below are based on the "backward" design approach by Wiggins and McTighe (1998), which aligns course goals and objectives with course assessments and activities. Step four will help you decide which activities are better suited to face-to-face or out-of-class delivery mode.

Infographic illustrating the 4 steps to designing a blended course which is described below.

1. Identify course learning outcomes

Learning Objectives (also referred to as Learning Outcomes) are statements that describe the learning that a student is expected to demonstrate from a single class, a course or entire program. 

To be effective, the statements should

  • use verbs that describe observable and measurable actions that demonstrate the learning and can be assessed;

  • specify the precise knowledge, skills and/or attitude that are targeted

  • identify the conditions under which students will demonstrate their learning 

Finally, your learning outcomes should always be shared with your students.

Formula for Writing Learning Outcomes

Condition Measurable Verb Knowledge, Skill, attitude Condition
By the end of this program, successful students should be able to: design a system, component or process that responds effectively and creatively to an engineering problem.

Condition Measurable Verb Knowledge, Skill, attitude Condition
By the end of this course, successful students should be able to: apply supply chain management concepts and best practices to design and/or improve supply chain processes.

Condition Measurable Verb Knowledge, Skill, attitude Condition
By the end of this module, successful students should be able to: describe the methods scientists use to explore and evaluate natural phenomena.

Condition Measurable Verb Knowledge, Skill, attitude Condition
By the end of this lesson, successful students should be able to: identify two key components of aesthetics used to evoke mood in photography.

2. Determine assessments to measure each outcome

To determine the assessment activities for a course, consider the following question:  

How will students demonstrate the skills, knowledge or attitudes required to successfully complete the course? These are directly tied to the learning outcomes from Step 1.

With your learning outcomes in mind, determine what activities might serve as evidence that students meet each of the outcomes.

The nature of the assessments will depend on the depth of knowledge or skill required. When simple facts are required, quizzes might be an efficient way of measuring learning. However, when students must use higher-order thinking skills to analyze and evaluate, real world problems and scenarios are more appropriate.

Examples of assessment activities include:

  • problem solving tasks and scenarios

  • models and diagrams

  • essays

  • research reports

  • videos

  • reflections (written or in an alternative medium)

  • artistic works

  • role-plays

3. Plan all course learning activities

The learning activities include any course activities the students must complete in order to help them meet the course objectives and goals.

Note: A three-credit course requires a minimum of 10 hours of work per week including lectures, readings, exams and other assignments. 

It is particularly easy to pile on readings and lectures in the online environment, so when planning your course activities, determine whether a learning activity is a need to have or a nice to have. Consider creating a separate Supplementary Resources & Activities section in Moodle for the nice to have activities, and direct students to specific resources and activities as appropriate. You can use this tool to help you estimate student workload. 

Examples include:

  • readings 

  • attending/watching lectures

  • watching other videos

  • participating in an online discussion forum 

  • completing individual or collaborative assignments

  • taking quizzes

  • participating in in-class group work or other activities

  • Hands-on activities, such as data collection or analysis, doing experiments, building or creating original works 

  • Community activities, such as participating in a rally, visiting landmarks, interviewing experts, cataloging/mapping communities (i.e., plants, wildlife, architecture, monuments, etc.)

4. Determine sequence and delivery mode for each activity

This final step of the planning process is putting all the pieces together and mapping out what the course will look like.

To create the completed plan for your blended course, complete the following tasks:

  1. Group all learning activities and assessments into modules or weeks and determine the sequence of each of the activities within each module.
  2. Determine the delivery mode for each activity and assessment (i.e. in-class or out-of-class). If any activities are to be online, make notes about which Moodle activity you will use and what resource are required to create it online (i.e., record a lecture, enter quiz questions into Moodle, create student groups in Moodle, etc.)

Blended Model for 3-hour Weekly Schedule

To exemplify how an Instructor can approach planning a blended schedule, the following table was developed as a possible model for a weekly 3-hour course.

Date(s) Week Face-to-face Activity Out-of-class Activity Location Completion Date
Oct. 3

- Live lecture

- Clicker questions with Think-Pair-Share

Estimate: 2 hours


- watch recorded lecture "title"

- read page X = XX "Title"

- Post 3 Major Takeaways from lecture & reading

- Moodle

- Course pack

- Moodle

Prior to Oct.3


- complete worksheet "title"

Estimate: 1 - 2 hours

- Moodle Due Oct. 9
Weekly Workload Estimate 2 hours 7 hours - -


The following template will help you design a blended module for your course:

Anderson, L. W. and Krathwohl, D. R., et al (Eds..) (2001) A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. Allyn & Bacon. Boston, MA (Pearson Education Group).

Garrison, D. R. & Vaughn, N.D. (2007) Blended Learning in Higher Education: Framework, Principles, and Guidelines. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Stein, J. & Graham, C.R. (2014). Essentials for Blended Learning: A Standards-Based Guide. New York: Routledge.

Wiggins, G. P., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design (2nd ed.). Pearson.

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