Educational Design

Educational Design

We offer expert curriculum development in health related topics. We can provide the content, illustration, media augmentation, and accreditation-quality content for short CEU courses, patient education, e-learning, and full program development. e offer over twenty years of curriculum development (program and individual courses) in health related topics. Our staff offers PhD level education in Curriculum and Pedagogy Studies with an emphasis on e-learning, eHealth, informatics, multimedia for education, and continuing education/professional development courses focused on a variety of subjects.


Designing a web-based course, or adding web content to a traditional course, is much more than placing lecture notes on the Internet. Instructors must discover new ways to engage learners and encourage them to be active in the course activities. For many, this is a major change from the way they were taught and trained to teach. In order to be successful as an on-line instructor, faculty need to have some understanding of pedagogy as it relates to distance instruction. Some best pedagogical practices that are specific to distance learning are induction, building of learning communities, construction of support networks for students and faculty, and the development of adequate security practices. We will help you to attend to all of these practices while designing your course with the utmost care.

We will also help you to design courses (either online or paper based) to reflect the most current pedagogical practices, including constructivism, problem-based learning, cognitive apprenticeship, situated cognition, and the integration of technology.


One of the most important educational theories to arise in the andragogic and pedagogic literature is constructivism. In the context of this course, this will be a key area of focus. The very course management system that we are using is premised to reflect a constructivist milieu for students of age to experience virtual learning. Developed by educational giants such as Dewey, Piaget, and Bruner, constructivism offers a progressive, student-centered philosophy for on-line course construction. Five basic themes pervade the diversity of theories expressing constructivism. These themes are (1) active agency, (2) order, (3) self, (4) social-symbolic relatedness, and (5) lifespan development. Knowledge is not a fixed object, it is constructed by an individual through her own experience of that object. The constructivist approach to learning emphasizes authentic, challenging projects that include students, teachers and experts in the learning community. Its goal is to create learning communities that are more closely related to the collaborative practice of the real world.

Problem Based Learning

Another student-centered style of teaching, problem based learning or anchored instruction is a second contextualized approach to education that is particularly suited to the virtual environment. This style of teaching poses a problem to be solved rather than content to be mastered. This can be particularly useful in teaching disciplines that require critical, multidimensional thought such as when holistically assessing clients in nursing and medicine. This form of learning situates the problem in the context of meaning. For instance, nursing problems are situated in the nursing practice context (hospital, community, clinic or tele-health setting). The goals of PBL include: 1) developing scientific understanding through real-world cases, 2) developing reasoning strategies, and 3) developing self-directed learning strategies. This approach combines both active and reflective learning as students engage in the problem-solving process and then reflect on their own perceptions and choices. As well, self-directed learning objectives of PBL are particularly important because PBL may facilitate development of lifelong learning strategies necessary to stay current in the face of rapid technological advances.

Cognitive Apprenticeship

Cognitive apprenticeship is an instructional process where teachers provide and support students with scaffolds as the students develop cognitive strategies. Wilson and Cole (1994) described the core characteristics of cognitive apprenticeships model including heuristic content, situated learning, modeling, coaching, articulation, reflection, exploration, and order in increasing complexity. Cognitive apprenticeship creates a culture that permits peers to learn through their interactions, to build stories about common experiences, and to share the knowledge building experiences with others. Collaborative discussion occurs which is important for student learning because it activates prior knowledge which facilitates the processing of new information. CA is designed to help students in acquiring cognitive and meta-cognitive knowledge by means of observation and guided practice (Collins, Brown & Newman, 1989).

The Teaching Tele-apprenticeships model is an example that is based on the theory of cognitive apprenticeship, developed by The College of Education at the University of Illinois. It extends the face-to-face apprenticeships used in the traditional teacher education program by being conducting in electronic network collaborative learning environments. The goal is to link teacher education to practice teaching. Both qualitative and quantitative methods are used to evaluate the project.

Situated Cognition

>Situated cognition, a new paradigm of learning, emphasizes apprenticeship, coaching, collaboration, multiple practice, articulation of learning skills, stories, and technology (Brown, Collins & Duguid, 1989). "Community of practice," a concept emerging from situated cognition, emphasizes sharing and doing, in essence, constructing meaning within a social unit (Roschelle, 1995). Situated learning occurs when students work on authentic tasks that take place in real-world settings (Winn, 1993). However, the very difference between a meta-cognition approach of learning and situated belief of learning is that situated learning is usually unintentional rather than purposeful.

>Learning is a function of the activity, context and culture in which it occurs, which contrasts with most classroom learning which is abstract and out of context (Lave,1991). Education can apply the two basic principles of situated cognition into classroom practice: a) present content within an authentic context, and b) encourage social interaction and collaboration. It is believed that rich contexts can reflect the students' interpretation of the real world and improve their knowledge transfer to different situations. Collaboration can lead to articulation of strategies that can then be discussed, which, in turn, can enhance generalizing grounded in the students' situated understanding.

Self-Directed Learning and Meta-Cognition

The learning theory of self directed or self regulated learning coupled with the process of metacognition is another important practice. Both are critical tenets of andragogic learning. Meracognition is basically knowledge about one's own cognition and level of learning and experience. Adult learners usually are aware when they know certain facts and understand particular processes. Learners are active agents who construct and reconstruct their knowledge and abilities. To cultivate this type of learning, authentic, meaningful learning activities that are relevant to real-world situations are needed: this is critical to help students become independent and life-long learners.

We can design and write courses for your clients, your employees, your professional organization, your higher education institution, or for the general public. The particular learning levels of your target student population can easily be addressed - whether you need a course written in easy to follow, layman language or one that uses a sophisticated graduate level academic voice. We can provide the content, illustration, media augmentation, and accreditation-quality content for short CEU courses right through to full program development.

Integration of Technology

Instructional Design is the systematic process of translating general principles of learning and instruction into plans for instructional materials and learning. It is the entire process of analysis of learning needs and goals and the development of a delivery system to meet those needs. It includes development of instructional materials and activities; as well as the implementation and evaluation of all instruction and learner activities.

Various models are applied to instructional design, ranging from behaviorism to constructivism. These common elements are defining objectives, determining content (and the sequence and structure of the content), determining the instructional strategies and methods for presenting the material, and developing the curriculum. Most models include evaluation and feedback at some stage in the process. The major discrepancy in the numerous models is in the method or approach to design. Instructional Systems Design methodology, in various forms, basically takes the ADDIE approach, that is Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation.

Instructional design is an important part of on-line course development, but it is not as important as the inclusion of student-centered learning theory. Both processes need to be combined in order to create courses that really facilitate learning and understanding.

Interaction is a key concept in virtual learning ? it is not enough to simply provide interactive activities though: the trick is to design activities that provide MEANINGFUL interaction that actually support learning, dialogue, and reflection. As communication and creative technologies continually become more sophisticated and user-friendly, on-line course developers and teachers have a number of tools that they can apply to promote meaningful and interesting interactive experiences.

Evaluation of adult learning in any environment, whether in the classroom, the practice area, or on-line offers opportunities for creativity and higher-level thinking. The on-line or virtual learning arena can be an interesting milieu for both learning and assessment, that challenges the course designer and teacher to consider inventive, creative, interactive, as well as self-directed modes of assessment. Course Management Software (CMS) capabilities that can help teachers to set up quizzes, forums, journals, lessons, assignments, SCORM (learning objects), multimedia uploads, glossaries, wikis, workshops, blogs, databases, as well as more well-known means such as worksheets, papers, projects, web quests, portfolios, rubrics, self assessment and such. If students are taking the course as a group, various group activities, peer evaluations, and projects can be facilitated within the CMS software.

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