Lesson 9: Basic Learning Unit Instructional Design


ID Concepts

This is a concept map describing Sieman's Instructional Design and Connectivism Model
Click on the graphic to see a full-size version!

Click HERE to visit his website on Connectivism

Click HERE to read an article on the new theory of Connectivism

Click to visit a website
"Growing up Digital: How the Web Changes Work, Education and the Ways People Learn"

This lesson will introduce you to three models of Instructional Design that can be applied to the development of a "Learning Unit" in online classes. The three models are ADDIE, Gagne's Nine Events of Instruction, and the ALOTA.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this lesson's material, Faculty will be able to:

  • Describe the utilization of instructional design methodologies including ADDIE, Gagne's Nine Events of Instruction, and ALOTA.
  • Utilize Bloom's Taxonomy to develop learning outcomes and their corresponding assessments.
  • Develop a "Lesson Plan" for a unit of instruction utilizing one or more of these models.


In this lesson I am going to introduce you to a couple models used by instructional designers to develop units of learning...I will also introduce you to my own model, which you have been experiencing in each of these Lessons.

Learning Theory

Basically learning theory tells us that individuals learn best when information is divided up into smaller pieces that can be "consumed" individually. Mastery of early material leads to advantages in later material and learning progresses in a pretty linear fashion.

In online learning, best practice is to divide up your content into a number of pieces and create learning experiences around each piece. This means that for each piece you have the content and the assessments needed to ensure that your students gain mastery over the material.

Keep this in mind as we progress through these models.


ADDIE is an acronym for the steps involved in the development of a product. That product can be a course, a unit of instruction, or even a manufactured product like a car or cell phone. It is the development cycle of continual product development and improvement that many manufacturers use today.

ADDIE model

As you can see in this graphic, the process is cyclical...it is assumed that we are constantly striving to improve our teaching and learning by engaging in this process. So, the ADDIE model is not really an Instructional Design model, it is a "produce development" model...we just apply it to education and the creation of learning units.

The next two models, Gagne and ALOTA, deal mostly with steps 2. Design and 3. Develop when we are actually creating a learning unit.

Gagne's Nine Events of Instruction

Robert Gagne identified specific steps that happen when a teacher is teaching. While the model is linear, that does not mean that we don't go back and forth a bit between the steps.

All in all, we likely cover each of these steps each time we teach something.

While this is probably simple to conceptualize for face-to-face teaching, it has to be made explicit in online learning. We need to create documents and utilize tools to cover these same areas.

The Nine Events of Instruction are:

  • Gain attention
  • Inform learners of objectives
  • Stimulate recall of prior learning
  • Present the content
  • Provide "learning guidance"
  • Elicit performance
  • Provide feedback
  • Assess performance
  • Enhance retention and transfer to the job

Click HERE to read a very brief article on Gagne's Events.


ALOTA is another acronym...it stands for

  • Attention
  • Learning Outcomes
  • Teaching
  • Assessment


It is my own creation and represents a summary of Gagne's Nine Events that is a bit easier to understand and is more flexible for the different kinds of learning we engage it. You might recognize the titles of these items...they are the titles of the sections in each of these Lesson Plans!

Note that I organize each lesson in this course using each of these components.

  • Attention
  • Start out the lesson with an intriguing question, quote, image, video, cartoon, etc. Something to get your audience's attention and also related to the content of the lesson
  • Learning Outcomes
  • For each and every lesson I outline specific and measurable learning outcomes. I try to keep it to 3-4 maximum and tend to do even less with each lesson. This means there can be a LOT of lessons if you are going to cover a lot of material. (In my Developmental Psychology class there are 42 separate lesson plans!)
  • Teaching
  • This one item covers a lot of Gagne's events! This is where I sequence the notes, links, images, and video that I want to present to my students.
  • Because I edit my lesson plans in HTML, I am able to incorporate images, links, and videos right into the Teaching part.
  • Assessment
  • Finally, at the end of each lesson is a description of the assessments or course activities that the students need to complete in order to demonstrate that they have acquired the knowledge and/or skills described in the teaching section.
  • Notice that there is a connection between the Learning Outcomes listed and the Assessments. The Assessments measure the Learning Outcomes precisely.


In truth, when I am creating a new lesson, I usually create each of these in a different order:

  1. Learning Outcomes
  2. Assessments
  3. Teaching
  4. Attention

My thinking is this:

  1. I need to know where the students are going
  2. I need to know when they get there and how well they did getting there
  3. I need to tell them how to get from where they are (current knowledge) to where I want them to be (learning outcomes)
  4. I need to motivate them to be interested in the material to energize their academic efforts

I really, really actually think this way!

Yes, this is a lot of work and a lot of time...get it ALOTA work and ALOTA time! But it is worth it and your students know exactly what they need to do!


Lesson 9 Discussion

Use this discussion to ask questions about this lesson and to discuss the content.

Lesson 9 Assignment

For this course I would like you to design a single lesson plan using the ALOTA model as described in this lesson and as exemplified in each of the Lessons in this course.

Even if you won't specifically be using this model.

Most of you might end up using MS Word to create your Lesson or Unit document, be sure to edit it into the sections outlined in the ALOTA model. Include links and pictures if you want, and make reference to any movies or other multimedia.

Make sure that your Learning Outcomes arise from Bloom's Taxonomy and that your Assessments actually measure (using the various tools available in Bb) your outcomes.

Post this Lesson Plan document into your course and email me when it is ready.