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Design for e-learning

There is no point in introducing a technology just because it is available or for the sake of innovating. ’The novelty factor can often cause us to be tempted to implement the latest and greatest technology, sometimes without thinking carefully enough about whether or not this is actually going to result in meaningful learning’ (Lee, 2005). A straightforward way to judge the potential value of a technology is to consider the SAMR model described earlier (Puentedura, 2006) or the seven principles of good practice in higher education (Chickering and Gamson, 1987) and assess how the technologies might help to add value (Gamson, 1995; Chickering and Ehrmann, 1996).


As educators, we need to ensure that technologies are successfully integrated at a course level in terms of a coherent teaching plan. A curriculum, course or ‘lesson’ should have an aim, specific learning objectives or outcomes, learning activities designed to enable students to achieve the learning objectives, valid and reliable assessments designed to measure student learning (Atherton, 2005) and evaluation to measure the effect of the intervention (see Setting Learning Objectives module and Lesson Plan in the Teacher’s Toolbox). These are the basic elements of ‘the educational paradigm’ which, guided and informed by educational principles (Matheson, 2009), should be linked together so as to enable ‘constructive alignment’ (Biggs, 1996).


Facilitating and producing effective learning is a creative and complex process which requires identifying and aligning learning opportunities to learning objectives or outcomes. A learning designer must consider learner needs and motivation, which has been referred to as ‘designing for learning’ (Joint Information Systems Committee, 2004). Motivational models, such as Keller’s ARCS model (Keller, 1987) and the Six Cs of Motivation (Turner and Paris, 1995) can be applied to the instructional design process to encourage and sustain motivation in the learning process. Another model is Beetham’s model of learning activity design which can be implemented to take a learner-centred approach to learning and activity design. See the ‘Effective Practice with e-Learning’ guide produced by JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee, 2004 p.15) for further details about this model.

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