Instructional Design

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Course Design

Instructional Design Unit

Office of Faculty Support and Development


Principle 7

Respect Diverse Talents and Ways of Learning

Different students bring different talents and styles to college. Brilliant students in a seminar might be all thumbs in a lab or studio; students rich in hands-on experience may not do so well with theory. Students need opportunities to show their talents and learn in ways that work for them. Then they can be pushed to learn in new ways that do not come so easily. 

“Many roads lead to learning”


In the traditional setting, instructors can add graphs or movie clips or powerpoint slides to add images to their lectures and provide different types of assignments – labs/hands on, writing assignments, quizzes, etc. In this way, those who are primarily visual, auditory or hands-on types all have their needs met.

Online, you cannot know your students learning styles beforehand so it’s important to design a class that addresses multiple styles and skills.

Best Practices
  Providing class content, including lecture presentations, online allows students to review material, think about what has been said and time to decide how to respond. This is especially helpful if the student or instructor has a native language other than English. It is beneficial to add audio to powerpoint slides. Research suggests that students can listen to about 15-20 minutes before their attention begins to wane. It is easy in the traditional classroom to see when students are losing interest (yawning, eyes glaze over, tuning out), but online you don’t have these cues so you have to foresee and plan accordingly. It is a good practice to break these lectures up into 15 or 20 minute chunks. There are free software tools available that will help you to prepare audio slides.

Linkedaudio and video files can be important supplements to textbooks, discussions, and print documents. Multimedia files are useful when they provide insight or experiences that text cannot offer (in the case of interviews, lectures, speeches, newscasts, tours, concert performances, and demonstrations). These can prove very helpful in engaging students’ interest in a subject and a way to bring in real-world data and situations.

Besides using audio and video, instructors can also have students engage in online discussion, use simulations, case studies, Internet research, and collaborative group experiences to broaden the learning experience and accommodate various learning styles. Many ideas can be found on site.

All students whether they are vision or hearing impaired, color blind, etc should have access to the same information as every other student. Vista builds web pages that are compliant but if you add other items, it is good to consider if these are web accessible.

WebAIM ( is a good place to learn more about this subject and contains a very informative 11.5 minute video which provides an overview of the difficulties users with disabilities face on the web and some of the motivations for web accessibility.


Record audio commentary, lectures, and guest speakers using a program like Audacity.
Preserve great dialogue for future students to hear.
Give audio learners a great opportunity in a visually dominate experience.
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