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Random Thoughts on Instructional Design

Designing A Technology-rich Learning Unit

cipp model

Designed for: K-12 Teachers
Revised: 12/9/05


Your mission is to develop an exciting, technology-rich learning environment for a project based upon a content-area standard or learning outcome. The project you choose to develop must meet a real-world need, and should be something that can realistically be implemented in your classroom within the next academic year.

Where to Start

Think about what you want your learners to be able to do/learn. You might begin by selecting a content-area state standard or a particular learning activity that you have identified would best be taught with or enhanced by technology. Once the activity is selected assess your target audience. Use the audience assessment to determine which of the below listed options would be most appropriate fro your project.


instructional design domains

Your product for this project is the creation of a technology-rich learning experience. Your project will be comprised of three deliverables:

  • Approach component
  • collaborative communication component
  • A technology component

The following defines each of the three components.

Approach Component

The Approach Component provides an overview of your project, the philosophy behind this type of teaching/learning environment, professional literature to support the approach, detailed activities/assessments related to technology, and discussion of how the Collaborative Communication and Technology Components fit into your overall plan.
Select one of the following techniques or design your own:

  • Inquiry-based or Project-based Learning Unit. Design the materials for a unit including teacher and student resources, standards, and activities. Student activities should include the use of Internet as well as at least one other technology such as digital cameras, word processing, or Inspiration. You don’t need to build the entire unit. However, you should provide at least three detailed activities and matching assessments. If you build a WebQuest or treasure hunt, your Approach Component can be build right into the "teacher section" of your WebQuest or treasure hunt project deliverable.
  • Collaborative Research Project. Create a plan for a collaborative research project. The plan should include information about books you plan to use and links to online information that might be useful for implementation. Describe how the groups will function including roles and activities. Describe at least one way that the groups might use technology including information access, threaded discussions, word processing, digital cameras, educational CDs, and other tools and resources.
  • Collaborative Interactive Project. Create a detailed plan for a virtual lab group or other collaborative project that would involve connecting with another person, class, entire school, or class at another school. Your project should include a purpose for the virtual collaboration such as online discussions, peer writing or tutoring, generating data, or sharing projects. This project should focus on a particular book, theme, or topic and include specific activities, resources, timelines, and plans. Describe at least one way students would use technology including information access, threaded discussions, word processing, web pages, blogs, podcasting, or email.

If you are interested in developing an interactive project across schools you may want to visit the Global Nomads Group website.

Collaborative Communication Component

Now that you have your Approach component completed move onto building your Collaborative Communication component — be sure to include the URL and any necessary password into your Approach component document.

Choose 1 of the following 2 tools:

  • Threaded Discussion. Create a threaded discussion account with a free service such as and develop at least 6 discussion areas or topics. Also include the following items:
  • Directions or questions for each area.
  • Guidelines for use of the forums such as: student discussion evaluation criteria, guidelines for discussion etiquette, and a timeline for the discussion.
  • At least one web links and image.
  • Create a blog account with a free service such as Blogger, Motime or tblog, and make at least 5 postings. This blog may be used as a model for what students might create. Or, as a tool for student interaction and comments. Include the following items:
  • Directions or questions as needed. (Nurturing the Network — some thoughts on supporting students who blog)
  • Guidelines for use of the blog such as student evaluation criteria, guidelines for discussion etiquette, and a timeline for the blogging.
  • At least one web link and image.

Technology Component

Choose1 of the following 3 technologies:

  • WebQuest, PowerQuest, or Treasure Hunt. If you select this option you must create a WebQuest or Treasure Hunt as web pages.  If you create a PowerQuest in PowerPoint, use the Speaker notes for elaboration.
  • If you adapt ideas from other WebQuests, the original website must be cited.
  • If wish to copy elements from another WebQuest you must get permission from the author.
  • If you decide to develop a Treasure Hunt you may want to use Trackstar as your development tool.
  • Interactive Book. Create your own electronic book or books. These can be made as web pages or as PowerPoint presentations.
  • Think about easy to use navigation. Also be sure to include quality visuals and easy-to-read fonts.
  • Your materials should be attractive to your audience. Consider including audio buttons.
  • Your e-book should have a way to easily access each page and return to the first page. Consider a table of contents and title page at the beginning just like a paper book.
  • If you use PowerPoint, you should have at least 20 screens. It should not simply be a PowerPoint presentation. It should use the interactive aspects of PowerPoint such as web links, action buttons, and/or hot spots. Think of it as an electronic picture book or interactive textbook.
  • You may want to visit Salariya Web Books for ideas on designing interactive textbooks.
  • Tutorial, Simulation, or Case Study. Create web pages, PowerPoint, and/or video to design a tutorial, simulation, or case study to address a specific learning need. In addition to information, it must include questioning, assessment, or some other type of interactive learning element.

Samples & tools to get you started


  • Adventures of Cyberbee – site contains a large number of WebQuests, Treasure Hunts, as well as other interactive learning units
  • AlA Great Web Sites for Kids – site contains a number of teaching and learning resources indexed by subject.
  • Blue Web’n – site contains a large number of multimedia learning units indexed by grade level and subject.
  • Brain Pop – site provides educational animated movies for grades K-12 to explain concepts in a voice and visual style that are accessible and entertaining to both children and adults.
  • National Geographic Xpeditions – "Xpeditions is home to the U.S. National Geography Standards—and to thousands of ideas, tools, and interactive adventures that bring them to life."
  • PBS Teacher Source – this site "provides nearly 3,000 free lesson plans and activities for educators tied to PBS programming and correlated to local and national standards."
  • Smithsonian Education – this site houses education resources and information, lesson plans, field trips, and fun interactive activities for educators, families, and students. All materials are based on Smithsonian museum collections and research.
  • Windows to the Universe – this site bring together information and resources from scientific, artistic, historical, and cultural sources. (Nice example of a topic-specific interactive book.)


  • Filamentality – is a fill-in-the-blank interactive Web site that guides you through picking a topic, searching the Web, gathering good Internet sites, and turning Web resources into learning activities.
  • Trackstar – helps instructors organize and annotate Web sites (URLs) for use in lessons. Site provides tutorials and forms to assist with the development of web based lessons.

Project Submission

learning unit design

Sharing is an important part of learning. Complete the following steps:

  1. Create project in whatever form will work best for your students. For example, you might include a Word document, mp3 file, Flash/Quick Time movie, web page, Inspiration document, Power Point, or other materials.
  2. Upload your documents and other materials to the web using the public directory of File Manager in Geocities, or your own web space. (This project would be a great addition to an online professional portfolio.)
  3. Write a short narrative describing the reason you chose to create this project and how it fits with your interests as well as the needs of your students.
  4. Post a comment to this entry that includes a link to your project URL.
  5. In addition, you must to email the project URL to me. Include the course number in the email Subject line of the email.


The project evaluation checklist will be distributed the first night of class.

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This entry was posted on December 10, 2005 by in Instructional Technology, Learning Units and tagged , , .

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