Category Archives: Instructional Design


Conceptual Design for a Distance Education School for Rural Secondary Students in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba

This paper describes a distance education institution for rural secondary students in Canada’s Prairie Provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba), premised on a hypothetical collaborative initiative arising from a Canadian Association of Principals conference where the challenges facing rural education were explored. This hypothetical initiative was advanced through discussions with respective schools districts and provincial associations. A preliminary proposal garnered funding for a market assessment that confirmed a viable niche market (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012).

The Open Prairie Lyceum (OPL) concept comprises a federated distance education (DE) school model to serve rural areas, where school abandonment and dwindling enrolments impede students’ learning experiences and access to quality and comprehensive education, and undermine community sustainability (Bennett, 2012; Oncescu, 2013). OPL addresses the economic needs of rural areas by enabling students to develop relationships and gain local work experience, preparing them for higher education, training and careers that may contribute to long-term rural development and revitalization and encourage students to remain in their rural homes permanently (Indiana Partnership for Statewide Education, 2000; Lemoine & Ramsay, 2011; Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012).

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Filed under Constructivist Learning, Distence Education Theory and Research, Instructional Design

Best Practices for Visual-based Instruction in Distance Education

Course development and design in distance education (DE) should respond to specific learning outcomes and assessment objectives determined in advance, and should incorporate two fundamental principles that Simonson et al. (2012: p. 153) identify as critical to a student-centred approach: 1) Visual-based instruction (appropriate for and capitalizing on digital media), 2) Engaging students (through collaborative work and social connectedness).

Here is an example of a lesson on a course site within a CMS. This lesson incorporates best practices for visual design (Simonson et al., 2012) with z-layout for web design (Jones, 2010), and applies a linear-designed instruction approach and Unit-Module-Topic organization (Simonson et al., 2012).


Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th edition). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Jones, B. (19 October 2010). Understanding the z-layout in web design [weblog].–webdesign-28


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Filed under Distence Education Theory and Research, Frameworks for Guiding Technology Use, Instructional Design, Research and Perspective on Technology in Education