Three Course Blueprints for Modern Instructional Design That Works

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When you build an online course, it is obviously important to offer great content. But content requires structure for effective presentation and delivery. This LMScast with Joshua Millage and Christopher Badgett introduces three course blueprints for modern instructional design that works. In addition, you will gain access to a free online mini course that will teach you how to implement these course blueprints for your own eLearning applications.

Instructional design is the structure with which you create and define your learning environment. It allows you to successfully guide a student from their current level of understanding within a subject area to a desired point of completion with clarity and intention.

There are three basic instructional blueprints for your course content. The one you choose to implement depends on what you are teaching and how you need to present your subject:

  • Behavioral training
  • Learning a process
  • Referencing information

Behavioral training courses show students how to change their behaviors in order to achieve a goal, such as losing weight or scheduling a morning routine.

A course for learning a process teaches step-by-step how to do a task, like building an email list for your database or optimizing YouTube video ratings with SEO.

Reference courses go in depth with information about a subject, such as PHP coding or content strategy for Facebook ads.

Joshua Millage has created a free online mini course to show you how to build courses based on each of these three instructional designs. For example, in the behavioral outline you will learn the significance of human motivation patterns in affecting behavioral change, and how a quick-start lesson can drive motivation. The reference course segment will show you how to onboard students into your course, give them resources for further study, and maintain relevance as subject information changes.

You can access the instructional blueprints mini course by text messaging the subject “courseblueprint” to address 33444. You will be prompted to enter your email address where you will then receive a link to the introductory course video.

Our LifterLMS course development platform is designed to help you build courses using these three course blueprints for modern instructional design that works. You can also try a demo of LifterLMS and see for yourself what it can do for you.

Remember that you can post comments and also subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us.

And if you’re an already successful expert, teacher or entrepreneur looking to grow, check out the LifterLMS team’s signature service called Boost. It’s a complete done for you set up service where your learning platform goes live in just 5 days.

Episode Transcript

Joshua Millage: Hello, Everyone. Welcome back to another episode of LMScast. I’m Joshua Millage, and I’m joined with Christopher Badgett. Today we’re talking about three course blueprints for modern instructional design that works. Chris, let me ask you the question just to clarifying question before we jump in. What does instructional design mean?

Chris Badgett: That’s a good question. I think it’s open to interpretation, but essentially what it is is having an intentional approach to architecting the learning environment and building the structure for that, whether it’s all digital or blended or flip classroom or whatever. Just to be very intentional and put a plan together on how you want to take a learner from a certain point to a desired outcome.

Joshua Millage: Yeah, and the way that I would say it really simply would be, how you structure your course.

Chris Badgett: There you go.

Joshua Millage: I think a lot of people just structure their courses by putting a bunch of videos up, and they call it a day. There’s so many other elements, like how are you going to connect them with the community? What length is your lesson going to be? All of that plays into the overall, I guess, course blueprint that I’m talking about in the mini course that I created. If you’re interested in taking that, actually you can head over to course … You could actually text us by sending us a text at 33444, and you just text “courseblueprint” over to that address, and we’ll send you a link, and you’ll actually be able to take the course that I created on course blueprints. I structure it…I kind of introduce three different course blueprints.

The first is a course blueprint that’s really focused on behavioral change, so if you’re teaching material lines up with any sort of how to lose weight, how to create a morning routine, anything like that. Anything that’s speaking to a behavior, this is a course blueprint that is really focused on that.

The other is a learn a process blueprint, so if you’re teaching how to build an email list or how to SEO YouTube videos. Something that’s more step by step. There’s a specific structure for that and a blueprint for that.

Then the other is a reference course, so a course that’s really focused on sharing a lot of information. Usually these courses follow the trend of something that is dynamic in nature, so maybe you’re teaching PHP code. Maybe you’re teaching how to do Facebook ads. These different types of training, it’s hard to structure them, because PHP, you know, YouTube ads, any of these things, they change almost on a week to week basis, so by the time that you have your course designed and your structure designed, it’s probably irrelevant. There’s certain things you need to do to onboard people into this course structure, but also help them find the most up to date information, because in that type of course, if you go to create that type of course, you’re really going to have to be updating your content continually, because your course will become irrelevant given the nature of what you’re teaching.

Those are the high level of the three blueprints, and, Chris, I don’t know if you want me to jump into any of them, or where you want to go, but I think people need to really focus on the blueprint of their course. Yes, the content is absolutely important. It’s the most important thing is what you’re teaching, but how you structure it comes in at a close second, I think.

Chris Badgett: I think that’s great, and it’s awesome to really separate out those three distinct archetypes of courses. What was that? What do people need to do to get their hands on that again?

Joshua Millage: If you just text the word “courseblueprint,” all one word to 33444, it’s going to ping you back and ask for your email. You’ll text the email, and then it’ll send you a link to the first video in the series, and I’m really excited, because it’s something that I’ve put a lot of time and effort and energy into. I think people will enjoy it. I introduced those three blueprints in great detail, so yeah, check it out.

Chris Badgett: Maybe let’s drop just a tip or a spoiler from a behavior change blueprint. What is one of the coolest things that you find in that particular archetype.

Joshua Millage: Yeah. In that archetype, I think that out of, more so than any of the other archetypes, is that … There’s a couple things that are true against all of them, so I’ll start there, and then I’ll give one away, because you need the context of human motivation. Human motivation is interesting. We all get very motivated after we take certain actions, so for instance, you buy a book on weight loss. You’re the most motivated when you bought the book, but over the course of the next few days and weeks, like, did you finish the book? I didn’t, you know?

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Joshua Millage: Same thing with the course. You bought a course on how to build an email list. You got through the introduction in lesson one. You didn’t get any farther. This is just common human motivation patterns. You register for a course. You make a purchase. You have a spike in engagement, and so across the board, you need to take advantage of what you tell people to do first, because the odds that they will consume that are the highest. For me, when it comes to behavioral change, it’s really setting up and continually selling the change, so you had a pitch to sell them into the course. Now you need to pitch them immediately to finish the course.

Chris Badgett: To keep them motivated.

Joshua Millage: Keep them motivated and tell them what they’re going to learn at the end of lesson two, lesson three, lesson four. Show them the positive progress that they’re going to experience over the life of that course, because you need to basically open a bunch of loops and then close them in each lesson. Really, you can also get away with a little bit longer lesson in that window, so if your average lesson is ten minutes, you can get up to an hour, 45 minutes to an hour lesson right out of the gate, because people are going to set aside time to do that. You can frame that for them. You can say, “Hey, first thing we’re going to do. I need you to close everything out, and we’re going to take 45 minutes together. We’re going to walk through where we’re headed over the next few weeks in terms of changing the way that you think about your food for weight loss,” or something like that. That’s really true.

I think the thing about the behavior change course is most people really fail to put things in the path of their student that gives them positive results, so Eben Pagan and his training Wake Up Productive. I mean, the first thing that you do in Wake Up Productive is a course that follows this blueprint pretty much to a T, and Eben does a great job of giving some really high leverage but easy to implement things out of the gate, which is when you’re first starting out, wake up, have a glass of water, do some exercise, have a healthy meal. That’s it. That’s all you’re doing and you do. You have to escape habit gravity, so in his presentation, he has a lot of talk around habit gravity and what that means. You get a concept and you get to do something for a week that’s really simple and easy to do, and so that’s just an example.

Yeah, I think that’s a little teaser for everyone. Text the word “courseblueprint” to 33444, and we’ll get you connected with the first video in the series.

I also do some other kind of fun things. I’m tracking to see how much of each video someone watches, so if they consume the content, they get rewarded. You’ll see what that means if you jump in and consume all the videos. Yeah, that’s a little bit of a sneak peak for everyone.

Chris Badgett: Good deal. Just one more tool in the behavior change that we’ve seen that works is to have a quick start or fast start as like the first thing that people do. Like you said, that motivation is super high, so you can really pack a lot in, but they need to experience wins, like you’re talking about, and escape that habit gravity. If you can do some kind of fast start or quick start in the beginning of your course, it’s not a bad idea.

Joshua Millage: Yeah, absolutely. Right on. We’d love to hear from you and what you think about this. If you want to head over to and leave us a comment on this episode, I know that we would really appreciate it. You could always hit us up on Twitter too, @jmillage and @chris … Is it@chrisbadgett?

Chris Badgett: Yeah, @chrisbadgett.

Joshua Millage: @chrisbadgett. Cool well, until next week. We’ll talk to you soon.

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