This handbook has been written for anyone who plans and writes learning materials for use in open and distance learning (ODL). Anyone who is interested in producing better ODL materials will find something of value in this handbook, but the three main target audiences are:

  • teachers
  • instructional designers
  • writers

ODL materials are sometimes prepared by individuals, but more often by small teams made up of people with skills such as curriculum design, instructional design, tutorial support and print or web design skills. This handbook focuses on the instructional design part of the process, although some of the other aspects are dealt with in part.

There are four principal ways in which learning materials are produced:

  • by an instructional designer who is the content-provider and the writer;
  • by an instructional designer who commissions freelance content-providers to write the materials;
  • by an instructional designer who converts text provided by a teacher; or
  • by a team of people, including content-providers, instructional designers and specialists such as audio and video producers.

For simplicity, this handbook addresses primarily the first approach – that in which a single writer is both content-provider and instructional designer. If, however, you are an in-house instructional designer who is commissioning content and expertise from others, then you will need to pass on the advice in this handbook to them. In these circumstances, you are likely to be the only person who specialises in instructional design and you will need to guide the other specialists in applying best practice in instructional design.

Author(s): | Commonwealth of Learning | Richard Freeman |