Now that you have decided what you want to teach, and how, it would be most efficient to find out what already exists and make choices about what you want to use and adapt (i.e. reuse). A good place to start is with OER. Whether you use OER or regular copyright resources, or a combination thereof, you should nevertheless ensure all resources align to your overall course design. Read more about choosing, adapting and using OER in the Open Educational Resources section and in section 3.2 of this Guide: Learning Resources.

A team approach to materials design and development is likely to produce quality products if the team is well managed. Teams for materials development usually comprise a content specialist, an educational or instructional designer, a language editor, and a graphic designer. To produce technology-supported learning resources will require additional team members such as technology specialists and web designers.

Materials design is integrally linked to and influenced by course design. Decisions about the purpose and outcomes, target audience, mode of delivery, learning and teaching approaches and methods, content, sequencing and structure, and assessment strategies will significantly impact the design of the materials (see Course Design, section 2 of this Guide). You will continually refine this plan as you adapt or write.   


  • In Section 2.2 of this Guide there are a number of tools that can help you plan a course and weave the golden thread through to the materials design process. For example, review the Course Map (52KB, 1 page) and Module Outline (65KB, 2 pages).
  • Read this reflection on the elements at the heart of effective e-learning design: activity, scenario, feedback, delivery, context and impact, from Andrew R Brown and Bradley D Voltz (2005), Elements of Effective e-Learning Design (International Review of Research  in Open and Distance Learning, 6(1).
  • This Saide case study from 2005, Proposed Strategies for Developing Learning Materials for Use in Colleges,  gives an overview of diverse methods for development of learning materials as well as ideas for building capacity in materials development (110KB, 15 pages).

Context and Target Audience             

You have thought about the target audience and their context in section 2.3 of this Guide: How can we help learners learn? Clarity about the target audience and their context helps you to be sure that the types of resources you choose or develop are supportive of and appropriate for learners.



Knowing the context and target audience allows you to be responsive and thoughtful when structuring the content and identifying suitable learning approaches and methods. When structuring content you make decisions about the content logic and sequence that makes most sense for the course and the target audience. How will you sequence the content/topics to support the development of key concepts and skills? What approach will you use?

  • Concept-based?
  • Topic-based?
  • Task-based?
  • Inquiry-based?
  • Problem-based?

The COL handbook resource provides information about the first three approaches, while the JISC Design Studio article provides more information on the latter two approaches.



Design Review Questions

Now that you have thought more intensively about where to start, check:

  • Review your course design artefacts. How does this influence the development of your materials?
  • Who is in your team to develop the learning materials? Are other roles or people required?