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Unicon's Philosophy of Instructional Design

When Robert M. Gagne published The Conditions of Learning, he may not have realized that his desire to find better ways to teach people would blossom into the field we know as Instructional Design. Today, there are many different instructional design theories, models, and approaches that you can use. In fact, you may find that some firms adhere strictly to one instructional design model. At Unicon, we don’t take a "one size fits all" approach because our clients and their learners are not all alike.

After a few decades working as instructional designers, my colleagues at Unicon know that regardless of the theory, model, or approach that we decide to use, there are four tenets that we always prioritize in our instructional design:

  • The primary student audience is well understood
  • The technology used is appropriate
  • Obstacles to learning are removed
  • Learners are appropriately assessed

Four tenets of instructional design


At Unicon, we know that students learn best when:

  • The primary student audience is well understood:
    • We prepare students to learn using focused learning objectives for the course.
    • We apply age-appropriate learning theory and instructional approaches.
    • Materials created for instruction are based primarily on the student’s needs.
    • We engage students and encourage higher-level learning using active learning strategies.
  • The technology used is appropriate:
    • We engage a variety of modalities to suit the needs of all students.
    • We use online (through the LMS and social media) and classroom peer learning to develop and share multiple perspectives on the content.
    • Presentation and practice materials utilize technologies that are appropriate to the learning challenge.
  • Obstacles to learning are removed:
    • We use language that is appropriate to the primary student audience and English as Second Language (ESL) students.
    • We create content to be as easy as possible to localize (both language and culture)
    • We create content that is accessible (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines).
  • Learners are appropriately assessed:
    • We create a variety of formative and summative testing opportunities.
    • We create opportunities for peer-assessment and self-assessment.

The benefits of well-designed online and blended learning are quantified in good student satisfaction rates, completion rates, and test scores. Our instructional designers are here to help you turn your subject matter expertise into rich and engaging online content.

Special thanks to our fellow Instructional Designer, Martin Benson for his insights into this blog.

Jane Gibbons

Jane Gibbons

Instructional Designer
I’m Jane Gibbons, an instructional designer here at Unicon. I have a master’s degree in Educational Technology and have been working as an instructional designer for many years. I have worked for small vendors with big clients and as an employee of large Silicon Valley companies. I was an independent contractor for several years before I hit the jackpot by being hired by the good folks at Unicon.