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While all types of instructional design are built upon the essentials detailed in the other sections of this learning path, there are several big movements in education that you might consider as you plan your course.

Competency-Based : Competency-based education follows the philosophy that every learner achieves understanding in a different way and at a different pace. The philosophy has been articulated and researched by Marzano Research associates.

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Competency-Based Education

Read more about our approach in this white paper. The Reinventing Schools approach connects key features of personalized learning with the technical requirements necessary to fully implement a competency-based system. We refer to the approach as personalized competency-based education (PCBE), and it has the following characteristics: Students move on to the next level within a subject area only after they have demonstrated proficiency at the current level.

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In a competency-based course, learners will move through content at their own pace, not moving to the next learning goal until they have demonstrated mastery of the current one. In terms of design, this requires instructors to prepare all materials for the course in advance, provide many different modalities for accessing the content (videos, text, experiments etc.), and create varied assessments. The learners choose their own path through the content and assessments. This sequence of articles on my blog demonstrates how I have implemented the competency-based philosophy in my high school classroom.

Project Based: Project Based Learning follows the philosophy that the most important aspect of learning is authenticity. Learners retain and comprehend content based when it is immediately real and applicable to their lives. The Buck Institute for Education is the pioneer for this type of earning and they provide many resources for implementing it in classrooms here:

 Planning for a project based learning experience requires instructors to use their learning outcomes to design a driving question. The driving question should be engaging and open ended but still require learners to achieve the learning outcomes through the process of exploring solution. Planning also requires instructors to inject authenticity in every place possible: engage audiences or relevant stakeholders, incorporate feedback from professionals outside the classroom, and to create an end product that is true to the experience rather than a test or poster. Here is a blog post that I wrote for Buck about my experience creating a PBL experience in my high school statistics class.

Experiential: Experiential education is the philosophy that the most meaningful learning occurs when we are participating in an authentic experience and reflecting on what that experience has taught us. The following is a great website for getting started with experiential ed:

 In terms of design, experiential ed requires that instructors plan an adventure or experience that is relevant and real for the learners, provide structure for observation by the learners during the experience, provide time for critical thinking, and time for reflection on the learning.


All three of these methods are helpful in assisting learners in expanding their understanding beyond the lesson at hand. Which one you use is usually based on preference and applicability to the learning objectives.