The Understanding by Design framework for Instructional Design and Curriculum Development offers a planning process and structure for Instructional Designers. The UbD model helps guide curriculum, assessment, and instruction.

Sometimes referred to as “backward planning” or “backward design” (or sometimes even: “…that’s what that’s called?”) the two key ideas of Understanding by Design (UbD) are contained in the title:

  1. Focus on teaching and assessing for understanding and learning transfer
  2. Design curriculum “backward” from those ends.

I am currently completing an edX certification course in Instructional Design Models. For one of my projects, I was tasked with creating a UbD template for the following training scenario:

Scenario: Technology-Based Learning 

Goal: to help elementary teachers at a school identify technology components for classroom use.

Role: Instructional Technologist tasked with developing a program to train teachers on implementing technology-based learning.

Audience: Elementary school teachers (K-6) with a diverse technology understanding and skill set.

Task: Develop an implementation plan for teachers to select and apply technology assets for student learning, applying UbD standards, processes, and suggested best practices to the information provided in this scenario.

The UbD steps are as follows:

  • Step 1: Identify desired results
  • Step 2: Determine a method of assessment
  • Step 3: Plan instruction and learning experiences

Here is my UbD template for this scenario:

  • Step 1: Identify desired results. For this scenario, the desired results are to increase student (and parent) engagement and knowledge transfer through the use of digital technology. The use of technology can improve knowledge transfer and retention, as well as boost student and parent engagement. Additionally, teachers may not be as tech-savvy or might simply be too busy to learn (or implement) new technologies into use during their classroom instruction. The better the teachers understand how to use these technologies for instruction purposes, the better they will be able to assist their students in using these technologies – and in communicating the curriculum to the students. Ideally, at the end of this training, teachers will understand how to use the tools; why it benefits them to use these technologies; and feel confident and motivated to use these technologies as part of instruction.Ask: what technological tools (hardware, software, or online/digital) make the most sense for our goals, objectives, and students’ needs? How can we best present this technology to teachers in a way that they understand it, are not overwhelmed, retain the information (overcome the Forgetting Curve), and feel confident using these technologies for classroom instruction?
  • Step 2: Determine a method of assessment. Teachers will be assessed on their ability to use the specific technology (for example, an LMS system or a reporting software) for grading, classroom administrative tasks, and blended learning or eLearning instruction. It is important to research and select the proper technologies to be implemented into instructional design for this class. This might involve collaborating with the IT department to ensure all teachers and students have proper access to any required hardware/software/technology prior to instruction.A formative assessment process might apply to technologies where the teacher is responsible for training a student and/or parent on technology usage. Summative assessments might include peer review or occasional team/supervisor review. Depending upon which technology is used, it might be possible to generate a report. Reports could be used to ensure that technology is being properly included in classroom instruction, and to determine the effectiveness of technology-based instruction. Research could be done before/during/after training, through a poll, survey or interview (for example), to measure the teachers’ comfort levels with the technology and to get an idea for how often (and in what ways) the technology is being used during classroom instruction.
  • Step 3: Plan instruction and learning experiences.  The instruction could start with an introduction/explanation and a video demonstration of how to complete a task using the hardware/software (for example: logging into the system). You could conduct a demonstration in the classroom and allow the staff to follow along for hands-on experience. Point out if there are any differences between what the teachers will see with their permissions versus what students and parents might see (if this is an LMS or software system that students and parents also have access to from home). Afterwards, allow the staff to take turns demonstrating their knowledge. 


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