Instructional Design for Health & Wellness Classes

Instructional Design for Health & Wellness Classes

Recently, while talking with my instructional design students, I expressed a certain amount of trepidation about designing an online course focusing on mindfulness & meditation.  The challenge for me, I told them, was that I have no experience in designing instruction to change health behaviors or improve psychomotor skills – especially not online.

Of course, the universe was listening!  A few days later, in my Twitter feed, I saw a registration link for #YogaMOOC.   I was excited because one of my strategies for improving my instructional design skills always involves being a student in a course similar to the one I’m going to design.  It gives me a chance to learn interesting new things unrelated to ID and it also helps me with new instructional design ideas.

I registered for the class, of course!  You can follow my student journey over at my svadhyaya & tapas blog.   In this blog, however, I’ll be reflecting on my experiences from an instructional design perspective. This will be an ongoing series of posts as I try to learn more about designing online courses with a health & wellness focus.  The series will include my reflections on my experiences and any related research.


As an intro to this series, I’m going to start with some questions that came up while I was discussing design plans for the mindfulness & meditation course with the professor teaching the course.  I really need to wrap my head around these more basic things before jumping into any specific analyses (a la ADDIE):

  • What is the best way to teach/support someone who is  trying to change health & wellness behaviors?
    • what learning activities work / don’t work
    • what motivational strategies would be best for the given group
  • What is the most effective way to track off-line work (e.g. meditation, yoga practice, jogging, etc.)
    • would journals be useful?
      • public or private?
    • does community support help?
      • what type and how should it be accomplished?
    • how should be use various mobile apps to help support logging/tracking activities?
  • What strategies will help ensure that folks develop a habit they will stick with after the course ends?
    • Can the community continue to play a part in this?  Should there be some sort of ongoing open community or do we focus on bounded communities?
  • Do we need to include some sort of disclaimer text related to health and where should we do that?


If I had more experience with this type of course, I would probably have a longer list of questions.  However, those questions are enough to get me started researching and applying that to my experiences in the yoga course.   If you’re reading this and you have any design ideas or know of specific research related to ID for health & wellness courses, please feel free to share!

I’m quite excited by the prospect of an online yoga community and for chance to enhance my yoga practice while I’m extending my instructional design knowledge.  This is going to be fun!



3 Responses

  1. Lori Panu says:

    Hi Bethany – I never thought of that. Perhaps I’ll look into publishing it online. Thank you for the suggestion!
    Yes, I am glad you already have a handle on all of those theories. It’s a really fascinating world to get into for program planning.

  2. Lori Panu says:

    Great goals and questions. Public health literature may help you with your first question. I have used & recommend the Social Cognitive Theory for Behavioral Change. Especially articles by Albert Bandura. I cited much from him while doing my thesis on how to increase self-efficacy to exercise for people with mobility/activity restrictions in a chair yoga class.

    • Bethany says:

      Interesting. Thank you. I will check that out. I’m also looking into Transtheoretical Model, Theory of Reasoned Action / Planned Behavior, and a few others. Those models, along with SCT, have several ideas in common: 1) interventions must be individualized, 2) social and personal characteristics both influence the individual, 3) underlying skills having nothing to do with the actual health change (e.g. goal setting, planning, etc.) frequently need to be addressed.

      Your thesis sounds quite interesting. Have you published it online?

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