As mentioned elsewhere, I’m an advocate of a ‘backward’ instructional design model: one where we start with identifying the intended outcomes (how the learning intervention will change the learner) and ways of assessing them, and then come up with learning activities and optimal ways of presenting content.
Having said that, another important thing to incorporate in the overall learning design is ways of getting feedback from learners about the effectiveness and usability of the learning experience. Ideally, this should go beyond the standard end-of-term evaluation form: online learning experiences should be flexible and adaptive enough to modify them during implementation.
Mid-term feedback of this kind could be a quick and easy survey along the lines of “what works well, what could be improved, any other comments”. There are various tools to do that: VLE’s built-in survey tools, external poll/survey apps like Poll Everywhere or Survey Monkey, online notice boards like Padlet, etc.
This will give the learning design team an important insight into the quality of the online experience for the participants. Another benefit, especially if feedback is noticeably taken on board and changes are implemented, is related to online presence: students feel that they have a platform to voice their attitudes and that their voice is being heard.
More resources on online learning design
Online Learning Insights on student feedback
Online Learning Insights on resources for course design
Big Dog and Little Dog’s Performance Juxtaposition – excellent resource!
Top tools for learning – all of them in one place!
iNACOL’s standards for quality online courses with useful defining dimensions of blended learning models
Designing an online course with examples of good practice
Course design framework – very useful
Planning and designing a blended or online course