Dr. Barbara Martin — Lead Author
Educational Consultant, Former Professor

Download PDF of Best Practices #3: Developing a Quality Course


As the number of solar installations has soared in this country, so has the need for high-quality courses to teach installers how to design, install, and sell solar systems effectively. The quality of courses that have been developed over the years ranges from highly effective (with stated learning objectives, student participation, and assessments) to poorly designed and executed (using what we often call the “sit and get” strategy).

Most courses have suffered from lack of a good description of the job for which they prepare students. That is, there have not been reliable job task analyses (JTA). In addition, some courses have omitted one or more of the following: clearly stated objectives, effective tests and assessments, interactive classes, hands-on labs, and good equipment.

This paper explores the process of developing a quality course, unit, or lesson and the instructional models and practices that can be used for solar education and training. It includes a discussion of the broad concept of a systematic program plan and how to use instructional systems design (ISD) to develop such a plan. It shows how one type of ISD model — Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation and Evaluation (ADDIE) — can be used to design and develop a course or workshop.


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