In the rapidly evolving landscape of education, online learning has emerged as a powerful medium for delivering knowledge and skills to learners worldwide. Within this digital realm, instructional designers play a pivotal role in crafting engaging and effective learning experiences.

We are thrilled to share that one of our courses has been honoured with the Award of Excellence and Innovation in Instructional Design by the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE).

Theo 202 – Introduction to Biblical Studies is an asynchronous online course Concordia University offers. It intended to initiate students to the Bible and its study. The course is divided into three parts. The first part focuses on the composition, transmission, translations, and different canons of the Bible. The second part of the course provides an overview of the Hebrew Bible, and the third part concentrates on the New Testament. An overview of the major themes is provided, and specific texts are discussed in more detail. Methodological and theological issues are discussed throughout the course.

The purpose of this course is to provide an academic approach to the content of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, and a practical introduction to the skills required to understand biblical texts. Attention is paid to diverse approaches of interpretation, which are used in historical, literary, or theological studies of the Bible. This course usually helps to recruit students to the theology program; thus, the online version of this course was designed to include activities that would help identify the students with a strong interest in theology.

This online course was born from a rapid COVID response, during which professors moved their courses online and had to learn to teach remotely. The professor for this course, Eric Bellavance, PhD., used video lectures which reflected his ability to use storytelling as a tool to guide students through the content. With a library of these comprehensive videos, Introduction to Biblical Studies was designed as a Masterclass. Leveraging the storytelling lectures, visuals were added for support and interactive elements so that students could be engaged and explore the content – triggering content reveals, definition reveals, and answering questions that challenged common misconceptions about biblical texts.

The course was delivered on the Moodle LMS using a customized eConcordia theme to create an optimal visual presentation and organization of the course and lesson components in a clear manner that simplified navigation. Lesson components had completion checkmarks to allow students to track their progress through the course. In addition, an activity filter can be used to filter lesson and course components by file type to help students find specific content during the review.

Each lesson follows the same design structure, inspired by Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to provide students with an accessible, inclusive, and consistent experience.

Presentation of content (the WHAT of learning):

  • Each lesson begins with a study guide which contains guiding questions for critical thinking and key concepts and terms. This allows students to focus their learning and acts as a study aid.
  • Lectures were broken up into topics instead of one long format. The lectures were divided into two types; some were Storytelling video lectures with added visuals, closed captions, and some interactivity. The other type was narrated slide-based lectures that were designed to be accessible (transcripts, alternative text, accessible mode) and include exploratory interactions such as: clicking to reveal content and definitions, as well as quick-fire questions with feedback to ensure students are keeping their attention on lectures.
  • Live event attendance/recorded sessions of the Biblical Colloquium – allow students to attend a set of lectures to experience a presentation by contemporary researchers in the discipline of theology. The event was used to engage and encourage students to explore the field of Theology. It also showcases current and relevant themes and less traditional or
  • Guest lectures later in the course provided students with perspectives different from the professor’s and introduced different styles of theological discourse.

Assessments (the HOW of learning):

  • Formative: Knowledge checks are present between lecture components to provide formative assessments as students work their way through the content, allowing them to check how well they are intaking information while receiving feedback to provide support and allow for the improvement of understanding.
  • Summative: multi-question-type tests and short essays are used to test knowledge acquisition in different ways. The tests encompass a mix of question types, including multiple-choice, definition, short-answer, and essay questions and allow students to display higher-order thinking and learning. The short essays focus more specifically on critical thinking and

Student engagement and collaboration (the WHY of learning):

  • Discussion forums challenge students to apply their new knowledge with small tasks of analysis, critical thinking, and reflection. It also allows for discourse to develop and form a community of engagement where students can build upon each other’s discussion points.
  • Live Q&A sessions are scheduled as part of lessons and held before tests so the instructor can gauge student progress and allow students to ask questions and engage in discussions.


The course was designed to meet Web Accessibility standards WCAG 2.0. The course includes the following features: closed captions for videos, video and audio transcripts, PDF versions of an interactive timeline, and narrated slide-based lectures with dual modes – full design mode and accessibility mode, which has a scaled-down black and white text-based design. The entirety of the course can be accessed using keyboard shortcuts and screen-reading technology.

The course was also designed with inclusivity in mind by providing different ways for students to receive information and interact with the content.

Moodle LMS allows for large or small cohorts and was designed to support various class sizes. Moodle also allows for grouping students into smaller sections.


Receiving an award for instructional design is a testament to the dedication and hard work that goes into crafting an exceptional online learning experience. By employing innovative instructional strategies and thoughtful design principles, the course effectively created an active learning environment that fosters critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration.