I am currently in the process of designing and developing an online course. This is a compilation of information I will need to get my course started. It contains a course introduction which provides an overview of what the course is about, why the information is important to them, and how we plan to help the prospective learners retain this knowledge.  When designing any course it is imperative to know who your learners will be. We must take into consideration who our target audience will be during the design and development stages to ensure we provide sufficient resources and materials. When developing an online course, it is extremely important to have clear concise goals set forth before the any building, construction, or design takes place. These learning goals, desired results, and course objectives make sure we stay on track as we progress throughout the course from start to finish. I have also developed a tentative course outline to help me break up the course sections and plan corresponding learning activities to help our learners stay active and engaged. Establishing these items early also helps eliminate potentially skipping important information that could result in our students receiving insufficient knowledge and training before entering the workforce! The last item I worked on this week is a rough draft of the course materials I may use throughout the course. This is an important step in the beginning phase of course design because we may need to obtain permission to use certain resources and if we wait until the last minute to research this, we could possibly run out of time and not be able to use a valuable resource for the class.

Feel free to take a look. If you notice anything that may not line up or work smoothly, please let me know. Any and all feedback is welcomed and appreciated!


PLCs, or Programmable Logic Controllers, are widely used throughout the instrumentation and automation industries. This field of study is challenged with continuously adapting and growing as the technology available to various companies continues to advance. At LIT, we strive to provide our students with the latest and greatest training ensuring training and knowledge to perform in a competitive, growing field. Upon completion of this course, students will become efficient PLC programmers capable of collaboratively implementing effective troubleshooting techniques gained through designing, developing, and running an Automation Solution Program used to solve an authentic field-based problem.

Target Audience:

  • Higher Education students majoring in Instrumentation Technology
  • Employees in the instrumentation or automation industries seeking continuing education

Learning Goals:

  • Learners will discover principles and fundamentals of PLCs. Learners will analyze how these components will become the foundational base of programming to solve field-based problems.
  • Learners will analyze and evaluate the impact of efficient troubleshooting skills.
  • Learners will illustrate how their knowledge of PLCs combined with prior learning experiences will benefit their future field work and inspire automation integration.
  • Learners evaluate the beneficial impact their creative PLC programming will have in the automation industry.
  • Learners will locate and evaluate outside resources to enhance in-class learning as well as continue future learning.

Desired Results:

  • Established Goals:
    • Identify and apply the basic concepts of Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs)
    • Design, implement, and troubleshoot a complex PLC program to solve authentic learning problems
  • Understandings- Students will understand that:
    • PLCs play a major role in the industrial field, as well as many others.
    • PLC programming is an essential skill set for field technicians.
    • Troubleshooting logic can be cross-referenced with many other instrumentation systems.
    • Designing PLC programs requires creative thinking and attention to detail.
    • The authentic problems we work to solve in class are directly field related
  • Essential Questions:
    • Why are PLCs used?
    • Will I ever use this in the field?
    • How can I be a more efficient programmer?
    • Why do I need to be able to troubleshoot the programs?
    • How can my safety be affected by my actions?
    • How can we use our prior experiences to help us design and build PLC programs?
  • Students will know:
    • Key Terms: I/O section, memory, processor, Examine-If-Closed, Examine-If-Open, troubleshoot, ladder-logic, true, and false.
    • The difference between hardwired relay and ladder-logic
    • Names and functions of PLC instructions
    • 5 common logic gates and the outcomes of each gate based on certain inputs
    • Decimal, binary, octal, hexadecimal, and BCD numbering systems
  • Students will be able to:
    • Convert to and from each numbering system
    • Design and create PLC programs to solve real world automation problems
    • Evaluate and troubleshoot PLC programs to locate and correct errors preventing proper downloading
    • Utilize outside resources to enhance continued learning
    • Relate course material to prior learning experiences and future applications

Course Outline:

  • Week One:
    • Goal-
      • Learners will discover principles and fundamentals of PLCs. Learners will analyze how these components will become the foundational base of programming to solve field-based problems.
    • Learning Activities-
      • Research and review images, videos, and other online resources on PLC parts and components from various manufacturers.
      • Review wiring diagrams and schematics from previous classes, and redesign them as PLC ladder logic programs
      • Discuss and compare when to use the different PLC instruction types and logic forms.
    • Assessment-
      • Design the base structure for the Automation Solution Program.
  • Week Two:
    • Goal-
      • Learners will analyze and evaluate the impact of efficient troubleshooting skills.
    • Learning Activities-
      • Collaborate with classmates as they troubleshoot various PLC programs.
      • Discuss automation techniques, solutions, and challenges.
    • Assessment-
      • Locate, view, and correct errors within the base of the Automation Solution Program.
      • Reflective Blog Post
  • Week Three:
    • Goal-
      • Learners will illustrate how their knowledge of PLCs combined with prior learning experiences will benefit their future field work and inspire automation integration.
    • Learning Activities-
      • Research, review, and discuss the top field-preferred PLC manufacturers, create a graphic tool comparing the different programming software available for each manufacturer displaying the comparison.
      • Discuss how the fundamental knowledge of PLCs builds and expounds on prior learnings, and will continue to impact future work experience.
    • Assessment-
      • Reflective Blog Post
      • Incorporate logical circuits from various systems into the Automation Solution Program.
  • Week Four:
    • Goal-
      • Learners evaluate the beneficial impact their creative PLC programming will have in the automation industry.
    • Learning Activities-
      • Review and discuss complex PLC instructions such as timers and counters, then split into groups to practice designing and developing advanced programs to automate processes efficiently.
      • Review learning experiences completed to this point within the class, and discuss what we have, and have not completed that students want to learn more about.
    • Assessment-
      • Collaboratively design and include complex PLC functions into the Automation Solution Program.
      • Blog Post comparing original class reflection to current reflection.
  • Week Five:
    • Goal-
      • Learners will locate and evaluate outside resources to enhance in-class learning as well as continue future learning.
    • Learning Activities-
      • Research and discuss several outside resources, simulation programs, PLC videos, forums, or PLC programming tutorials that will help enhance student learning.
      • Finalize Automation Solution Program.
    • Assessment-
      • Present Automation Solution Program to the class, as a team, for a shared-lessons learned.
      • Final Reflective Blog Post

Course Materials:

  • PowerPoint presentations from the textbook publisher McGraw-Hill
    • These presentations are provided to me as an instructor with rights to reproduce for educational purposes
  • YouTube videos
    • I will provide useful tutorial videos over various manufacture equipment and software
    • Students will share videos they find beneficial to this course and collaborate with each other on resource networking
  • Screenshots of PLC programming software
    • We have an institutional license for several versions of programming software. I will share still images of many items to help students understand the information thoroughly
  • PDF files of wiring diagrams and schematics
    • These will come from previous classes the students have completed. We will use them to make cross-curriculum connections, and identify the PLCs job duties and purpose in field settings