Backwards design is a way for us to make decisions about our instruction sessions upfront before we step into the classroom. It is a way for us to structure our sessions with our learning goals in mind in order for us to be able to better help our students reach those goals. This works the same for both face-to-face and online courses.
For more information in Information Literacy and Instructional Design, check out the blog Information Literacy by Design: http://ulinstructors.web.unc.edu/
Backwards design is a way to structure the learning in your course around a goal. You start with what you want the students to know, then figure out how they will know it, and finally how you will facilitate this knowing.
Backwards Design (Wiggins and McTighe, 2005)
Follow this formula to create a learning outcome. For example, I want my students to evaluate sources in order to choose appropriate information for their topic. So, my learning outcome is
Students will be able to use given criteria to evaluate three sources in order to choose the most appropriate source for a research inquiry.
Blooms Taxonomy helps you avoid words like "know" or "understand" when writing a learning outcome. You'll be able to much better assess student learning if you have the students demonstrate their learning by summarizing something (understanding), locating something (remembering), or experimenting with something (evaluating).