Instr Design

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Instructional Design for Everyone

by Hank Javora

Introduction

The following is an outline of the Instructional Design process, which hopefully will be of some use for further exploration by you if you are not already familiar with the subject. I believe that the subject and techniques of Instructional design should be popularized so that men and women on the street can put it to use for themselves or for others with whom they wish to share their knowledge.

Instructional Design (ID) is a method derived from the field of Instructional Technology, which was defined in 1994 by the Association for Educational Communications and Technology as:

... the  theory and practice of design, development, utilization, management and evaluation of processes and resources for learning.

The field took off during the Second World War when it was necessary to train thousands of men and women for war work. Training films, audio recording, transparencies, and slides were developed in an environment friendly to experiment. The role of the instructional technologist began to separate from the role of the subject matter expert (SME). 

After the war, ID became a formal discipline based on what was learned during the conflict and on input from psychologists and practitioners in the field. Programmed instruction based on behavioral objectives came along in the 1950s based on B.F. Skinner's work on operant conditioning, which featured experiments with rats in cages. The effects of different schedules of positive and negative reinforcement on the learning of the experimental animals were studied in detail. At that time Benjamin Bloom categorized different kinds of educational objectives.

In the 1960s early workers in the field such as Robert Glaser and Robert Gagne expounded on the conditions of learning and the criteria to be used for determining the effectiveness of instruction. It was realized that the usual norm-based tests were not satisfactory to assess instructional systems.

By the 1970s, ID many models were developed. The idea of determining when instruction is required crystallized. The significance of input from  psychologists was duly noted.

In the 1980s, computer began to enter the scene in big way. Instruction went big time into industry.  The 1990s saw many big firms incorporate the equivalent of a university into their structure to train their  people. 

In the New Millennium training has begun to become popularized with the awesome power of the Internet and the wide availability of cheap computer power. Indeed, the Ford Motor Company has recently decided to provide Internet access and powerful PC to 370,000 of its workers worldwide at nominal cost. They have faith that their employees will become better workers attuned to the Information Age.

In the 1980s, computer began to enter the scene in big way. Instruction went big time into industry, which was thrust into the technology race.  It is ironic that the industry rather than the academic community became the champion of ID. The 1990s saw many big firms incorporate the equivalent of a university into their structure to train their people. 

In the New Millennium training has begun to become popularized with the awesome power of the Internet and the wide availability of cheap computer power. Indeed, the Ford Motor Company has recently decided to provide Internet access and powerful PCs to 370,000 of its workers worldwide at nominal cost. They have faith that their employees will become better workers attuned to the Information Age.

These workers and the millions of others like them who are taking up the challenge can benefit from a popularization of the ID field. It will help them identify and choose quality instruction, and it can empower them to develop their own instruction for whatever  purpose they choose. 

Without some guiding model, ordinary folks typically use intuition or guesswork to choose or to provide instruction. The archives are full of so-called instruction about almost every subject under the son - How I built my rocket ship that landed on the moon in my back yard.  The problem with written instructions is that even if the author's claims are true, the readers are left without a clue on how to reproduce the author's knowledge for themselves. There are many reasons why "instruction" may not transfer knowledge to learners. An important one is that no formal model for instruction was followed in the design.

Many models for the design of instruction have been developed. The ADDIE model (analyze, design, develop, implement and evaluate) has become a generic one  which contains the essential elements of other variations that have been constructed. I've added two steps in  my model, create and personalize,  which I consider essential. I also emphasize the point the analysis of instructional needs should not address itself exclusively to problems.

The academic world likes analysis because it is relatively easy to handle, but analysis alone can place restrictive boundaries around your thinking. Paralysis by analysis is more than a cute saying. I have personally seen it ruin projects. Analysis breaks things down into component parts and relationships. Synthesis, constructing a whole from existing parts, is thought to be the opposite of analysis, but it rarely creates something new as it is working with old parts. Analysis and synthesis are different sides of the same coin, although synthesis may, at time, be more challenging.

What is needed is a step that provides freedom for creative thinking, which I believe is at least as important as analysis on any complex project, especially in the early stages. Creation brings into existence things or an awareness of things that did not exits before. It also makes use of intuition, which is often missing from hard  core analytic work. Thus I've added the creative step to  the model. 

In addition,  I've modified the typical approach to analysis and assessment of learner characteristics.  I will leave detail discussion of these steps to later installments of this article.

A generic model for Instructional Design with two added elements is represented in the table below. The steps can be take in different orders, but they continue to cycle until the desired instruction is created.  

                 The ACPDDIE  Model for Instruction Design                               


Analyze

Create

Personalize

Repeat

Design


Evaluate

Implement

Develop

Next

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