Why Instructional System Design?
Besides Instructional System Design (ISD), there are several traditional systematic approaches to training such as Performance-Based Training (PBT) and Criterion Referenced Instruction (CRI). These approaches have some common elements:
- Competency Based (Job Related): The learners are required to master a Knowledge, Skill, or Attitude (KSA). The training focuses on the job by having the learners achieve the criteria or standards necessary for proper task performance.
- Sequential: Lessons are logically and sequentially integrated.
- Tracked: A tracking system is established that allows changes and updates to the learning materials to be performed efficiently.
- Evaluated: Evaluation and corrective action allows continuous improvement and maintenance of training information that reflects current status and conditions.
Instructional System Design (ISD) models differ from Instructional Design (ID) models in that ISD models have a broad scope and typically divide the instruction design process into five phases (van Merriënboer, 1997, pp 2-3):
In addition, ISD uses formative evaluations in each of the five phases and a summative evaluation at the end of the process.
On the other hand, Instructional Design (ID) normally only focus on the design and somewhat on the analysis parts, thus they are avle to fill in the specific aspects of the design process.
Thus ISD is used to guide the entire process of creating the learning platform, while various ID models are plugged into it to fill in the blank spots (van Merriënboer, 1997).
For more information, see ADDIE Timeline Model.
So, why ISD? Simply stated, the ISD model provides a means for sound decision making in order to determine the who, what, when, where, why, and how of a learning program. The concept of a system approach is based on obtaining an overall view of the learning process. It is characterized by an orderly process for gathering and analyzing collective and individual performance requirements, and by the ability to respond to identified training needs. The application of a systems approach insures that learning programs and the required support materials are continually developed in an effective and efficient manner to match the variety of needs in a rapidly changing environment. (Branson, 1975)
Note that ISD is sometimes referred to as ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implement, Evaluate) or SAT (System Approach to Training) . Although there are minor difference among the various ISD models, most systematic learning design models follow an approach similar to the ADDIE model:
- Analyze the performance environment in order to understand it and then describe the goals needed in order to correct any performance deficiencies (identify training requirements).
- Design a process to achieve your goals, that is correct the performance deficiencies.
- Develop your initial discoveries and process into a product that will assist the learners into becoming performers (in training, this product is often called courseware).
- Implement by delivering the courseware to the learners.
- Evaluate the performers, courseware, and audit-trail throughout the four phases and in the working environment to ensure it is achieving the desired results.
When some people see or hear the word “system”, they often think of mega-methodologies that require several bookcases and intense training to use. ISD is not that difficult or complicated. The ISD model was designed to solve human performance problems related to learning or training (U.S. Department of Defense, 1975). The figure shown below is a flowchart of the ISD model. It was first established by Florida State University in conjunction with the Department of Defense, but can now be found in almost any type of organization (Watson, 1981). It grew out of the “systems analysis” concepts that became popular after World War II and is probably the most extensively used instructional design model in use today.
The flowchart model shown above lists the five phases along with their basic steps. While it does a good job of showing the processes and steps, it does not really show the dynamics of the ISD model. In addition, it only shows a selected number of steps under each phase that may or may not be needed for a particular learning process and omits steps that may be needed for a particular learning process. A better diagram is achieved using the following model:
This figure highlights the importance of evaluation and feedback throughout the entire training program. It also stresses the importance of gathering and distributing information in each of the five phases and shows the training process is NOT a waterfall model (static and linear), but rather an iterative flow of activities (dynamic and iterative, or spiraling).
Jeroen Merriënboer (1997) noted that while the ISD model may be listed in linear order (as shown in the first model), it is typically performed in an iterative and cyclic fashion. Hence the need to better diagram the model in the second figure.
The five phases are ongoing activities that continue throughout the life-cycle of a learning program. After building the learning program, the other phases do not end once the learning process has began, but are continually repeated as new challenges are encountered.
The ISD model is a tool for solving many types of performance problems. But, designers must step back to see where they are going, otherwise the tool will control them, instead of them controlling the tool.
This outline briefly covers the major steps in older and more traditional ISD models. The process used in this guide uses newer research and ideas, thus it differs somewhat from these steps.
- Determine business outcome or linkage.
- Analyze system (department, job, etc.) to gain an understanding of it.
- Compile a task inventory of all tasks associated with each job (if needed).
- Select tasks that people need to learn to become performers (needs analysis).
- Build performance measures for the tasks to be learned.
- Choose instructional setting for the tasks to be learned, e.g. classroom, elearning, on-the-job, self study, blended, etc.
- Estimate cost and compare to benefits gained.
- Develop the learning objectives, to include both terminal and enabling objectives.
- Identify and list the learning steps required to perform the task.
- Develop performance tests to show mastery of the tasks.
- List the entry behaviors that the learner must demonstrate prior to entering the learning program.
- Sequence and structure the learning objectives.
- List activities that will help the students learn the task.
- Select the delivery methods (media).
- Review existing material so that you do not reinvent the wheel.
- Develop the instructional courseware.
- Synthesize the courseware into a viable learning program.
- Validate the instruction to ensure it accomplishes all goals and objectives.
- Create a management plan for conducting the training.
- Conduct the training.
- Review and evaluate each phase (analyze, design, develop, implement) to ensure it is accomplishing what it is supposed to.
- Perform external evaluations, e.g. observe that the tasks that were trained can actually be performed by the learners in their working environment.
- Revise training system to make it better and to meet future challenges.
Next section: Systems and Processes
Read the History of ISD
Read the ADDIE Timeline Model
Return to the Table of Contents
Branson, R. K. (principal investigator) (1975). Interservice procedures for instructional systems development: Executive summary and model. Tallahassee, FL: Center for Educational Technology, Florida State University. (National Technical Information Service, 5285 Port Royal Rd., Springfield, VA 22161. Document Nos. AD-A019 486 to AD-A019490).
U.S. Army Field Artillery School (1984). A System Approach To Training (Course Student textbook). ST - 5K061FD92
U.S. Department of Defense Training Document (1975). Pamphlet 350-30. August, 1975.
van Merriënboer, J. J. G. (1997). Training Complex Cognitive Skills: A Four-Component Instructional Design Model for Technical Training. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.
Watson, Russell (October 1981). Instructional System Development. In a paper presented to the International Congress for Individualized Instruction. EDRS publication ED 209 239.