Systems Design (ISD) is an established model for developing education.
It is structured around the five phases shown at the right. There are many
appoaches to designing instruction, and in many instances, it is a matter
of choosing what works well for you. By reflecting on the design phase,
this module will help you to think critically about creating effective
The purpose of the
design phase is to select an instructional strategy which will enable learners
to achieve, at optimum cost, the learning/performance objectives defined
in the analysis
phase. Design activities are aimed at defining what needs to be learned,
how it will be learned and how learning will be assessed. The result of
the design phase is typically a content/lesson plan guidance document which
specifies the content, instructional strategies, assessement plans and
1. LEARNER CHARACTERISTICS
In the analysis
phase, we examined some of the attributes of our learners. In the design
phase, these characteristics must be taken into consideration if the instructional
program is to be appropriate and effective. The instruction is more likely
to be successful if it is adapted to what learners already know about the
subject matter and the ways in which they will learn best. Other factors
such as the size and location of the learning group may also affect decisions
on how the material is delivered.
Sources of information
to identify learner characteristics are evaluation forms, personnel who
are knowledgeable about the learners, and/ or data gathering methods such
as questionnaires, threshold knowledge tests, interviews, focus groups
and observations. Personal experience on the part of many faculty/designers
at CIHI will also be a valuable source of learner information
= foundation for content design
What types of content and learning activities will appeal to this group
ways of making the learning interesting and relatable by bridging-in things
that are familiar to the learners. Examine the 2-minute tutorial on
purpose of this process is to determine exactly what to teach so that the
learner will achieve the learning objectives that were specified in the
phase. Instructional analysis begins with an examination of the learning
objectives in order to identify the component skills, knowledge and/or
attitudes that the learner will require to achieve them. In other words,
determine everything a participant needs to learn. The components and sub-components
are then grouped and placed in a sequence suitable for learning. At this
point, you can arrange the goals, learning outcomes and terminal and enabling
objectives into an initial course structure that will help you to develop
Arrange the topics
and sub-topics so that the relationships among topics can be identified.
Establish a sequence that is logical. Usually, the content is delivered
in a linear fashion, that is, one skill or concept is introduced before
another, sometimes moving from the simple to the more complex. There are
other possible sequences that you may find work better for you and/or your
learners. A lesson plan is a description of the sequence of activities
that will take place to achieve all of the instructional objectives. This
will also help you to describe the aids, devices and other resources needed
to meet the objectives.
What are the relationships between topics? What is the best sequence of
topics and tasks?
your goals, learning outcomes and terminal and enabling objectives into
units, topics and sub-topics. Analyze the relationships between sub-topics
so that an instructional map may be created for a lesson plan.
3. LEARNING ASSESSMENT
plan establishes the overall strategy for testing. It specifies how achievement
of the learning objectives will be assessed, including how the learner
progresses through them. Whether you are planning any combination of a
workshop, e-learning or self-study package, testing is an important part
of the instruction. Different types of tests can measure achievement of
learning objectives and/or progress.
are the best way to confirm if the learner has the skills required to perform
a task. By examining the learning outcomes and objectives from the analysis
phase, you can devise practical tests that actually demonstrate the learner's
ability to do the job! It may be that you want to test each step along
the way, or just the final product. Practical test items are of three general
types, all of which are based on observation of actual performance of the
job task: checklist, rating scale and anecdotal record. Be sure to pilot
your practical tests with a knowledgeable collegue first!
are used to test achievement of knowledge and learner progress. They measure
the mastery of facts, concepts and principles. Theory tests are usually
in the form of a written quiz, where the learner selects available options
(i.e. - multiple choice) or supplies an answer. Although the emphasis should
be on practical testing, theory tests can be effective supplements to the
It may not be feasible
to completely test the performance of some tasks or test every part of
a large body of knowledge. In such cases, sampling is used to select a
representative performance. Practical tests may focus on the most important
or most difficult elements of the performance. Theory tests may use a random
sample of sufficient size to represent overall knowledge of the subject
matter, and may include oral or written tests.
learning objectives + creation of tests = learning assessment plan
What aspects of performance, skills, knowledge or attitudes need to be
your learning outcomes and objectives and create the appropriate testing
of this step of the design phase is to identify viable instructional strategies
and make preliminary cost estimates for each. This will ensure that the
subsequent selection of an instructional strategy is based on the consideration
of the learning/performance objectives, the target learner population and
the cost, rather than unfounded assumptions about a particular approach.
strategy is the combination of methods, media and environment used to deliver
instruction – in other words, how the subject matter will be taught.
Table 1 - A Few Examples
of Methods, Media and Environment
Methods are the first
component of an instructional strategy to be addressed. The term method
refers to the type of learning activity, such as demonstration-performance,
case study or lecture. The aim is to identify methods that have a
high probability of promoting learning, and transferring learning to the
job. Methods can be generally classified into the following categories:
communication of cognitive information.
learner participation in the communication process.
learn at their own pace.
perform in a real or simulated setting.
Table 2 - The Attributes
of Various Methods
If learning is to
occur, the methods must be consistent with the objectives. For example,
a lesson on a procedure will require a different method from a lesson on
a concept or principle. It is therefore important to determine what type
of learning is involved in each objective. Based on whether just recall
of information or comprehension or even analysis is required will dictate
the method of instruction. Doing a task will obviously indicate a completely
It also helps to
know a little about learning theory so that you can take advantage of methods
that work best. You may want to review the module on Considering
How We Learn for an updated perspective on the different ways that
individuals learn. This can help you develop your own style of designing
instruction that will engage your learners, so that learning becomes meaningful,
understood, shared, deeply processed, retained, built-upon and of course...
The term medium refers
to the means of delivering instructional activities to the learner. Some
examples of media are computers, printed texts, and video conferencing.
In the context of identifying an instructional strategy, an instructor
is also considered to be a medium. To be instructionally effective, a medium
or combination of media must be able to provide all the inputs, or stimuli,
that are essential to learning. In general terms these are:
There is an enormous
variety of instructional media to choose with developments in technology
constantly adding new possibilities. In order to achieve optimum efficiency
ininstruction, media must be considered from the perspective of cost-effectiveness.
The application of technology to achieve cost savings should be investigated
unless there is a clear requirement for an instructor-led approach. In
general, technology-based instruction is more expensive to develop than
classroom instruction, but the delivery costs can be much lower. For example,
technology-based instruction may be cost-effective when the target population
is large and geographically dispersed.
Presentation or demonstration.
Application or practice.
A good instructional
strategy should employ a combined or blended approach, using a variety
of methods, media and environments. This could include a mix of paper-based,
e-learning and instructor-led approaches in a variety of enviroments to
suit various learning objectives.
should be reviewed along with the learner characteristics to determine
which strategies are preferred. For example, if there is a wide variety
of skill levels among learners, self-directed, pre-workshop e-learning
may be suitable, but if the learners are not computer savy, it may not.
The abilities of the instructional staff may also affect the identification
of strategies. If instructors are not comfortable or familiar with a particular
approach, it is not likely to be effective. When you identify discrepencies
such as these, you can modify the strategy or train the individuals.
is used to directly support the decision to select and approve a particular
strategy (or as a basis for a detailed costs benefit analysis). The main
question to be asked regarding costs concerns the cost per student for
a particular instructional strategy for a given number of students over
the expected life of the learning. Generating a cost estimate involves
determining expense categories, and generating estimates for each category.
Costs may be estimated by using actual costs of previous or similar projects,
or by constructing estimates for each category based upon research.
By considering the
range of options available, you can now begin to implement the optimum
approaches. Normally, the option that meets the need at the lowest cost
will be selected, but the proposed strategies are first reviewed to confirm
their potential for enabling the target learners to achieve the learning/performance
objectives. The education department can assist you with determining what
is available and practical for your learning package.
ability to meet
objectives + learner/instructor characteristics + costs = instructional
What methods, media and environments will work best? How will the learner
and instructor characteristics affect your choices? What are the associated
costs with various methods and appoaches?
cost effective approaches that will work best for all of the people involved
in the learning endeavour.
5. SPECIFY YOUR
final step of the design phase, the results of the preceding steps are
compiled and integrated into a coherent plan that will specify what must
be learned, how it will be learned and how learning will be assessed. The
content/lesson plan should contain the following information:
and design activites = content plan
A general statement
of the intended outcome of the program.
A summary of the
relevant information obtained by defining the learner
Content and structure
A detailed plan
of the subject matter, indicating learning outcomes, learning/performance
objectives and their interrelationships.
The assessment plan
and test specifications.
An overview of the
approved instructional strategy with a brief rationale for its selection.
on all aspects of a lesson. This should include all of the information
created in the process so far.
A list of the facilities,
personnel, equipment and materials required for the learners to successfully
complete the objectives. This includes printed materials, Web resources,
text books, etc.
A sound implementation
plan should define the project management requirements (activities,
resources, responsibilities and timings) and a communications strategy
(information, promotion, technical support, etc.).
questions: Have I addressed all of the previous key questions and
activities so far?
all data from previous activities into a content plan.
available in demo.