Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My beef with Instructional System Design (ISD)

After presenting a two week module on Instructional System Design and ADDIE I present the following counter point to my students.

In the field of instructional technology you will hear touted the importance of Instructional System Design, of which ADDIE is one approach. Having had several careers I have run into this approach to planning in other domains: Management by Design, Individual Service Plans come immediately to mind from my time as an administrator and earlier as a special education teacher. ISD is popular among the accountability set.

To begin I'd like to say that ISD has a lot going for it.
  • It is valuable to think of any kind of plan or design in a systematic way.
  • It is important to think of planning/designing as being a constantly evolving process, one which you frequently evaluate and refine (the ADDIE model is laid out in an iterative cycle).
  • Tools, frameworks, templates, acronyms etc. that provide us with steps and easy checklists are helpful.
For these reasons, it is advisable to memorize the ADDIE (Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, Evaluate) acronym and make sure that you have considered each step.

It is not what is in ADDIE that bugs me; it is what is not in ADDIE. Education is more than inputs and outputs. As you plan your courses please consider these aspects of teaching.

  1. The act of teaching is made up of equal jane's isdparts teaching technique and relationship building. How can my instructional design support positive relationships with and among my students?
  2. All minds are different. Each of my students brings a differing experience, beliefs and uniquely shaped schema that affect how they engage with what I am trying to teach. How will my instructional design support shared understanding and openness to new perspectives?
  3. Learning is a dynamic process that sometimes goes in unexpected yet important directions. Can flexibility be built into my instructional design so that it responds to student interest and inquiry while still getting the job done.
  4. We hold beliefs about the way people learn. Our instructional designs should reflect that. As part of the design process I think we must ask ourselves What do I believe about how people learn? Followed by the question, Given that I am teaching on-line, in a classroom, on a boat, how can I design my instruction to match my learning theory?
So help me come up with an acronym for something like: Relationships, Differing Minds, Dynamic Process and Learning Theory and we can create a unified theory of instructional design.


Jane Wilde in RL/Esme Qunhua in SL said...

Thought I'd mention some of my students suggestions:

Individual Differences
Theories of Learning



Relationship building
Uniquely shaped schema
Dynamic process
Educational and learning theories
Really responsive

and with a beautiful graphic of building blocks: REBUILD

UnIquey shaped schema
Learning theories
Dyanamic process

Jane Wilde in RL/Esme Qunhua in SL said...

Beliefs - our beliefs about the way people learn
Unexpected inquiry - be prepared to respond to students questions
Relationship building
New perspectives - all our minds are different

Heidi Thibodeau said...

I agree with you that ADDIE doesn't tell the whole story, and I think the four omissions that you are concerned ADDIE omits are important.

Absolutely designers should 1. recognize that learners have different needs, hopes, desires, abilities 2. understand that social learning is powerful and that relationships are important 3. research and understanding of theory is key 4. instruction should be flexible

I guess I would defend ADDIE in the sense that I don't think it misses those things, because it is a description of the process. ADDIE itself doesn't give us any guidance about how to structure learning. I don't think it is meant to be exhaustive of the important concepts, theories, or strategies that a designer should be concerned with at each stage.

Jane Wilde in RL/Esme Qunhua in SL said...

Thanks so much for your feedback. Your note helps me to clarify my thinking on this topic. You are absolutely right that ADDIE as a design process should not be expected to include all things.

On the other hand ADDIE does propose to guide the process for creating learning materials. Learning is a complex human endeavor. ADDIE is a perfectly good guide for producing a product (a nice website). In my opinion it is not an effective guide for producing a learning object (an instructional website) - unless you hold the opinion that if you say it, it will be understood. And this is because it is routed in an industrial model of knowing and learning.