From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Instructional design, and the more
holistically-based practice Instructional Systems Design,
are technologies of education and instruction. The term
technology is being used in the sense of an applied science.
Instructional Design and Instructional Systems Design are
scientifically derived processes which are intended to optimize
learning gains in knowledge and performance from precisely
engineered (and designed) instruction. It is a common
misunderstanding that Instructional Designers use physical
technology as a method for developing instruction. From a narrow
definition of the term 'technology' this may be true. But
Instructional Designers will tend to prefer to use the term
'media', instead of technology, when referring to the
instructional delivery vehicles that they employ
A useful reference to the history of Instructional Design can
be found in The evolution of American educational technology
by Paul Saettler (1990). For a sense of the use of term
technology, see H.D. Stolovitch and E. Keeps (Eds.), Handbook
of human performance technology (1992 &1999).
As a field, Instructional Design is historically and
traditionally rooted in cognitive and behavioural psychology.
However, because it is not a regulated field, and therefore not
well understood, the term 'instructional design' has been
co-opted by or confused with a variety of other
ideologically-based and / or professional fields. Instructional
Design, for example, is not Graphic Design although graphic
design (from a cognitive perspective) could play an important
role in Instructional Design. Preparing instructional text
by E. Misanchuk, and publications by James Hartley are useful to
informing the distinction between Instructional Design and
Much of the foundation of the field of instructional design
was laid in
World War II, when the U.S. military faced the need to
rapidly train large numbers of people to perform complex
technical tasks, from field-stripping a carbine to navigating
across the ocean to building a bomber.
Drawing on the research and theories of
B.F. Skinner on operant learning, training programs focused
on observable behaviors. Tasks were broken down into subtasks,
and each subtask treated as a separate learning goal. Training
was designed to reward correct performance and remediate
incorrect performance. Mastery was assumed to be possible for
every learner, given enough repetition and feedback.
After the war, the success of the wartime training model was
replicated in business and industrial training, and to a lesser
extent in the primary and secondary classroom. In 1955
Benjamin Bloom published an influential
taxonomy of what he termed the three domains of learning:
Cognitive (what we know or think), Psychomotor (what we do,
physically) and Affective (what we feel, or what attitudes we
have). These taxonomies still influence the design of
Learning theories were influenced by the growth of digital
computers in the 1960s and 1970s. Many models adopted an
Cognitive load theory and the design
Cognitive load theory developed out of several empirical
studies of learners as they interacted with instructional
materials (Sweller, 1988). It is emblematic of the historical
roots of cognitive psychology in Instructional Design. Sweller
and his associates began to measure the effects of working
memory load and found that the format of instructional materials
has a direct effect on the performance of the learners using
those materials (Chandler and Sweller, 1991; Sweller and Cooper,
1985, Cooper and Sweller, 1987).
While the media debates of the 1990s focused on the
influences of media on learning, cognitive load effects were
being documented in several journals. These effects it seems
were based on the design of instructional materials, as opposed
to the media being used. Finally Mayer (1997) asked the
Instructional Design community to reassess this media debate, to
refocus their attention on what was most important – learning.
By the late 1990s,
John Sweller and his associates had discovered several
learning effects related to cognitive load and the design of
instructional materials (e.g. the Split attention effect,
redundancy effect, and the worked example effect). Later, other
researchers like Richard Mayer began to attribute other learning
effects to cognitive load (Mayer, 1997). Mayer and his
associates soon developed a Cognitive Theory of Multimedia
Learning (Mayer, 2001, Mayer, Bove, Bryman, Mars, and Tapangco,
1996; Mayer, Steinhoff, Bower, and Mars, 1995).
In the past decade, Cognitive load theory has begun to be
internationally accepted (Paas, Renkl, & Sweller, 2004) and
begun to revolutionize how Instructional designers view
instruction. Recently, Human performance experts have even taken
notice of cognitive load and begun to promote this theory base
as the Science of Instruction, with Instructional designers as
the practitioners of this field (Clark and Mayer, 2002). Finally
Clark, Nguyen and Sweller (2006) publisher an important text
describing how Instructional Designers can promote efficient
learning using evidence based guidelines of Cognitive load
Influential researchers and theorists
B.F. Skinner - Behaviorism - 1940s
Benjamin Bloom - Taxonomies of the cognitive, affective,
and psychomotor domains - 1955
R.F. Mager - ABCD model for instructional objectives -
Jean Piaget - Cognitive development - 1960s
Seymour Papert - LOGO - 1970s
Robert M. Gagné - Nine Events of Instruction - 1970s
Jerome Bruner -
Dick, W. & Carey, L. "The Systematic Design of
Instruction" - 1978
M. David Merrill and
Charles Reigeluth - Elaboration Theory / Component
Display Theory / PEAnets - 1980s
Robert Heinich, Michael Molenda, James Russell -
Instructional Media and the new technologies of instruction
3rd ed. - Educational Technology - 1989
Roger Schank - Constructivist simulations - 1990s
David Jonassen - Cognitivist problem-solving strategies
Ruth Clark - Theories on instructional design and
technical training - 1990s
Instructional design models
Perhaps the most common model used for creating instructional
materials is the
ADDIE Model. This acronym stands for the 5 phases contained
in the model:
- Analyze - analyze learner characteristics, task
to be learned, etc.
- Design - develop learning objectives, choose an
- Develop - create instructional or
- Implement - deliver or distribute the
- Evaluate - make sure the materials achieved the
Most of the current instructional design models are
variations of the ADDIE model. A sometimes utilized (but
unproven) adaptation to this model is in a practice known as
rapid prototyping. Proponents suggest that it attempts to
save time and money by catching problems while they are still
easy to fix but widespread attempts to make Instructional Design
a field of professional practice devoid of analytical thought
have resulted in
Instructional theories also play an important role in the
design of instructional materials. Theories such as
social learning and
cognitivism help shape and define the outcome of
One attempt at recrafting the name of the well established
field of Instructional Design is the
IMS Global specification "Learning Design". However,
traditionalists will argue that it is possible to design
instruction (with strong predictive outcomes) but it is not
possible to design learning.
The IMS Learning Design specification supports the use of a
wide range of pedagogies in online learning. Rather than
attempting to capture the specifics of many pedagogies, it does
this by providing a generic and flexible language. This language
is designed to enable many different pedagogies to be expressed.
The approach has the advantage over alternatives in that only
one set of learning design and runtime tools then need to be
implemented in order to support the desired wide range of
pedagogies. The language was originally developed at the Open
University of the Netherlands (OUNL), after extensive
examination and comparison of a wide range of pedagogical
approaches and their associated learning activities, and several
iterations of the developing language to obtain a good balance
between generality and pedagogic expressiveness.
IMS Global Learning Design Site for more info.
Since instructional design deals with creating useful
instruction and instructional materials, there are many other
areas that are related to the field of instructional design.
instructional design coordinator
Instructional design storyboarding
International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI)
Association for Educational Communications and Technology
Instructional Design - An informative guide to ID from
IMS Global Learning Design - XML Specifications
EServer TC Library: Instructional Design
KitWiki (class notes of a student taking an ID course)
Creating an Instructor Kit (how-to article)
The instructional technology et distance learning Journal
Instructional Design Resources from The Learned Man!
Training Within Industry - A proven training methodology
developed during WWII makes a comeback
- Chandler, P. & Sweller,
J.. (1991). "Cognitive Load Theory and the Format of
Instruction.". Cognition and Instruction 8
- Cooper, G., & Sweller,
J. (1987). "Effects of schema acquisition and rule
automation on mathematical problem-solving transfer.".
Journal of Educational Psychology. 79 (4):
- Clark, R.
C., Nguyen, F., and Sweller, J. (2006). Efficiency in
Learning: Evidence-Based Guidelines to Manage Cognitive Load.
San Francisco: Pfeiffer.
R.C., Mayer, R.E. (2002). e-Learning and the Science of
Instruction: Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers
of Multimedia Learning. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.
- Mayer, R.E. (1997).
"Multimedia Learning: Are We Asking the Right Questions?.".
Educational Psychologist 32 (41): 1-19.
R.E. (2001). Multimedia Learning. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
- Mayer, R.E., Bove,W.
Bryman, A. Mars,R. & Tapangco, L. (1996). "When Less Is
More: Meaningful Learning From Visual and Verbal Summaries
of Science Textbook Lessons.". Journal of Educational
Psychology. 88 (1): 64-73.
- Mayer, R.E., Steinhoff,
K., Bower, G. and Mars, R. (1995). "A generative theory of
textbook design: Using annotated illustrations to foster
meaningful learning of science text.". Educational
Technology Research and Development. 43 (1):
- Paas, F., Renkl, A. &
Sweller, J. (2004). "Cognitive Load Theory: Instructional
Implications of the Interaction between Information
Structures and Cognitive Architecture". Instructional
Science 32: 1–8.
- Sweller, J. (1988).
"Cognitive load during problem solving: Effects on
learning". Cognitive Science 12 (1): 257-285.
- Sweller, J., & Cooper,
G. A. (1985). "The use of worked examples as a substitute
for problem solving in learning algebra". Cognition and
Instruction 2 (1): 59-89.
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