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Instructional Design Models

Instructional Design Models

If you’ve been in education or customer success for any period, then you’ve doubtless heard the phrase “instructional design” in reference to creating good learning experiences. However, instructional design models have emerged from their limited purview and entered various real-world contexts – think marketing, sales, online course platforms, and more.

Why? Because no matter what foundational principles of instruction you use, you need to give learners a robust framework on which to grow.

That way, they can build knowledge bit by bit, constantly applying it to their existing base. This gives them the security and confidence they need in your elearning materials to keep going. Moreover, since instructional design is inherently iterative – you can improve and quietly rerelease it whenever you hit a snag – you can take student feedback into account quickly and easily.

If your organization has committed itself to intelligent content solutions – and it should, if you want to keep up with the Joneses – then it’s time to learn precisely your instructional design options and why you need them.

Instructional Design

Why Do Businesses Need to Choose an Instructional Design Model?

Despite its close association with modern online courses, instructional design began over 80 years ago. According to Instructional Design Central, “Instructional design commenced during World War II when several psychologists and education specialists were asked to create training materials in mass for several thousand soldiers. Tests were also administered during this time to assess learner's abilities.”

These elements – intentional learning paths and assessment – still comprise the foundation of effective training and course design today. That’s because, to give your customers a good content experience, you must ensure it’s well-scaffolded. Otherwise, lessons end up all over the place, students don’t feel adequately shepherded through various new skills, and they start to panic.

When they panic, they churn. And when they churn, you lose those subscription dollars, your bosses get mad, and people start pointing fingers every which-a-where: at customer success, sales, and even marketing.

So … not ideal.

That’s where a highly refined educational technology development process comes in, and instructional design can save the day. It says, essentially, that you should pick an approach to creating material and stick with it. That refers to how you choose learning activities and identify learning outcomes and how you make it at your organization.

There are many ways to do this, which we will discuss below. The one thing all models have in common is that they offer easy methods of prototyping your learning materials so that you can impart new knowledge in a safe, comfortable learning environment. Choosing a learning design direction will help you ensure that each elearning course and all instructional materials align with your goals so that your students can take home the lessons you need them to know to succeed with your materials.

Bottom line: your goal is to lead your students (whether employees, partners, or customers) toward understanding, and you can’t do that with a haphazard approach. You need instructional design.

Convinced? Let’s look at some of the most popular instructional design models today.

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8 Types of Instructional Design Models

Before engaging in the instructional design process, you must determine your suitable model. Once you do, your instructional objectives will become apparent, your instructional systems will fall into place, and you can ensure a higher quality of content overall.

Here are eight of the most popular, best-laid-out options to get you started.

1. Merrill’s First Principles of Instruction

Merrill’s principles, also called the first principles of instruction, were invented by David Merrill in 2002. They center on five basic principles, which state that any learning goal involves:

  1. A real-world problem around which the learning centers, otherwise known as the “task”

  2. Activation of the student’s existing knowledge base

  3. Demonstration of the knowledge the learner must acquire

  4. Application of the new information on the student’s part

  5. Integration of the new knowledge into the already extant knowledge base

This is a helpful model for describing the progression of modules in online and in-person courses alike.

2. Gagne’s 9 Events of Instruction

Robert Gagne came up with the nine events of instruction in response to a perceived need to define precisely what conditions of learning help meet learning objectives successfully. His model’s nine events include:

  1. Gain learners’ attention

  2. Inform them of the instructional goals

  3. Stimulate recall of prior learning

  4. Teach the content

  5. Guide learners in its assimilation

  6. Have them demonstrate the content

  7. Give feedback

  8. Assess learning and performance

  9. Transfer learning to the job at hand

This is also an excellent way to frame what happens as students move through the learning process.

3. Action Mapping

Explicitly used in business, action mapping is an approach to training that helps you identify what learners are doing

However, it can sometimes leave learners in a lurch regarding the foundational principles behind the action. Therefore, you might be better off thinking of action mapping as an addendum model to another one you choose rather than its approach.

4. The Dick and Carey Model

The Dick and Carey model, developed by the eponymous researchers, seeks to outline in visual form what effective learning and instructional strategy looks like.

According to the University of Florida, it “considers components such as the instructor, learners, materials, instructional activities, delivery system, and the learning and performance environment. Unlike traditional models, the Dick and Carey systems approach is portrayed as a curvilinear flow portrayed with one-way arrows.”

Because the arrows tell you precisely what to do next, including the “backward” flow required by iterative design, it makes the process of development very clear. Therefore, many think that “The curvilinear design portrays an easier way instructional design is practiced and developed.”

5. The ADDIE Model

One of the best-known approaches to creating subject matter for any training program, the ADDIE model is an acronym for “Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate.” Its steps are pretty self-explanatory, but in more detail, include:

  1. Analyzing what people already know and what they need to know next

  2. Designing an approach, often using a storyboard

  3. Developing the materials

  4. Releasing them to both students and instructors

  5. Gathering feedback and putting each formative evaluation into action by updating current materials

ADDIE excels at capturing all the components needed to impart new information to learners. However, some people think it can be slow, which is where Agile comes in.

6. The Agile Model

Agile is quite similar to ADDIE in that it uses the same sequencing for learning theory of Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate. However, Agile seeks rapid prototyping by breaking development into short chunks or “sprints.” After completing each sprint, you run it back through the five-step process to edit content and plug holes.

Often the chosen period is two weeks, though depending on your goals, you might adjust it. The point is that stakeholders can achieve goals quickly by applying deadline pressure, removing the need to achieve the ideal. This is the ultimate “done is better than perfect” model.

7. Bloom’s Taxonomy

Bloom’s taxonomy was developed by Benjamin Bloom in 1956. It standardizes the types of learning that occur when students encounter material, progressing through six stages:

  1. Remember

  2. Understand

  3. Apply

  4. Analyze

  5. Evaluate

  6. Create

Here’s the rub, though: each stage becomes harder to achieve. While a student can parrot facts pretty quickly, it’s harder for them to understand them, significantly more challenging to analyze them, and quite a lot harder for them to put those facts to work in a creative process. Therefore, Bloom’s Taxonomy takes the form of a pyramid.

Using this instructional design model, though, you can achieve significant goals. It will help you prioritize the analytical, evaluative, and creative skills that make students genuinely engaged with the material. It will also help you empower them to do great things, which makes employees happier and customers stick around longer.

8. Design Thinking

Many of the above instructional design strategies are goal-oriented. They ask how to teach students the ideas and facts they need to succeed with a skill set, whether it’s a SaaS product or any other system.

Designing thinking, however, is much more human-centered. It’s all about solutions. According to the Interaction Design Foundation, “It’s extremely useful when used to tackle complex problems that are ill-defined or unknown—because it serves to understand the human needs involved, reframe the problem in human-centric ways, create numerous ideas in brainstorming sessions and adopt a hands-on approach to prototyping and testing.”

Its stages help designers to:

  1. Empathize with the people who require the solution

  2. Define their needs

  3. Ideate potential solutions

  4. Prototype learning materials to address those needs

  5. Test them out and iterate as needed

Design thinking is an excellent approach for companies that really seek to “feel” their users about the problem they’re having.

That said, all instructional design approaches bring significant value to the table. The question becomes, which one is right for you?

Instructional Design Models

How To Pick the Right Instructional Design Model for Your Business

Picking a solid direction for online learning has endless benefits. These include:

  • A dedicated approach to the learning process that reduces the amount of time you spend waffling about how to proceed

  • Smart use of multimedia to approach real-world problems

  • Better learning outcomes and, therefore, better retention of your customers and employees

  • An iterative process that makes the design phase and revisions easy for you and learning easy for them

Of course, you’ll only see these benefits if you land on a suitable instructional design model and offer it to your students. If you can develop exceptional materials yourself, our hat is off to you. However, if you need a little assistance,… you’re in the majority.

Raven360 can help with highly customized training programs that meet your leads, prospects, customers, employees, trainers, and admins where they are. We'd love to hear from you today if you’d like to learn more about your options for saving time and creating better content. All you have to do is get in touch.

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