Progress report on ISD Model Development

Posted on Feb 18, 2010

In developing my ISD model, I have come across some meaningful pieces of information to inform the philosophy of it. Below is a top-down summary.

Project Description: Create a model of a system to be used as a basis for designing instruction.

Parameters: Use existing models, parts of models, or create your own. Designate the purpose and context for its use. Explain how it is to be used, such as a practical guide for a specific application or as a philosophical approach, with the understanding that the model should be generalizable.

My model is intended to be used in the instructional context of Distance Learning for higher education, and applied as a philosophical guide for informing the development of learning content. The rationale for its use is that I believe Instructional Designers overlook, or have no reference for ensuring that their instructional content will retain its message integrity as the information in the learning material is deposited within the structures of various online applications. The underlying message proposed here is that information undergoes a semantic change in meaning from the point of its origination (development) to the moment in time when the receiver/learner encounters and consumes the information.

The model is proposed under the philosophical belief that the medium by which a message is conveyed connotates an attitude about the information – not particularly in the pure causal sense, but more in a corollary, or covariance. The usefulness of this model is intended to mitigate the possibility of user disorientation in operating within the online environment, and to ensure that the instructional content retains its objective importance. We hope to accomplish this by examining areas of the online environment and describing the characteristics of it that might affect the presentation of information. For example, certain online interfaces may predispose the learner to offer limited feedback or contribution because the physical space made available for composing feedback is designed to contain small messages, such as the kinds associated with blog comments. In so much as this presents an inconvenience to the learner, it may also suggest that the space offered is connotative of the value or depth of the expected response.

The interface component, in this example, demonstrates a misalignment between the strategy of the learning development and the implementation of the learning task because of the physical conventions of the online venue in which the learning material is placed.

This ISD model will offer a visual structure that represents the flow of ID systems from Assessment up to Development, with an intervention (my model) that mediates the development through the transactional distance of online learning, to the learner. The model will also indicate the points in the analysis of this transaction where adaptation will be needed on either the design/development aspect of the instruction, or on the interface (implementation) side of the equation to respond to the limitations of the online communication medium.

To assist in this effort, I have read a variety of articles related to the influence of Marshall McLuhan, whose concepts of media relate to the supra-system environment as well as to the individual. On a more theoretical basis, I have explored areas of systems theory in Anthony Wilden’s essays in “System and Structure”. Mr. Wilden’s works have helped to define the meaning of systems, sub-systems, ecology, population, real and symbolic value, and most importantly, the qualifications of communication as either analog or digital. These readings, along with continuous exposure to Romiszowski’s models for instructional design, and various systems models haveoffered examples of both form (schematics) and meaning (denotation of relationships).

My next step is to begin sketching out a flow model and charting the points where the instructional designer will need to make decisions or inquire further into the implementation system. To accompany that schematic, I will offer a series of questions that may be used as checklist against the problematic factors I described may affect the resolution, integrity, or reliability of instructional content.

While I consider this project to be a finite endeavor for this particular class, I expect that it will represent a launching point for further study where I may find more formal and intimately researched findings that pertain to the challenge of crossing the transactional distance in Distance Learning. I feel I cannot account for the entirety of all the variables that may influence the value or generalizability of this model, but I hope to at least launch it for the benefit of criticism and refinement.

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