Common Elements Of Instructional Systems Design
Strategies must incorporate both practical experiences for learners to gain key competencies in each area and theory—the “why” behind the outcome. With that in mind, consider the following five fundamental principles of effective Instructional Systems Design.
Basic Principles of Instructional System Design
The National Research Council of the National Academies explicitly defines the purpose of all learning in their seminal publication, Improving Adult Literacy Instruction: Supporting Learning and Motivation (2012). According to them, an instructional design must be such that learners generate ‘conceptually rich and ordered representations of expertise that resist forgetting, can be recalled automatically, and can be applied flexibly across tasks and situations.’
Those who construct instructional systems must keep that goal in mind when they design their system. Let’s look at some fundamental concepts of good Instructional System Design (ISD).
- Instructional Design Should Move At A Quicker Pace
Because students need many hours of practice to gain mastery of a skill, an instructional program should present information quickly while motivating students to practice whenever possible. This applies to both eLearning and on-site programs.
Effective Instructional Design requires students to be moved swiftly to a point where they can begin to apply their information. The writers of the book argue that efficiency is the best method to reach that goal.
Add Remedial Material for Difficult Students
Include some extra material in your course design to help struggling students catch up. Step-by-step explanations in simpler language, as well as instruction using many senses, can aid in guiding these slower learners to real comprehension.
Consider the backgrounds of your students when creating materials.
Consider the pupils’ backgrounds while creating items that will challenge them without overwhelming them. This will allow them to learn as quickly as possible.
Include Supplementary Information
Provide extra materials for students whose backgrounds or abilities allow them to learn faster than the rest of the class. This is especially true for university eLearning, where additional material in an area about which they are enthusiastic can drive them to pursue even more coursework in that field—perhaps to contemplate graduate-level work or a career in that field.
The structure should be provided.
Always tie new material to previously learned material as the material becomes more sophisticated. Show how the new content links to the old—and how it foreshadows what’s to come in later classes. Outlines and tables can be used to organize hierarchical structures, and diagrams can be used to depict more complex relationships between various components of the material.
Make Use Of A Concise, Organized Format
The structure in which you design the system is a key factor for efficiency. Use simple English terms with no jargon or convoluted wording. Maintain a simple format such that the material itself is the challenge. Depending on the material, arrange the material in a logical sequence that makes sense. For example, in the design of a history course, the sequencing may be chronological, whereas themes in literature may make more sense. Keep tangential knowledge for later use as enrichment material. Irrelevant information might divert a student’s attention away from the main point of each lesson. Infographics and other visual and auditory aids should be simple to see and comprehend.
Use Small Units to Accelerate Learning
It may seem contradictory, but people learn better in small bits than when asked to assimilate a large amount of information at once. You may have delivered a lot of content, but when you employ smaller chunks, the portion of the material that the pupils truly internalize increases.
- Information should be contextualized in instructional design.
Students learn more quickly when they can connect new information and theories to what they already know. Not only that, but they can apply it in numerous circumstances and jobs in real life.
Use a Variety of Formats
Some pupils learn better from written material, while others learn better through infographics and yet others from videos. Design your educational format to include a variety of forms as time allows you to effectively speak to learners’ learning styles.
Use a Wide Range of Meaning Contexts
Teach how the same topic can take on numerous meanings in different situations without overloading your students all at once. Manners, for example, can demand one form of behavior in one context and another in another. Similarly, vocabulary words like ‘stop’ may have one meaning to a driver but a completely different one to an organist who uses ‘stops’ to vary the tone quality of the music he plays.
Use Several Examples
Because not all of your students’ backgrounds and experiences will be the same, using a variety of examples will aid in conveying information. You can use examples from circumstances that your students may be familiar with if you are aware of their backgrounds. If you’re teaching French and you know a handful of your students are chefs, you can use food culture examples like ‘bon appetit’ to explain the meaning of good (bon) or ‘au jus’ (with juice) to teach the numerous meanings of the preposition ‘au,’ which can mean ‘to the,’ or loosely in English, ‘with.’
Connect Theoretical Concepts to Real-World Experiences
Don’t just have students memorize the steps when you construct a segment of your curriculum in which you offer a set of directions on how to complete a task. Allow children to practice the skill as you teach it to them. Make it a point to convey to them that it’s okay to make mistakes at first.
‘That’s good,’ one figure skating coach told his upset rookie skaters after they repeatedly fell while attempting the tricky Axel leap. If you aren’t falling, you aren’t learning.’ Even if it feels odd at first, using more senses helps pupils internalize things more effectively. When teaching students how to spot fallacies, a philosophy professor should give them various popular advertisements to see if they can use their theoretical knowledge. It’s one thing to memorize truth tables and lists of informal fallacies. Putting them to use in real life cements their memory.
Change up the types of practical applications you provide.
When creating a course part that includes new vocabulary words, have the students read, pronounce, and write the new words. Similarly, while learning a new piece of music, have the students repeat it rote by following the professor’s motions over the instrument (or vocal style), and then have them play the same portion of the piece from the handwritten score the next time.
Build New Knowledge on Existing Knowledge’s Foundations
Use your pupils’ life experiences to help them learn new skills and knowledge. If your pupils are learning to roll thin, see-through sheets of baklava and have previously learned to roll out regular pie dough, build on that expertise to teach the harder skill of rolling out baklava sheets. Similarly, if your students know certain Spanish words as well as French, use the shared Latin origins in both languages to teach new French vocabulary words. Everyday experiences can also be useful resources for helping kids learn new concepts. If they’re studying the emotional and philosophical ramifications of a literary work, have them compare it to similar real-life events.
- Design Your Course to Be Learner-Centered Community-Based
Learning does not occur in a vacuum. According to the writers of the Hungarian Online University’s book Basic Principles and Models of Instruction Technology, the learning community, even in an eLearning or uni eLearning environment, plays an important role in the learning process.
Peer Feedback Is An Essential Part Of Learning
Peer feedback not only helps people being evaluated comprehend the content better, but it also helps the assessors. For instance, a law student learning how to apply a certain statute in a courtroom argument. If their classmates and professor examine the strengths of their argument, they will learn to apply those concepts to their argument. In reality, the professor can specify which elements of the peer comments are valid and which are not and why. The experience will benefit everyone, not just the one being examined.
Most real-life jobs necessitate collaboration.
When your students apply the knowledge they learned from your course on the job, they will need to learn how to work as part of a team—and as part of the greater community within the company or business. If the team is to succeed, they must learn to work together, learn from one another, and teach one another. They will need to learn how to confidently articulate their views and apply their expertise as members of a team. They will also need to be able to distribute tasks among themselves as they apply their knowledge. Learning how to break down the processes in executing a task fast and efficiently is as important as acquiring the ability itself.
Free Up Space for Student-Student Interactions
It may be more challenging to connect students in an eLearning environment, yet it is critical to widen one’s learning. Encourage online chats as well as gatherings for students who live close to one another. Conversations about the information given and its practical applications are frequently beneficial in terms of internalizing facts and concepts. Not only that, but a course that offers such chances can assist students in developing their professional networks, allowing them to find additional career prospects and advance in their particular industries.
- Provide students with opportunities to create original content.
A course that solely challenges students to memorize knowledge to recite in a closely controlled environment, for instance, a multiple-choice test or fill-in-the-blank, does a disservice to its students. Instead, incorporate chances for students to create original content within the class format.
Reaction papers and oral presentations assist students in organizing and comprehending issues.
Ask students to express their reactions to the positions offered in the prescribed reading after a reading assignment, video assignment, or another task. They will internalize the principles taught as they discuss the topic on their terms, even if simply to oppose them. However, do not allow kids to develop unsupported gut reactions. Require them to compose their reaction paper or speech using reasoned arguments paired with the facts they have studied. Such experiences will prepare them for on-the-job circumstances in which they must make a case for performing a task in a specific way to enhance efficiency.
Encourage students to apply their newfound knowledge or skills outside of the classroom.
For example, in a cooking class, have students prepare recipes for their families or housemates. Include a requirement in a political science course that they participate in a campaign or otherwise participate in the political process. Some of these efforts may be difficult at first, as are all beginnings, but producing original work while applying the skills students learn in the classroom will pay tremendous returns in the working world.
Include Critical Thinking Exercises in Course Content
Students should be taught to look for contradictions, explanations, and solutions. One of the most transferable talents for today’s workforce is critical thinking. Problems frequently occur as a result of contradictions at the center of an argument or a hypothesis about how something works. Critical thinking assists pupils in identifying anomalies, determining why something isn’t working, and devising a solution to make it work.
Make courses that teach students how to be lifelong learners.
The cliché “teach a person to fish, and you’ve fed them for a lifetime” has never been more applicable than in instructional design. Use tried-and-true learning tactics in your course. Teach kids to question everything and to never accept the status quo. Pique their interest, and students will never be the same again after the pump is primed. They will develop a hunger for knowledge that will keep them at the top of their field for the rest of their lives. Teach them to appreciate the term “why.”
Encourage students to analyze a problem from various perspectives.
A problem can often be solved by seeing it from a different angle. Shifting perspectives fosters cognitive flexibility, which can be extremely beneficial to students on the job. Arguing a subject from both pro and con perspectives might help students see a different option that avoids the limitations inherent in typical stances or ideas regarding a specific problem. Einstein’s theory of relativity could not be developed until he learned to “think outside the (standard) box.”
- Develop fair, well-thought-out evaluation tools that are used at the appropriate time.
Students who cram for tests are the outcome of the old model of cramming a lot of material into each lesson. As a result, the material and abilities are relegated to short-term memory and are quickly lost once the tests are over. That does not sit well with modern companies, who prefer employees who have digested the skills, ideas, and information they studied in school. Instead, offer and test material to pupils at a speed that allows them to internalize the knowledge for a lifetime.
New stuff and evaluations should be spaced out.
Allow students enough time and chances to comprehend new content before conducting large-scale evaluations. Smaller, less formal evaluations, such as reaction papers, demonstrations, or quizzes spaced out for each topic, are preferable to giving a significant quantity of content and then assessing students in those massive chunks.
Examine Your Tests
The course layout is flexible. If a testing instrument (or any of the components of a particular test) fails, replace it. Examine student exam and quiz results to evaluate if you’re missing something in your subject presentation or if some questions are unfair or unclear. Examine whether breaking up the subject into smaller parts over time can help pupils understand it better. Examine your questions carefully (and invite your students and colleagues to do the same) to determine whether rephrasing them would get better results.
Give Beneficial Feedback
A basic score reveals little about how to correct a cognitive process that leads to an incorrect answer. Teachers should make remarks that assist the student in identifying the moment at which she deviated from the correct path. Recognize the student for unique and rational strategies, but pinpoint the point where they deviated from the path. Partially credit for ‘bad’ answers that show some knowledge of the content can motivate a student. A calculus professor, for example, who has a student who used the correct strategy at every step but made a mistake or an elementary arithmetic error may grant partial credit because that student understands the material better than one who made no arithmetic errors but failed to show his work or took shortcuts.
Provide Quick Response
Instructors are among the busiest individuals on the planet. The combination of piles of papers to grade and records to retain causes some to put off assessing papers or providing feedback. Instead, build courses with shorter, more effective exams to keep track of workload. Students learn more quickly after receiving comments while the work is still fresh in their thoughts. Students can modify their cognitive process before it becomes established in their thoughts, thanks to immediate feedback.
Instructors and committees can provide basic courses that will produce students who can take their place in their chosen field by designing courses that move at an efficient pace, put learning into a practical context, involve the community of learners, encourage students to create original content, as well as provide appropriate, considerate feedback.