Integrating digital images into computer-based instruction: adapting an instructional design model to reflect new media development guidelines and strategies

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Virginia Tech


By and large, contemporary design models do little more than acknowledge the art and science of media development, and instead, place inordinate emphasis on media selection. While many texts on instructional design will discuss, in general terms, the circumstances under which media needs to be developed, their primary focus is on the selection and customization (e.g., repurposing videodiscs} of extant materials that support previously adopted goals, objectives, and instructional strategies. Although contemporary instructional design models do acknowledge computer-assisted instruction in general terms as part of the media selection and development processes, they fail to address specifically the development issues confronted when digital video is selected as an integral component of computer-based applications. Practitioners wishing to develop their own instructional materials (particularly those which incorporate digital video) are provided few specific details for creating those products in the context of a systems approach to instructional development. This study examined the essential design tasks involved in incorporating digital video into computer-based applications.

The strategy adopted for this study consisted of the following: 1) The author produced a computer-based application for The Museum of Natural History at Virginia Tech that integrated both digital motion-video sequences and still-image graphics; 2) Each of the development “steps” made by the author was preserved through a set of design notes as well as videotaped records of designer and participant comments; 3) The design notes and videotaped records were subjected to qualitative analyses borrowed from standard ethnographic research procedures; 4) Subsequent considerations for integrating digital video into computer-based applications were abstracted from the analyses and presented as practical guidelines for practitioner-developers pursuing media development.

A “traditional” model of instructional design was also modified to reflect state-of-the-art media development strategies. The model illustrates the general procedure of media development and places it in the context of a larger, systems approach to instructional design. The development steps include defining the product, conducting research, brainstorming ideas, generating design solutions, developing the prototype, testing the prototype, and developing the end-product. The model also illustrated (by way of example) the creation of the computer-based application developed for The Virginia Museum of Natural History at Virginia Tech.