Toward an adapted systems design model for instructional development

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


This study was conducted primarily to discern ways of adapting traditional instructional design models to better guide educators whose most typical design problem is one of "repurposing" commercial materials to meet already established instructional needs. The problem of using existing materials to satisfy already established goals and objectives is considered in this study to be a uniquely different situation than was envisioned in those cases where designers use systems approaches to develop complete instructional packages. Yet, many educators will find this ideal version of design work difficult to satisfy and rarely have the opportunity (with appropriate resources) to design instruction "according to the book". This research, therefore, was undertaken to provide a practical example of design work, utilizing an interactive video design problem.

The strategy adopted in this study consisted of the following: 1) The author produced an interactive video lesson which could exemplify the potential of repurposing and reveal the design problems encountered; 2) Each of the design "steps" or moves made by the author was preserved through an extensive set of designer notes as well as an audiotaped record of designer and participant comments. In this study, the author's think-aloud protocols were used as data along participant's comments; 3) These process data, the design notes and the audiotaped records were subjected to qualitative analyses borrowed and adapted from standard ethnographic research procedures; 4) Subsequent considerations for repurposing were abstracted from the qualitative analyses and presented as practical guidelines for designers working in an interactive environment.

Of primary interest is the adapted systems design model developed for this study. This model illustrates five considerations for repurposing which deserve special attention: 1) repurposing actually beginning in the middle of the typical design sequence; 2) the matching process which exists between available materials and the existing goals and objectives which has to be satisfied; 3) the effective utilization of repurposed materials in instructional lessons; 4) the reconstruction of the repurposed materials into an acceptable instructional lesson; 5) the creation and incorporation of additional materials which are needed in the instructional unit. Visual illustrations showing the relationships between these considerations and the typical design scenario are presented in the study. The adapted model presented in this study provides for those instructional designers, who rarely have the time or expertise, a practical set of procedural considerations.