Monday, July 7, 2008

ISD Models..Systematic Approach vs Evolutionary

Instructional Systems Design, the most widely used methodology for developing new training programs. Today most of the e-learning programs are designed based on ISD. It is also known as Instructional Systems Design & Development (ISDD), the Systems Approach to Training (SAT), or just Instructional Design (ID). There are many ISD models that are used widely, like ADDIE, ASSURE, Dick & Carey Model etc. These are based on a systematic approach to online training.

But what do you think is the most effective approach? Systematic approach or the Evolutionary one? Some of the benefits of a system approach are characteristic of all systematic approaches. The ISD model is a management tool that makes courseware production more efficient. Effective training programs are more likely because the ISD model increases the probability that the courseware will match the objectives and not veer off in a different direction. Approach is scientific as it is empirical and can be replicated. The courseware can be improved and strengthened through data collection and analysis.

The figure shows the ADDIE model used widely for the systematic ISD approach..
Even though it has so many advantages they say it’s too systematic. A frequent criticism is that it is too time-consuming to be practical in the real world. There are practical challenges with a purely systemic design approach in the management of resources. In most cases, training programs must be developed under a fixed -- and often limited -- budget and schedule. While it is very easy to allocate people and time to each step in the ISD model, it is harder to plan deliverables when there are no distinct steps in the process.

Introducing Evolutionary & Rapid Prototyping Approach

An evolutionary approach includes both deterministic and incremental systems, in contrast to the systems approach, which is entirely deterministic. This approach is particularly appropriate for situations where there is limited past experience from which to draw guidance. A major benefit is that it enables a designer to test new ideas without making a long term commitment. A major disadvantage is that it lacks a defined set of steps. Also, it is difficult to specify in advance the amount of time and money that will be needed to complete significant events and it is logically impossible to specify the outcome of an evolutionary process.

Rapid Prototyping Design (RPD) uses a more formative model that is based on usability testing of prototypes. Results of usability tests on the prototypes are used to modify and improve the product. This model shares many attributes in common with the ISD model, and stresses the importance of iterative analysis and evaluation.

The conclusion is, if you know exactly what you are doing and exactly what needs to be built, then you are using the ISD (static or waterfall) method (however, this rarely happens in the real training world). When the subject is new, controversial, etc., then more prototypes are going to be built, hence you are more into RPD.