This is a development guide for an online open source class I developed for John Wood Community College.
This is Unit One content from an online open source curriculum development project I did while working at John Wood Community College
This is a power point presentation I gave at a teacher development workshop at Western Illinois University.
“A Discussion of Instructional Systems and Instructional Materials”
When discussing aspects of instructional design, there are an abundance of important terms, terminologies, processes and theories. It is important to lend time to the discussion and understanding of these items. Understanding the parts or building blocks of the whole lends to increased understanding of the whole itself, thus creating an environment for production of the best instructional products. One such example is the discussion of instructional systems and instructional materials. This paper will define these two terms and examine the commonalities and differences between them, adding to important discussions in order to expand understanding providing a helpful foundation for instructional designers.
According to Banathy (1968) the term systems can be defined as “deliberately designed synthetic organisms, comprised of interrelated and interacting components which are employed to function in an integrated fashion to attain a predetermined purpose” (p. 2-3). For example, an engine motor in a car or a natural ecosystem in the ocean. An instructional system can be defined as “deliberately designed instructional materials that are intended to function interrelatedly to achieve predetermined learning outcomes” (Harris and Harrison, 1988, p. 6). Additionally, Smith and Ragan (2005) define instruction as “the intentional facilitation of learning toward identified learning goals” (p.4). So it can be deduced that instructional materials are the content and result of application of the instructional design process. In other words, what is physically developed as a result of going through the instructional design process. Notice that “instructional material” is part of the definition of instructional system. This might seem to indicate that the two are the same. However, they are not. Even though many aspects of each term overlap and have commonalities they also have significant differences.
Some of the important commonalities between instructional systems and instructional materials reside in the characteristics of each. Characteristics that the two share include: some type of instructional analysis such as needs assessment, task analysis or performance analysis, goals and purposes are clearly defined as a result of the analysis conducted, instructional objectives are clearly defined, behavior of learner is identified, uniform high levels of achievement are expected, components complement each other so that goals and purposes align, they both have instructional alignment, room for remediation, generally follow a design then development order, use forms of different media and include evaluation and feedback (Harris and Harrison, 1988). By having so many characteristics in common it is clear that instructional systems and instructional materials are interrelated – arguably almost the same. Yet, not all their characteristics always overlap.
Unless instructional materials contain all the characteristics of an instructional system then the materials are not actually an instructional system. Additionally, instructional materials include aspects of instructional systems however, not all instructional materials can be considered instructional systems (Harris and Harrison, 1988). This holds true even if the instructional materials have been designed using a systematic instructional design process model such as the Smith and Ragan model.
Five characteristics of an instructional system that may not necessarily overlap with instructional materials are: instrumentation is included, system-provided feedback is provided/used, system is exportable, summative evaluation is conducted to determine if system is consistent and systematic review is built into the instruction (Harris and Harrison, 1988). For example, a classroom text book is considered instructional material but is not an instructional system because it does not include some of the above characteristics. The book does not provide system feedback or systematic review.
According to Hannum and Briggs (1982) traditional instructional design focused primarily on the instructional content and instructional materials without consideration of instructional systems design. This caused weakness in the quality of instructional materials. Therefore in order for there to be the highest quality of instructional materials instructional designers and the like must consider characteristics of the instructional system and instructional system design process. Careful attention must be paid to the overlap of qualities and characteristics between the two terms in mutual benefit garnered from each other.
In order to create the strongest instructional products possible it is important to understand the characteristics of both instructional systems and instructional materials. It is also important to understand the similarities and differences between the two terms so that the proper outcomes of the instructions purpose are fulfilled. If instructional materials are being developed whose purpose it is to be a true instructional system then all characteristics of instructional systems must be met including the feedback mechanisms and consistent review and updating of the materials. If these characteristics are not met then the purpose of the original intended materials is unsuccessful thus, creating an environment for decreased quality of instruction. However, if all characteristics are in alignment then the quality is increased. This does not mean that all instructional materials have to be instructional systems to be successful but rather a basic understanding of each term and their characteristics will give designers the foundation to be able to identify if certain characteristics are being met in agreement with the original intended purpose of the instruction.
Banathy, H. Bela. (1968). Instructional Systems. Palo Alto, CA: Fearon.
Harris, B.R., & Harrison, G.V. (1988). Instructional systems versus instructional
materials. NSPI Utah Journal, Vol. 2.
Hunnum, Wallace H. & Briggs, Leslie J. (1982). How Does Instructional Systems Differ
from Traditional Instruction? Educational Technology, 22, (1), 9-14.
Smith, P.L. & Ragan, T.J. (2005). Instructional Design. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley &
The project above was developed as an instructional system to fulfill an instructional need scenario in which a professor wished to develop instructional systems in which undergraduate IDT students could learn about different methods/processes for developing instruction. The topic of Theme Based Instruction was chosen and the Smith and Ragan Design Process Model was used to develop this instructional module. This project was a collaborative group project in which my partner and I divided the tasks to fulfill each part of the design process model. It was a very rewarding experience not only in teaching me more about online group collaboration, but also to develop a pure "stand alone" instructional system using the Smith and Ragan process model.
Scenario for needed Instruction:
In response to the State of Illinois grant issued funding for the "Fill My Plate" Campaign to the Quincy Illinois Department of Health and Human Services a new instructional website initiative will be created with the purpose of encouraging families to adopt healthier eating habits, educate families about different nutritional options and encourage families to take time to prepare meals together.
The learning audience will be families/family members both male and female (primarily from the city Quincy Illinois) of all ages with access to the internet. The learners will access the site through any computer with properly working internet browsers Internet Explorer, Chrome or Firefox. The link to the site itself will be located on the State of Illinois "Fill My Plate" Campaign website, The Department of Health and Human Services website as well as the Quincy Illinois City website.
Learning Goals and Objectives:
The goals of this site include encouraging families to adopt healthier eating habits, educate families about different nutritional options and encourage families to take time to prepare meals together. The site will support these goals with the following content: Meal Planner, Cooking Tips/Tricks, Ingredient Measurement Chart(s), Nutrition Label 101, Swap!-This for That (tricks for healthy eating and cooking) and Family Friendly Recipes.
Given the content of the website the learner will be able to identify important parts of a nutrition label.
Given the content of the website the learner will choose to adopt healthier eating habits by identifying healthier food choices.
Given the content of the website the learner will be able to identify healthy family friendly recipes they may easily prepare themselves.
1. Deploy Attention; Arouse Interest and Motivation
To grab the learner’s attention and arouse interest and motivation the website will have an eye catching main home page using appropriate graphic elements. It will also include a welcome note to the learner letting them know the purpose of the website
2. Establish Purpose
The purpose will be established on the main home page with a welcome greeting for the learner encouraging them to investigate further into the website.
3. Preview Lesson
Each lesson or content page will have a navigation button associated with it so the learner can choose which page(s) they want to view. Each of those pages will have a heading that helps explain the following content. For example the Family Friendly Recipes section will have a header title followed by sentences briefly explaining the content of the page and any directions the learner might need.
1. Recall Prior Knowledge
To help the learner recall any prior knowledge they may have about each section of instruction being presented a small conversational type introduction will lead off the top of each web page (underneath any main heading). This content will take the form of a rhetorical conversation with questions posed to the learner. This will give the learner something to help stimulate the recall of prior knowledge before they proceed with internalizing new information presented.
2. Process Information
Once the learner has recalled any prior knowledge, the sections of instruction will take on an expository approach presenting the learner with small, organized, “chunked” sections of information. Visuals will play a key role in accompanying textual content helping to diminish information overload.
3. Focus Attention
To help focus the learner’s attention in each section of instruction the learner will be asked to reflect on the examples given in effort to help them successfully attain the learning objectives. Textual information presented will direct the learner’s attention by using boxes, underlining key words, bolding, bulleting and other attention directing devices. Additionally, visual graphics and graphic overlays such as circles, boxes and arrows will be used as needed to highlight important points in the instruction.
4. Employ Learning Strategies
During delivery of instruction the learner will be encouraged to take notes, bookmark, print the page(s) as well as be prompted to make mental images of the content. This will help the learner employ learning strategies they may already have or assist them in using appropriate strategies that will help them accomplish the learning objectives of the instruction. This will also help the learner remember the information presented in this instruction. As stated above, chunking, grouping and organizing each topic will help the learner better comprehend the material but the act of writing their own notes, bookmarking the webpage or printing a physical copy of the content will help them with memory and constructing the mental images of the content.
1. Summarize and Review
2. Transfer Knowledge
3. Re-motivate and Close
At the bottom of each section of content there will be a conversational type closing that will serve to summarize what the learner has read. There will also be directions that lead the learner to other sections of the website to learn even more as well as links to other resources that will help them apply their new knowledge.
Absorb: This type of activity will be the primary activity utilized by the website. It will be presented in the form of a presentation of organized information within the website. The information will be presented in small chunks of tutorial content accompanied by visual aids when appropriate to the design.
Do: This type of activity will be presented through visual aids accompanied with the instructional content as well as small practice examples for the learner to view. These will take the form of guided analysis activities.
Connect: This type of activity will be presented in the form of ponder activities that require the learner to analyze the content being presented and answer rhetorical questions.
Design and Content:
The following list is an example of the content that will be presented on the website:
Ingredient Measurement Chart(s)
Nutrition Label 101
Swap!-This for That (tricks for healthy eating and cooking)
Family Friendly Recipes
The design of this website will consider all principles and elements of design. A unified color scheme will be used utilizing reds, yellows and browns to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. Graphical elements will work to create a positive and inviting impression of healthy food choices, recipes and cooking. All visual images will either be taken by the web/instructional designer therefore rendering them copyright free or be used from freedigitalphotos.net which is a copyright free website. Written content will be gleaned from the web/instructional designer’s personal knowledge as well as other web sources (i.e. blogs, websites), cookbooks, magazines. All resources will be proper credit where appropriate.
For this project I first designed a regular face-to face classroom syllabus and then converted that syllabus and schedule into an online format.
Please view original Face-to Face syllabus and schedule here: Freshman English Syllabus and Class Schedule
Please view new Online syllabus and schedule here: Freshman English Online Syllabus and Class Schedule
Printed Material Product
Revised Printed Material Product
As an instructional designer my focus is the design and development of effective online instruction, interactive learning objects, instructional alignment and the visual aspects of instructional materials. Specifically, how the inclusion of visuals within instruction can help facilitate learning.