Curriculum Architecture – Is Just "Like" Real Architecture

Architecture in real life is concerned with things large and small regarding the buildings/houses/etc. that they architect. Screws and nails and bolts. Flying buttresses. Passive heating and cooling. Position in the landscape.

The designs we laypeople see are but one set of the “drawings” systems and backbone of architecture. As with most experiences we have, they are at the surface level. There are many models, and mental models at work in that profession and industry that outsiders do not see – even the customers.

Architecture in Enterprise (not Educational or Personal) Learning – or T&D – is also concerned with the large and small.

The goal is always Performance Competence – and to get there as quickly and as inexpensively as can be. But, typically, only for the targeted few – the PUSH Target Audiences – and not the PULL Target Audiences.

We would build/buy content for PUSH and share it with PULL – as appropriate. But not target investment dollars at the PULL Target Audiences, because they are after all, not PUSH Target Audiences. And we’ve got limited resources. And rather than target serving the masses, find a way to serve the targeted few in such a manner, in such an architected manner, that it easier to share as much of that (as appropriate to the needs of the Enterprise) with everyone else. Even to the point of having created plug-and-play sets of content – using plug-and-play design/development templates for every media that the Enterprise uses – to allow local customization of that Targeted PUSH Content – to make it all more authentic.

If you treat your content products as the valuable resources/products that they are – after all, how much Shareholder Equity did you convert to content? – then this is important.

If the content you build/buy is treated as “throw-a-ways” – then NEVER MIND. Skip this.

Just as the doorbell has a schematic, so do the component pieces of instruction – which in my methods includes or is the equal of information. My designs go to the “Instructional Activity” level – where enough direction is given to empowered within that scope DEVELOPERS who can get creative, if valid, with how they accomplish the Learning Objectives – which always parallel the Performance Objectives. laid out clearly in the Performance Model’s data.

The detailing of the DESIGN DOCUMENTATION at first almost always scare the developers at my client’s organizations. But once they live with it – they love it.

It’s so much easier when “how to win” is so clearly laid out.

The customers of this treatment get development Paths that include learning, training, assignments, and performance tests at critical points for the more critical of the Path’s
Performance Competence items. Not everything and everyone carries the same Risk and/or Reward.

The “logic” of the PACT Processes (aka: lean-ISD) should make what we intend to build/buy/buy-modify/etc. will flow like this (OK, as this)…shows The T&D/Learning Path, The Event Map, The Lesson Map – and even The Instructional Activity Spec – all show flow and time and method. So much easier for clients to review and react to. Better reactions at this stage than after development.

Here is what one of my contract developers wrote after his first experience with an MCD – Modular Curriculum Development project – after first being a bit overwhelmed by the stack of “design data”…

The client thought so too about the views the design provided.

Of course the design is only as good as the designer and design team – and the analysis data and insights that went into the design outputs.

Where appropriate – we begin with CAD – Curriculum Architecture Design.

CAD efforts don’t produce any new content. It establishes the needs, determines what exists, what needs modification, what the gaps are, prioritizes those gaps for the next level of effort.

CAD is the architecting at the macro level – your house blueprints. Not the schematics for the doorbell, the lighting fixtures, or the plumbing fixtures. Because of industry standards – there is a whole lot of sharing/reuse in that business. Why not in ours?

MCD – Modular Curriculum Development/Acquisition – is the build it, buy it, install it – and make it ready for someone to move it (er, learn what was intended building on what came before). It is the PACT equivalent of ADDIE – as some might see in the Phases. The schematic for that doorbell is also part of the architecture set of drawings. You personally will probably never see that design – unless you replace that doorbell some day.

The PACT Processes began in the early 1980s.

The PACT Processes are covered in my book: lean-ISD.

Here is what Miki Lane, senior partner at MVM The Communications Group – and current President of ISPI – wrote back in 1999:

“lean-ISD takes all of the theory, books, courses, and pseudo job aids that are currently on the market about Instructional Systems Design and blows them out of the water. Previous ‘systems’ approach books showed a lot of big boxes and diagrams, which were supposed to help the reader become proficient in the design process. Here is a book that actually includes all of the information that fell through the cracks of other ISD training materials and shows you the way to actually get from one step to another.

Guy adds all of the caveats and tips he has learned in more than 20 years of ISD practice and sprinkles them as job aids and stories throughout the book. However, the most critical part of the book for me was that Guy included the project and people management elements of ISD in the book. Too often, ISD models and materials forget that we are working with real people in getting the work done.

This book helps explain and illustrate best practices in ensuring success in ISD projects.”

Lean-ISD is available as a free 404-page PDF at

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