Top Down Versus Bottom Up – For Instructional Content Design
Top Down Instructional Design is so much better than Bottom Up design when it comes to managing Redundancy.
The former is proactive, the latter, reactive. The former enabled blending by design, the latter is blended by chance. The former enables content redundancy by design for reinforcement needs, refresher needs, and helps find it when the need is remedial.
Redundant content is costly in first costs and in life cycle costs – and should only be done for reinforcement for learning and skills applications and development purposes; for refreshers for legal/regulatory compliance requirements – whether the Learner needed it or not; and for remedial situations because Guy didn’t seem to learn this earlier and now he needs to know this.
Supporting “in the moment of need” and/or prior to that “moment of need” and doing it logically – and because that is what the target audience will actually use and appreciate – are things best decided by a Design Team of Master Performers – not Learning Professionals.
When you are looking to impact/ improve key “Performance Competence” areas – in key, critical jobs within the enterprise – and you wish your Learning System to accomplish that – they can do that better by conducting Performance Analysis and then Curriculum Architecture Design – and produce a Path and Planning Guide – in a suggested sequence of learning.
Not millions of ways to slough through some listings of curricula offerings to try to determine what to take first, second, third, fourth….
But a visual, suggested sequence of learning, with just enough information to enable a sniff test before a taste test.
A sequence suggested by a Design Team made up of Master Performers from that “world of work” that the Path and Planning Guide address. A set of products from a defined Process employing many Practices, honed over the decades and projects conducted and Practitioners taught.
Key to any Design Process is the Analysis Data that feeds it. In my methods the Design Process dictated what Analysis outputs I would need (and to what level of depth is it needed at right now in the process) in Design, so I was able to narrow my Analysis methods and output-sets to 4:
- Target Audience data
- Performance data
- Enabling Knowledge/Skills data
- Existing T&D Assessment data
Being organized for reuse, as well as Performance, I need to share a common tool box/filing system for my design outputs, the actual content from development (build) and acquisition (buy) . I’ve been using this “5-Tier Inventory” scheme/ framework/ structure as figurative and literal organizing method for my design objects and their home rooms.
Robustness – in design – requires the Product to stand up to normal use and abuse. To roll with the punches. Too adapt quicker, cheaper and better as needed. To impact Performance Competence and do it at reduced costs – life cycle costs. To allow redundancy by design and eliminate/minimize redundancy by chance.
4 New Books Address This
I have recently published three of four new books addressing this from different perspectives.
For the Curriculum Manager, L&D Director and the CLO…
For the Instructional Analysts and the Performance Improvement Analyst…
For the Project Manager and the Designer of performance-based Curriculum Architecture Design efforts…
Coming out soon – for the Project Manager and the Designer of performance-based Modular Curriculum Development (the ADDIE-like) efforts to build/buy instructional/ informational content…
These new books are excerpts and updates from sections of this 1999 book: lean-ISD
lean-ISD cover by the late Geary A. Rummler, a friend and mentor who wrote this in his 1999 review of this book:
“If you want to ground your fantasy of a ‘corporate university’ with the reality of a sound ‘engineering’ approach to instructional systems that will provide results, you should learn about the PACT Processes. If you are the leader of, or a serious participant in, the design and implementation of a large-scale corporate curriculum, then this book is for you. This system could be the difference between achieving bottom-line results with your training or being just another ‘little red school house.’ ”
Miki Lane also wrote a review of lean-ISD 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.”
I hope the 4 updated books live up to those early reviews!
Blending From the Top
Placing content on a Learning Path, or Training & Development Roadmap for the first time – and then again for reinforcement purposes to build skills through additional practice (with reinforcing and corrective feedback) needs to be done carefully – and driven by the Performance Competency goals of the Customer and other key Stakeholders.
The Customers and Stakeholders live with the consequences of the design and what is put in place (or not put in place). Structure your processes for more collaboration and engagement with your Customers and Stakeholders.
Design seems to be a bit of a lost art/science in too many Rapid Development environments. Too often they are sans Analysis and Design. And you know where that leaves ADDIE!
# # #