L&D: Architecture in Instructional Design

I first heard of the concept of “architecture” in conjunction with Instruction, in 1981, from Ray Svenson, when I was at Motorola and he was consulting with my boss, Bill Wiggenhorn.

I took that idea and did a modular Path of Instruction for Manufacturing Supervisors – as I was with a Corporate Training group, Motorola’s Training & Education Center (MTEC) and we were supposed to do things that benefited 3 or more of the 5 business Sectors, as they were called.

Then I got an opportunity to work with Ray as a consultant in his firm in the fall of 1982 after I had done the architecture for a project he and my wife (at the time) did for “Exxon Exploration USA” the summer of 1982. Bill Wiggenhorn had suggested that Ray hire my wife. And then I left for what I thought would be greener pastures. Money-wise. (I had hired in at the lowest pay of the 16 of my peers in 1981 and even though they got permission and gave me a 10% raise it was going to take a long time for me to catch up to those peers – assuming permission would be granted year after year after year….).

I spent two of my summer weekends in 1982 going through the analysis data Ray and my wife had generated, and then laying out an architecture for the 2 Exxon target audience who worked in different geological “contexts” as they explored for oil (hydrocarbons).

As I was reminded later when I helped design the 1st two “modules” of that architecture on my 2nd day as a consultant on November 1, 1982, “Guy, exploring for oil is very different in the sands of West Texas, than it is in the Rockies, or off-shore, or in the tundra of Alaska.”

So the content needed to be modular because as a geologist or a geophysicist your job was different, and the exploration context required different knowledge – and there were many shared things you had to know or have skills in doing, no matter what your job, or where you worked. Like most places and most jobs. Like it was for Motorola’s manufacturing supervisors.

I became the go-to-guy at Ray’s firm for Curriculum Architecture Design (CAD) – even if I didn’t do the analysis. Which drove me to standardize the analysis that too often varied for my tastes and made my design efforts less predictable.

And then I standardized everything else about CAD and then MCD (my version of ADDIE) while at what became SWI (Svenson & Wallace Inc.) where my wife and I both became equal partners with Ray.

My standardization efforts included how to work in a facilitated process with designated Master Performers to accelerate the analysis and design processes – and to build in the quality from the git-go, versus inspect it, and then do rework. I hate rework.

Back to Architecture… in ISD… or ID…

The WBS Of Instructional Content

Including Performance Aids or Learning Content. Of any mode or media. Anything that helped people learn how to do their jobs. As standard – or not – that those jobs were.

Whatever. It’s all about Performance. Was then and is now. And will be after the robots and AI arrive.


I’ve posted in great detail about all this – so if you wish to learn more about that – search this site on the key terms presented below.

The ECA – Enterprise Content Architecture

The inventory of everything.


The modular Path or Map and Planning Guides.


Modular Events (a.k.a: courses, workshops, webinars, etc.).


A modular Event is composed of modular Lessons – or whatever you prefer or need to call them. I standardized on all of these labels between the mid 1980s and mid 1990s – to keep things easier for those trying to learn it.


The lowest level of design in my model is the Activity Spec – or – Instructional Activity Spec.


The items that make up an Instructional Activity Spec – include text, graphics and photos – which I believe should be organized for sourcing ease for ReUse – and maintenance.

Now where is that official photo of the new CEO?


My ISD methods are labeled PACT.


lean-ISD is my 1999 book (begun in 1983) and is available as a free PDF. The 2011 6 Pack books are available as Kindles and/or Paperbacks.


Please use for non-commercial purposes (or buy a license from me). And please, always give credit where credit is due.

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