Simple IM Example

Instructional Design Model vs. Instructional Model

By Mark T Burke

Over the past 20 years, I’ve consistently asked curriculum providers to share their Instructional Models.  With few exceptions, I get asked to clarify what I’m asking for.  Often an immediate response is “We use ADDIE” or some other in-house instructional design model.  It could be that knowing I have an instructional design background, others assume I am interested in learning HOW they’ve built their instructional content.  As a client representative however, I want my clients to understand the true value of the content being considered for purchase.  I need to hear WHY the content looks and feels the way it does.  I need to know the design was purposeful.  I need to know that a model was followed based on knowing HOW a learner will build knowledge.  I need to know the components of the instructional environment, the methods used to actually get the users engaged in the content and how the user will be guided through a journey to THINK about the content and build knowledge.  In other words, I need to know the Instructional Model.

Let’s look at how Instructional Design Models and Instructional Models differ.

Instructional Design Model:  I’ll use ADDIE as an example since it’s rather ubiquitous.  I won’t go into detail about ADDIE.  If you would like to learn more, here’s a great link on the Articulate Heroes page that covers the model components.  In brief, an Instructional Design Model (IDM) showcases HOW the content was developed.  The IDM model will describe the process followed by the writers, project managers, media developers, artists, instructional designers, subject matter experts, clients and others to assess the need, design the instruction and build the instructional components. Knowing a vendor follows an IDM is nice, but it does little to add value to the end product.  It’s very possible to follow an IDM and end up with a poor instructional product.  For that reason, I don’t ask to discuss the IDM, I ask for a conversation and visual of the Instructional Model (IM).

Instructional Model:  IM’s communicate several important instructional components including:

  • The main instructional delivery method.
  • The activities learners will engage in.
  • The assessment types used.
  • The media types (movies, sound, graphics, etc.) and their purpose.

The IM’s overall purpose is to communicate the structure of the learning so that those of us who are reviewing curriculum can “see” its value.  Here’s a really simple example of an IM.  This one is somewhat incomplete, but it starts to show how an IM should look.

Simple IM Example
Simple IM Example










This example shows that at the heart of the instruction, the learners interact (reach, watch, listen) with a story.  In this case, the instruction is delivered via stories that convey a relationship between the topic being covered and how that topic influenced either a fictional or non-fictional character within the story.  As the story unfolds, the learner is presented with a variety of activities that get the learner to think about the topic from several perspectives, including other experts and their own with the help of other devices such as maps, journals and actual products (other pieces of work including papers, articles, plans, designs, drawings, poems, models, etc.).

In a quality course, the IM will be witnessed throughout.  The example above is an adaptation of a model I used to build a course.  The model is evident through the course.  By building the IM prior to starting the writing and building process, I was able to construct the entire course based on knowing what would best help learners build knowledge.  That was discovered during the analysis phase of the project, something demonstrated in the IDM.  (NOTE…there is a relationship between the two models).  That’s an important aspect of IM creation.  IMs are NOT built after a course is written, they are always built PRIOR. They serve as a guide and later a tool to communicate the value of the instruction.

I hope you see the important distinctions between IDMs and IMs. If you’re a vendor and want to showcase the value of your instruction, showing an IM is a must.  Not all courses will be the same, and that can cause some providers a bit of angst.  However, within curriculum and topic areas, it is important to have a communicable approach.  If that isn’t something you have as a vendor, you can work toward that level of systems thinking and ultimately, marketing and promotion.

Thanks for reading this article.  I would love to hear how you’ve made use of IMs in your work.

Impact Zone Graphic

Instructional Design and Vision, IMPACT Zone!

By Mark T. Burke

When two objects collide, they change.  Everything about them changes.  Their physical shape, their color, their weight, even their atomic structure, the fundamental makeup of the objects can change.  The space between them changes.  The surrounding environment changes.  In many cases, new pathways are created through existing barriers.  The energy given off by the two object’s IMPACT changes to energy of a new type and that energy seeks out new IMPACT zones.

Impact Zone Graphic
Impacts create unknown pathways.

Organizational visioning can be incredibly difficult work.  Determining why an organization exists, its purpose, is just the beginning.  Visioning includes the work to align the WHOLE organization with the vision.  That means that everything from people to processes, to language, incentives, all systems need to be aligned.  The need for that alignment can highlight an organization’s need to learn and grow.  If a Vision can be reach today, it’s not big enough. So how does an organization fill the gap between what they know today and what they need to know to reach their vision?  Well look up.  That big meteor-like object coming at you fast is known as Instructional Design.

Instructional Design has a reputation of being a field where non-educator people help subject matter experts build educational content for delivery via various mediums.  Reputation vs reality…Instructional Design if far from that definition.  I’ve had the fortune of being an ID’er for the past 20 years (time flies).  During that time I’ve witnessed, as well as advocated for a broadening of the perspectives on the value of ID within organizations.  A few years ago, I attended a webinar on how Caribou Coffee approached their vision through the use of the Wisetail Learning Management System.  That webinar kick-started my thoughts on the impact zone between instructional design and organization vision.  When organizations are failing to meet their vision, have NO vision, or are seeking a new vision, LEARNING is the “object” that will create the pathway(s) to that vision.  The IMPACT ZONE between Instructional Design and Vision is the beginning to organizational shifts and vision oriented work.

What should we know about this IMPACT Zone and how to harness it?

  1.  Set the trajectory for the IMPACT.  Instructional Designer and the process of Instructional Design, helps organizations build training AND change mental models.  Training is the easy part.  Training reinforces the “do this now” type of tasks within all organizations.  Building and changing staff mental models…whoa!  Now, that’s not easy.  Changing mental models involves exposing staff to THINKING they may not be familiar with or open to. When vision work is viewed as the instructional challenge it is (ie…an organization sets each on a collision courses), the most fundamental causes for why an organization is not vision-oriented or why they are not moving toward their vision is addressed….the HUMANS!
  2. Be Prepared for the Initial IMPACT. Impact of two weighty objects creates a lot of heat.  When Instructional Design is placed on a course to IMPACT an organization’s Vision, and they ultimately collide, both will be changed immediately.  In day-to-day terms, staff may see immediate shifts that change the way they think, the way they are treated and the way they treat others (customers and peers).  Some will embrace the collision and others will buckle in and push back.  But people can change over time.  Instructional Design solutions have to consider the initial IMPACT as a temporary phenomenon to embrace.  But, that energy soon changes as it starts to dissipate outward.
  3. Get Ahead of the IMPACT Wave.  Shaping the relationship between Instructional Design and Vision is an ongoing process.  There won’t be a point where an organization can say, “we’re done.”  People are creatures of habits that form and stay.  It’s up to us how long.  Vision work requires continual guidance along an IMPACT wave.  The need for continual reshaping of mental models is what drives vision oriented organizations.  As I mentioned earlier, if a Vision is something you can reach today, it’s not big enough.

Please share your thoughts and ideas on this topic.  If you would like to learn more, use the Contact tab above to send me a personal message.  Thanks for reading.