Instructional Systems Design

April 14, 2010

I’ve recently started getting interested in Instructional Systems Design, often referred to as ISD, or Instructional Design. Well, I’ve been interested in, indeed doing ISD, for some time now. What I’ve been finding out about recently is ISD: the domain, with its own books, courses, gurus, etc. Here’s a definition from InstructionalDesign.org.

The process by which instruction is improved through the analysis of learning needs and systematic development of learning materials. Instructional designers often use technology and multimedia as tools to enhance instruction.

From my software industry background, this looks like systems analysis applied to learning. And indeed, the introductory text I’m reading makes the systems analysis connection on the first page of chapter 1 (ISD From the Ground Up (2nd Ed): A No-Nonsense Approach to Instructional Design, by local-to-me prof Chuck Hodell).

The ADDIE framework is widely used in ISD. ADDIE refers to the phases: analyze; design; develop; implement; evaluate. Again, this looks like a framework from software. ADDIE also looks like a framework from the Strategic Management courses I’ve taught in business school (e.g., analyze, formulate strategy, implement, measure).

Most of all, ADDIE looks like what I did when creating courses, particularly those I had to opportunity to create from scratch (favorite example: Blogging and Business focused elective for MBA students). It’s interesting to see the process described formally, with checklists, definitions, etc.

ISDers seem to be very active in social media. I won’t make a list of resources, at least not in this post. I will, however, thank and link to Christy Tucker. Her blog features weekly update/bookmark posts, as well a very solid backlog of more introductory posts. Christy is good enough to provide thoughtful responses to comments on these fundamental posts (e.g., What Does an Instructional Designer Do?).

Some sources (e.g., Wikipedia) note that instructional design is historically and traditionally rooted in cognitive and behavioral psychology. However, most of what I’ve seen on ISD so far looks more like systems analysis than applied psychology.

I’ve started a new category at this blog for Instructional (Systems) Design and related stuff, since I expect to be writing more about it, and it doesn’t fit neatly into any existing category. My reasons for writing about ISD include: sharing what I’m learning; deepening my own learning; and getting comments from you, dear reader.

Edit: I renamed the category to Learning. The above link reflects that.

3 Responses to “Instructional Systems Design”


  1. Thanks for the link. Glad you’re finding my blog useful. Good luck in your continued research.

  2. Andrew Says:

    Thanks, Christy!


  3. [...] Design? Some of my initial thoughts on ID (or ISD, with the S standing for System) are in an earlier post. A thought not captured in that post is that I’ll be doing some reading on [...]


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