A Reflection on Learning and Instructional Systems Design

Every field has a set of frameworks, models or guidelines to help educate the dedicated learner. Some of these guidelines may be general and broad, while others may be to finely detailed to accommodate design and development of learning materials and environments. Instructional designers should be able to integrate and adapt to any theoretical guidelines. In essence, academic frameworks and guidelines should be used as a starting point to assist as a guide for the teacher or instructional designer. Thomas (2010) provides a detailed and comparative outline of a wide variety of instructional design theories and models (IDTMs).

Interest and admiration of instructional design theories and frameworks lie at the feet of the educator or the instructional designer. This interest and admiration also lie within the developer creator of such theories and frameworks. Looking through the lens from a technological and pedagogical, no single IDTM stood out amongst those summarized by Thomas. However, highlights from a variety of IDTMs did strike a chord. These highlighted models and theories did show promise due to their simplicity and potential adaptability. They included Reigeluth’s Elaboration Theory (1999), The ICARE Model (1998), Mayes’ Pedagogical Framework, Project and Problem-based Learning (PBL), Laurillard’s Conversational Framework (1993). Two IDTMs that may take precedence in the future include Willis’s Constructivist design principles (2000) and Recursive, Reflective Design and Development Model (as cited in Thomas, 2010).

As indicated, these selected instructional design theories and frameworks are chosen for various reasons. The courses I teach vary in complexity and adaptability, and do include highlights from the IDTMs listed above. However, from my experience I have come to realize that I unable to rely upon a single instructional design theory or framework. If you force a theory or framework to fit the environment, then the needs of the learner and the outcomes will suffer.


Thomas, P. Y. (2010). Learning and instructional systems design. In Towards developing a web-based blended learning environment at the University of Botswana. (Doctoral dissertation).

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