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Design Phase

This phase insures the systematic development of the learning process. It is driven by the products of the analysis phase and ends in a model or blueprint of the learning process for future development. The model or blueprint should contain at least five key outputs:

THe Design Model

Backwards Design Planning

Note how this design process builds on the outputs of the Backwards Planning Model that was captured in the Analysis Phase:

Instructional Design Concept Map

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The model below shows an example of linking the analysis outputs with the design outputs:

Analysis & Design outputs

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Mapping the Design

The backwards planning model can also be shown with a Concept or Mind Map that allows you to show several performance requirements (known as “branches”). The example below shows four branches to meet the business need or objective. Note that when you complete one branch, you can add other branches to it. This mapping process allows you to show the program outline in a visual manner.

Flowing Concept Map

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Each branch should identify the:

The concept map shown below is an example for increasing sales:

Example concept map

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This concept map is similar to the one that Cathy Moore has in her excellent slide presentation that she calls Action Mapping.

The basic instructional outline and requirements captured in the Design Phase are then fleshed out in the Development Phase and by using other Instructional Design techniques.

Design Resources

These resources will help you to understand the design process:

There are no better terms available to describe the difference between the approach of the natural and the social sciences than to call the former “objective” and the latter “subjective”... While for the natural scientist the contrast between objective facts and subjective opinions is a simple one, the distinction cannot as readily be applied to the object of the social sciences. The reason for this is that the object, the “facts” of the social sciences are also opinions — not opinions of the student of the social phenomena, of course, but opinions of those whose actions produce the object of the social scientist. - The Counter-Revolution of Science by Friedrich August Von Hayek.

Next Steps

Go to the next section: Develop Objectives

Return to the Table of Contents


U.S. Army Field Artillery School (1984). A System Approach To Training (Course Student textbook). ST - 5K061FD92

U.S. Department of Defense Training Document (1975). Pamphlet 350-30. August, 1975.