Instructional System Design (ISD) in Educational Context

The term so called instructional system design (ISD) is sometimes interchangebly used with instructional design (ID) to refer to design and development of educational product. However, some researchers define each term to refer to different point in which instructional sytem design (ISD) refers to the design and development of educational product/artefact while instructional design (ID) refers to learning models (see for example Bermúdez & Hirumi (2000)1).

To strenghthen the emphasis between the two concepts, it is explained that instructional design refers to a systematic procedure in which educational and training programs are developed and composed aiming at a substantial improvement of learning (see Reiser & Dempsey, 2007)2. It encompasses the analysis of learning and performance problems, and the design, development, implementation, evaluation and management of instructional and non-instructional processes and resources intended to improve learning and performance in a variety of settings, particularly educational institutions and the workplace (Reiser, 2001, p. 57)3.

Rothwell & Kazanas (1998)4 explain that the field of instructional design is associated with analyzing human performance problems systematically, identifying the root causes of those problems, con sidering various solutions to address the root causes, and implementing the solutions in ways designed to minimize the unintended consequences of corrective action. Furthermore, it is explained that instructional design is (1) an emerging profession, (2) focused on establishing and maintaining efficient and effective human performance, (3) guided by a model of human performance, (4) carried out systematically, (5) based on open systems theory, and (6) oriented to finding and applying the most cost-effective solutions to human performance problems.

Based on the synthesis, it is explicit that both instructional system design and instrutional design are intended to improve/enhance learning process to be more effective, reliable, and efficient way.

Therefore, in this post, the term so called instructional system design is used to refer to the systematical process of design and development of educational product/artefact.

Instructional System Design Models

Here are some instructional system desgin models which are commonly applied in generating educational product/artefact.


The ADDIE model stands for analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation. These stages are cyclical process - meaning that evaluation placed in the last order does not mean it is the last stage of design and development. If the evaluation has met the criteria (both subjective and objective criteria), the design and development can be sent to dissemination.

What is crystal-clear in this instructional system design is that every educational product offered as solution toward contextual educational problem should begin with analysis. In education, analysis covers needs analysis and environment analysis. The result will then inform what to be conducted in design phase.

The following is the brief explanation of each phase as explained by McGriff (2000)5.

The Analyze phase in the ADDIE instructional system design model is the foundation for all other phases of instructional design. During this phase, the researcher must define the problem, identify the source of the problem and determine possible solutions.

In design phase, the researcher start the design processes by outlining how to reach the instructional goals determined during the analysis phase and expand the instructional foundation.

After dealing with design phase, the researcher start development phase by generating the lesson plans and materials. During this phase the researcher develops the instruction, all media that will be used in the instruction, and any supporting documentation which may include hardware or software.

The implementation phase, the researcher deals with the effective and efficient delivery of instruction which promotes the students' understanding of material, support the students' mastery of objectives, and ensure the students' transfer of knowledge from the instructional setting to the job.

In evaluation phase, the researcher measures the effectiveness and efficiency of the instruction. Evaluation should actually occur throughout the entire instructional design process - within phases, between phases, and after implementation.

#2 4D

It simply stands for define, design, develop, and disseminate. In the first cyclical stage - define - the researcher is required to define the problem/issue (or potential problem/issue) in the population being studied. After defining the problem/issue, the researcher can start designing and developing the solution through test and retest until certain criteria are met. Dissemination is


#4 Plomp and McKenney & Reeves

Literature commonly refers to Plomp model of design and development to preliminary study, prototyping, and assessment. In another source, I found McKenney & Reeves added the phase so called systematic reflection. Therefore, I introduced this model as Plomp and McKenney & Reeves model of instructional system design.

In its implementation, it requires researcher to conduct preliminary study to investigate the contextual problem or issue in a certain population. After studying the problem/issue, the researcher is required to prototype educational product/artefact that is aimed at solving the contextual educational problem/issue.

#5 Borg & Gall

#6 Dick & Carey

#7 SAM

This intstructional system design stands for Successive Approximation Model

#8 Kemp


  1. Bermúdez Andrea B. & Hirumi A. (2000). Examining the Effectiveness of Systematically-Designed Web-Based Instruction, Interactive Learning Environments, 8:3, 279-290 ↩︎

  2. Reiser, R. A., & Dempsey, J. (2007). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson ↩︎

  3. Reiser, R. A. (2001). A history of instructional design and technology: Part II: A history of instructional design. Educational Technology, Research and Development, 49(2), 57–67. ↩︎

  4. Rothwell W.J. & Kazanas H.C. (1998). Mastering the Instructional Design Process: A systematic approach. Second edition. Pfeiffer. ↩︎

  5. McGriff, S.J. (2000). Instructional System Design (ISD): Using the ADDIE Model. College of Education, Penn State University, State College, PA. ↩︎

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