Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Macro, Micro, and Finishing Principles of Instruction

I have been thinking about the principles I use when designing instruction. I believe that there are three major categories that can and should be used to create effective, efficient, engaging instruction. These are:
  1. Macro Principles - these are the principles that frame the structure and sequencing of the instruction. I typically use Merrill's First Principles of Instruction as my macro principles when designing courses or elearning.
  2. Micro Principles - these are the principles that enhance the effectiveness and delivery of the macro principles. They can include principles of message design or multimedia principles and ultimately make the macro principles more effective. 
  3. Finishing Principles - these are the principles that make the learning experience smoother and more enjoyable. For example, they might include visual design and usability design. These principles make for a more pleasing learning experience.

House Analogy
I might compare these principles to the construction of a house. (This analogy probably doesn't hold up perfectly, but hopefully it illustrates the point). The Macro Principles are the structure of the house - they provide the foundation and the framework and ensure that the house is built in a way that will function effectively. The Micro Principles make the house functional and include those features that make the home inhabitable. The Finishing Principles make the home pleasing to live in.

Macro principles
Micro principles
Finishing Principles
Instructional Design
First Principles of Instruction
Message design
Multimedia principles

Visual design
Usability design
House Analogy
Foundation, framework,
Plumbing, wiring, walls, doors, windows
Finish work, paint, decoration

The interesting thing is that a good instructional designer often has each of these kinds of principles in mind simultaneously throughout the design process. The macro principles might be the first thing that are made explicit, but for an effective product to be realized, the designer sees the whole picture, the complete house, from the beginning.

What do you think? Does this approach match how you design instruction? Or do you use a different strategy?

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