Whether they realize it or not, designers create instructional designs that are layered. Designers in many fields have realized this and taken advantage of it to improve the sophistication of their designs and the speed with which they produce them. This presentation describes a theory of design layers and explains how instructional designers can apply the theory.
Designing with Design Layers
Purpose: The purpose of this presentation is to place in the hands of instructional designers a thought tool by which they can improve the sophistication of their designs, increase their inventive scope, improve the speed of design-making, and communicate more precisely with design team members.
Objectives: The objectives of the presentation, coupled with the accompanying hands-on session, will be to explain the design layer theory and then apply it (1) to reverse-engineering the designs of others and (2) in their own designing.
Practical applications: Designers produce designs that are layered without realizing it. This is possible because design is largely intuitive, despite its published rational approach. By becoming aware of the layering of their designs, designers can begin to develop their own fluency in design languages, which gives them a creative and productive edge.
Support: Designers in many design fields, including programming, computer design, architecture, and fashion have discovered and exploited the notion of design layers in many ways. Many instructional designers have been taught to follow a design procedure with the expectation that doing so will more or less automatically produce good results. However, as experience in other design fields (as well as instructional design) shows, this creates a bureaucratic mindset that eventually bogs down and saps creativity and spontaneity. As a result, other design fields have turned to new approaches to design–among them the deliberate application of design layering. Examples from non-instructional design fields will be shown to support this claim.
Applying Design Layers
Participants will use the concept of design layers to reverse-engineer a variety of instructional designs. Then as a group they will use the design layer theory to generate design specifications for a specific design problem.
Dr. Andy Gibbons is currently a faculty member and chair of Instructional Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University. Prior to that, he was a faculty member at Utah State University in Instructional Technology. For 18 years he led instructional design projects in industry at Courseware Inc. (now Courseware Anderson Consulting) and at Wicat Systems, Inc., including work on large-scale training development, design of simulations, and innovative forms of computer-based instruction. Dr. Gibbons’ current research focuses on the architecture of instructional designs. He has published a design theory of Model-Centered Instruction, proposed a general Layering Theory of instructional designs, and is currently studying the use of design languages in relation to design layers as a means of creating instructional systems that are adaptive, generative, and scalable.