Work Process: Designing a Game

THE GAME

I designed a board game called Super (Quiz) Bowl. It is a game combining trivia questions with the rules of football, where the game board is a football field with an “end zone” at either end, which must be crossed to score a touchdown. I made a game board out of foam core board, but you could use a sheet of paper, if you marked it at 10 yard-intervals.

This game requires the football field (described above), four dice, two timers (showing seconds—we used the stopwatch function on our phones), Play cards (I made these on Canva and printed them out at home), Question cards (I used brain-teasers and trivia from the internet), and a football game piece (you could use a paperclip here or some other everyday object).

Ideally, 3-9 people may play. This game requires two teams, of 1-4 players each, which alternate between being “Offense” and “Defense,” and an “Official.” If there is an even number of players, one person on each team must alternate acting as the Official.

The object of the game is to advance down the field toward the other team’s end zone (where a roll of dice determines the degree of advancement for each turn or “down”) and to score the most points (by touchdowns or kicks), while answering questions and overcoming the attacks of the opposite team.

The Offense (1) rolls dice to determine the possible yardage (2) draws a “Play card”, which determines the response of the Defense during the play (3) answers a question (a) brain teaser or (b) trivia.

The Defense has chances to compete during the 30 seconds allotted for the Offense to answer the question. The Defense may get a “turn over” for besting the offense during the question time, which allows them to get possession of the ball and begin competing as the Offense. The Offense can score by touchdown or kick.

The Official keeps track of downs, reads questions, judges answers, and is both time and score-keeper.

Game is over when one team reaches 35 points or 20 minutes has expired (there is a half-time break after 10 minutes of play).

THE PROCESS

Here are the iterations of my game:

Initial Concept (Brainstorming):

My main question: what are some activities where people lose track of time, while having fun?

Answer: Football!

Second question: How can I combine traditional football rules with board game play?

Answer: Use quiz-bowl type questions to determine progress of offense

Third question: Where would I find the kind of questions that anyone could answer, but would take some time, some deliberation, to add more drama during the play?

Answer: this is a weakness. I had trouble finding questions that I could use for my Beta testing. I didn’t have time to write an entire question bank. I found some websites that offered various trivia and quiz bowl type questions, but none were completely satisfactory.

Then I sketched out the elements of the game:

Roll 4 dice to determine possible yardages (rolling a pair doubles the face value of the roll, rolling a triple, triples the yardage, rolling a quad allows you to go for a touchdown right away)

Draw a “Play” card to determine the play (really, this is the response of defense during play)

Run (Defense gets to distract offense during answer time)

Pass (toss-up question, ring a bell to “win” the chance to answer)

Punt (Defense gets to answer first)

Kick (Defense gets no chance, Offense only answers)

Answer questions – timed for 10 seconds

I wrote the directions in a word document and drew up a game board and cards

The Amys’ Review

I shared the game with my friend Amy and a friend of hers (also named Amy!). They loved it, but had some confusion about:

The yardage determination with the dice

The “Run” card (this allows the defense to distract the offense during play to prevent them from answering the questions)

If each team works together, or if the individuals answer independently

The problem of the question bank was still an issue

Linda’s Review

I revised and clarified my directions and shared them with my friend Linda. We played a few rounds and she gave me some suggestions:

Rolling the dice – getting to double and triple yardage makes the number too high. Instead:

For a double, add 5 yards.

For a triple, add 10 yards

Explain the purpose of the Play cards sooner in the directions (this part was referred to early in the directions but not explained in detail till the end).

When drawing a “Pass” Play card, instead of ringing a bell to win the chance to answer, place a household object in the middle of the game board. The team that is ready first will pick it up. This was helpful in making the game for easier to replicate at home.

Increase the time allotted to answer each question from 10 seconds to 30 seconds.

The question bank was still a problem, but the game worked well. It was fun (when finding a question wasn’t a problem).

Family

I made the corrections from my time with Linda and sat down to play with my family. There were two kids and two adults.

Changes made with Linda’s help were good. Everyone thought the game was fun and had a lot of potential.

Once again, the biggest trouble was the question bank. Some questions were too easy and went too quickly. Some questions were too hard.

Overall Effectiveness/Usefulness

Effectiveness of the game:

Games are supposed to be fun. This was fun!

Games are unique in the way you tend to lose track of time when you are playing, and this was true for this game.

Drawbacks:

It wasn’t good for the game that the difficulty level of the questions was inconsistent because it affected the sense of fairness. With the right question bank, I think this game would have excellent potential in the commercial or educational markets.

You have probably already figured this out, but this game is complicated. More like a board game you would buy. It takes one time of playing it to figure it out, but then it is really fun. I think that this would be kind of hard to do with homemade objects because of the need for the Play cards (see the picture below).

Value for learning/Usefulness in educational or training setting

This game is not dependent on a particular genre of trivia, so any category of questions could be inserted into the structure of the game, and it would still work (provided the questions were written for the skill and age of the players).

Therefore, this would be an excellent game for review of concepts, for use with small groups, in classrooms for kids ages 10-18. And also, there could be some usefulness in higher education and training for review of concepts or skills, but might be more popular with adults in the board game market.

Ultimately, the greatest challenging was writing appropriate questions. This was the biggest problem with this game, but building a bank of questions is a project unto itself and so I concentrated on the mechanics of the game, which worked very well (once we got the kinks out).

Re: Public Training Seminars about Hurricane Evacuation

A response to Chapter 37, “Diversity and Accessibility,” in Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology

Question

The Gulf Coast city of New Orleans, Louisiana, is often threatened by dangerous hurricanes during the time between June 1 and November 1 each year. As you may recall the city was devastated by hurricane Katrina in August 2005.  Many people lost their lives because of, among other things, a seriously flawed evacuation plan.  In an effort to ensure that this never happens again, city planners and public safety officials have devised an innovative and remarkable evacuation plan in the event of another catastrophic hurricane.  You have been hired to develop and implement a series of public training seminars to educate the public about the evacuation plan.

  • What questions would you ask in a learner analysis to ensure that you collected information regarding culture and physical/cognitive impairments?
  • What strategies would you use to meet the needs of a diverse population: culturally, economically, educationally, and otherwise?
  • What are the challenges in implementing strategies of the multimodal diversity model?

Answer

What questions would you ask in a learner analysis to ensure that you collected information regarding culture and physical/cognitive impairments?

“When designing instructional interventions for a cross-cultural audience, designers and design teams must identify the societal and learner cultural factors” (Tracey & Morrison, 2017, p. 155). The first question to ask in this scenario is, “What do we already know about our learners?” By anecdotal reports and by the numbers, New Orleans is a culturally diverse city. The Metro area encompasses eight Parishes—Orleans, Jefferson, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, St. Charles, St. James, St. John. The Metro area racial demographics are reported as 36% white, 56% black, 6% Hispanic, and 1% Asian (“Who Lives in New Orleans…,” 2017, June 30). In 2016, the U.S. Census estimated for New Orleans: 27% of the people are living in poverty, 85% of the people being a high school graduate or higher, and 10 % of the people under the age of 65 report having a disability (U.S. Census Quick Facts, 2016).

Societal cultural factors that may impact instructional interventions include generational and social heritage or traditions; the ideas values and rules for learning; the problems are solved; the interpretation of patterns, colors, or symbols; and the comprehension of ideas and behaviors. (Tracey & Morrison, 2017, p. 156)

“When considering reaching as many learners as possible, the instructional designer must be aware of the presence of different abilities and cultures, and technologies used by individuals to overcome learning barriers” (Lewis & Sullivan, 2017, 9. 309). The demographic information is relatively easy to obtain. There are some critical questions that would need to be answered in order to compete a more thorough learner analysis. For instance, what percentages of people have access to technology such as telephones, mobile devices, Internet, radio and television, and what are their preferences for media and social media? What sorts of disabilities are included in the 10% of people who are disabled, as reported by the Census Bureau? In addition, it would be helpful to know how many people residing in New Orleans are already familiar with hurricane preparedness issues. What percentages of people have their own vehicles and how many would require public transportation? What are the attitudes about hurricane evacuation? Having lived there for 20 years, I can tell you that New Orleans has its own unique culture where its varied people groups are bound tightly together, reflecting of the history and diversity of the city. To be local is everything. To call New Orleans home is to embrace a common heritage built on diversity. So, what language idiosyncrasies and attitudes are common to native New Orleanians, regardless of ethnicity or race? There are probably many more topics that would be helpful to breach, but these questions make a great start.

What strategies would you use to meet the needs of a diverse population: culturally, economically, educationally, and otherwise?

Because New Orleans is such a unique and diverse city, any instructional intervention must be engineered from a universal design standpoint: “minimizing barriers through implementing designs from the beginning that address the needs of diverse people rather than making accommodations through individual adaption later” (Lewis & Sullivan, 2017, p. 309). Local News is king in New Orleans and local media personalities, on radio and television carry a lot of weight with people from all walks of life. Radio and television spots with familiar local celebrities and with well-loved religious leaders would result in a typically diverse group of people delivering messages, and this would be very effective in promoting new plans. Working with churches in the area, local politicians, and sports figures to spread the word on social media could be very effective as well, since people tend to follow these voices (whether they agree with them or not).

What are the challenges in implementing strategies of the multimodal diversity model?

Some aspects of the multi-modal diversity model could be very helpful in engineering universal design learning, or UDL. “Universal design for learning, uses innovative technologies to address diverse learning needs” and its three basic principles are multiple means of representation, multiple means of expression, and multiple means of engagement (Lewis & Sullivan, 2017, p 313). Representing the instructional methods in multiple formats or modes (per my suggestions above) activates a cultural learning strategy. In this case, reviewing the unique culture and history of the city, varying the cultures represented in the television and radio spots would maximize cultural aspects to learning. Increased engagement could be created, again through a cultural means, by representing real-life experiences from previous hurricanes in the instructional materials. Other strategies are just common sense. For instance, cognitive strategies for the multi-modal diversity model also include creating a “logical flow of information” and the need to “avoid unnecessary clutter” (p. 313).

Unfortunately, for the most part, the multimodal diversity model falls short for a public information campaign. The model seems to be geared more toward classroom situations or traditional education and training; it includes many suggestions like “avoid timed tests,” “offer optional assignments,” “offer success rich practice,” and “avoid online, real time chat” (Lewis & Sullivan, 2017, p 313). This model could be helpful in some ways, but it seems it would be a better to borrow from this resource, carefully


Lewis, J. & Sullivan, S. (2017). Diversity and Accessibility. In Reiser & Dempsey (Eds.), Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology (pp. 309–315). New York, NY: Pearson.

Tracey, M.W. & Morrison, G.R. (2017). Instructional design in business and industry. In Reiser & Dempsey (Eds.), Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology (pp. 152–158). New York, NY: Pearson.

U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts selected: New Orleans city, Louisiana. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/neworleanscitylouisiana/INC110215

Who lives in New Orleans and metro parishes now? The Data Center. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.datacenterresearch.org/data-resources/who-lives-in-new-orleans-now/

Re: Performance Supports

A response to Chapter 15, “Performance Support,” in Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology

Question

Imagine you are an instructional designer in the not-too distant future, where the use of performance support is commonplace. How might these tools be used outside formal course instruction to enhance learning?  How might these tools be integrated into a formal course design to enhance learning?  How might performance support be used before or after the formal leaning?  Provide an example of each.

Answer

Performance support is “a tool or other resource, from print to technology supports, which provides the just right amount of task guidance, support, and productivity benefits to the user—precisely at the moment of need” (Rosenberg, 2017, p. 133). As an instructional designer, performance support creates a bridge from the classroom to the workplace. These tools can be used outside formal course instruction to enhance learning, saving precious employee hours that might be lost in training classes (p. 133). For example, in lieu of some classroom courses, we have inserted the multi-device app, Skillpill, into the overall instructional design plan for management training at Waltech, Walmart’s big box technology offering.[1] Skillpill is a microlearning app that provides customized content via “learning videos, sophisticated learning apps, support templates, gamified techniques, or social learning tools” in order to improve learners’ engagement and increase desired behavior by up to 10-20% (“Skillpill Digital Tour”, n.d). This Inventory Sidekick is an example of an embedded resource—employees don’t have to try to fit training into their scheduled because the device shows them how to do their work (p. 133).

All Waltech, employees must complete a yearly, half-day team training designed to improve communication, make the workplace more enjoyable, set personal and store goals, and help employees understand their own strengths and weaknesses (University of Minnesota Publishing, 2016). The class consists of some lecture and group discussions, augmented by gamified scenarios dealing with interpersonal skills, plus online personality quizzes, where the performance support tools are supplied through our partnership with Skillpill. Group discussions are facilitated by the instructor after participants utilize the gamified scenarios and personality tests. These technological supports are essential to engaging the learners within the classroom setting. Since much of the instructional technology is outsourced through our partnership with Skillpill, these classes are cost-effective, easy to update due to the myriad numbers of course options, and instruction is scalable to the number of participants who rotate weekly through the program (Rosenberg, 2017, p. 135). Student acceptance of this blended model of teaching is very high (p. 137).

At Waltech, employees use an Inventory Side-kick performance support device as they stock the shelves (Rosenberg, 2017, p. 134). As part of our learning design plan, this performance support tool is integrated into their “New-Hire Hello” course, which takes place in the classroom, during the first week of employment. Then, after training, the Inventory Side-kick aids in the management of store inventory, which though complex, is a “clear and repetitive task” (p. 136). This device is helpful because maintaining inventory requires a “standardized and reliable output” and necessitates good record keeping and monitoring of employee work (p. 136).

[1] FYI: I totally made that store up.


Rosenberg, M.J. (2017). Performance Support. In Reiser & Dempsey (Eds.), Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology (pp.52-60). New York, NY: Pearson.

University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing. (2016, March 22). Types of Training. Human Resource Management. Retrieved from http://open.lib.umn.edu/humanresourcemanagement/chapter/8-2-types-of-training-2/. This resource is licensed under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 License.

Re: Simple vs. Complex Learning Outcomes

A response to Chapter 6, “Psychological Foundations of Instructional Design,” in Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology

Question

Select two instructional goals that represent simple versus complex learning outcomes. How would the learning theories discussed in this chapter be employed to develop instruction to teach the goals you have selected?  How would the instruction differ in each case?  Would one or another theory be more applicable to one goal versus the other?  Why?

Answer

When designing instruction for students, it is important to begin with the end in mind. Setting instructional goals points to the path that the learners and teachers should follow. Examining those goals provides a window into the learning processes and theories that instructional designers are utilizing to elicit learning outcomes. In fact, the theories and the learning processes are the path to get learners to that end point. In the following paragraphs, two instructional goals for dental hygiene education, one simple and one complex, will be examined and the underlying principles of instruction and learning will be highlighted.

The Simple Instructional Goal: By the end of the first month of school, first-year dental hygiene students can label intraoral landmarks on a diagram and properly describe the normal anatomy found there.

One of the underlying principles at work in this simple instructional goal is the Behavioral Learning Theory, where knowledge exists outside of the learner and must be pursued (Driscoll, 2017, pp. 53-54). In this case the student must memorize a discrete set of intraoral landmarks and their location in the mouth along with the standard descriptors of healthy, normal anatomy. The memorization is a criterion-reference activity, a matter of learning a defined set of terms and relating that information to a fixed standard (the intraoral cavity), where multiple choice and fill in the blank quizzes test recall and students’ answered are compared to the specified standard (Reiser, 2017, p. 14). Instructors, as the experts assign readings with diagrams, then give lectures with slides, then give quizzes to test learning, and finally allow students’ the opportunity to practice in the pre-clinical setting, providing feedback (formative evaluation) as necessary. Students’ correct answers are reinforced by the stimuli of high scores on quizzes and positive verbal feedback in pre-clinical setting. Students repeat the same identification/labeling exercises, either in written or verbal form, multiple times, until it they are well versed in this basic, yet critical skill for the profession of dental hygiene (Driscoll, 2017, p. 54).

The influence of the Cognitive Information Processing Theory on this instructional goal is readily apparent, as well. Here the information exists outside of the learner and is the stimulus, or input, that triggers internal processing required for learning to occur (Driscoll, 2017, p. 54). The activities first appeal to the learner through sensory memory, and as the input progresses (visually) from diagrams to slides to live patients. Then the information moves to the short-term memory and finally to the long-term memory (p. 54). As an aside, this is where the Schema Theory is also applied in that schemas develop as learners increase in familiarity from repeated visual exposures to the material until what was foreign becomes commonplace. Schemas are also used as learners move from learning vocabulary to classifying tissues (e.g. soft vs. hard tissues, keratinized vs. non-keratinized) and categorizing anatomical structures in terms of their purposes (e.g. the different salivary glands, the assorted tissues that compose the periodontium, and the various types of papillae on the tongue) (p. 55). Returning to Cognitivism, the dental hygiene students receive feedback at multiple intervals during the learning process to allow them to ascertain the correctness of their answers and to modify their performance if necessary (p. 54). Finally, information processing is facilitated for learners due to practice in a variety of settings (p.54).

The Complex Instructional Goal: By the end of the first semester, first-year dental hygiene students will use information gathered in the initial oral exam and medical history to develop a dental hygiene treatment plan for a patient requiring quadrant scaling and root planning.

Once again, the instructional goal is sustained by practices associated with Cognitive theory. This goal draws on all previously learned information where leaners must retrieve encoded knowledge about health and disease and then use critical thinking skills to develop a plan and schedule appropriate treatment (Driscoll, 2017, p. 54). The clinical environment requires the highest level of problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, which are higher order cognitive skills (pp. 57, 62).

In addition, Constructivist influences are woven into this learning process in that these are live patients, people with real health concerns and dental disease; this is “authentic performance in a realistic setting” (Driscoll, 2017, p. 63). Students are practicing the profession of dental hygiene, as novices under the “cognitive apprenticeship” of their professional dental hygienist instructors (pp. 62, 73). In the clinical environment, instructors move from their classroom position of “sage on the stage” to a more collaborative relationship of “guide on the side” (pp. 57, 61). This shift also demonstrates Situated Learning Theory where the dental hygiene student moves to the place of performing the same tasks and skills that the experts in the subject matter do, where learners “participate in the practices of the community” (p. 55). Creation of a treatment plan for patients is authentic to the discipline of dental hygiene and allows learners to “reflect on what and how they are learning,” another aspect of constructivism (pp. 57, 63). Assessment of the instructional goal is indeed complex because patient care, in a clinical setting, is unlikely to reveal “uniform level of accomplishment among learners.” The subject of learners’ study and work is the patient, who cannot be standardized. This means, for a learner, every patient (learning experience) is different due to variances in terms of level of difficulty (pertaining to deposit removal), degree of disease, and complication of management (pain, physical limitations, psychosocial factors). For the same reason, it is impossible to standardize the learning experience in the clinical setting from one student to another (p. 57). Obstacles such as these are considered in the planning of instruction, and the solution to this problem is the multiplicity of learning experiences.


Driscoll, M. P. (2017). Psychological foundations of instructional design. In Reiser & Dempsey (Eds.), Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology (pp.52-60). New York, NY: Pearson.

Reiser, R. A.  (2017). A history of instructional design and technology. In Reiser & Dempsey (Eds.), Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology (pp.8-22). New York, NY: Pearson.

Re: The Seven Characteristics of Instructional Design

A response to Chapter 3, “Characteristics of Foundational Instructional Design Models,” in Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology

Question

According to chapter 3, Instructional Design:

  1. is a student-centered process
  2. is a goal-oriented process
  3. is a creative process
  4. focuses on meaningful experiences
  5. assumes outcomes are measurable. reliable, and valid
  6. is an empirical, iterative, and self-correcting process
  7. typically is a team effort

You have recently been hired by a large plumbing company to design a course to train recent high school graduates how to perform some basic plumbing skills. Describe how you might use each of the seven characteristics of instructional design that were described in chapter 3 to help you design an effective course.

Answer

For the group of recent high school graduates in need of basic plumbing skills, the program of training must be student centered. Students will come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. Baseline knowledge of plumbing and hardware should be assessed to determine how familiar students are with the subject. In order to develop this evaluation, the instructional design team will consult with subject matter experts. Using this preliminary assessment, student groups can be formed so that students who are less knowledgeable may be paired with those who are more knowledgeable. A collaborative environment will encourage learning and personal development in students, with some leading or teaching and others growing their knowledge and developing trust in the team.

Teams of students will have very specific goals and be given measurable standards of performance. Though the teams will work apart from one another, the teams will be encouraged to help one another in a spirit of general cooperation. This sort of setting is meant to create a sense of community, as might be found in a workplace setting or a neighborhood. The skills, in terms of plumbing knowledge and teamwork, are meaningful life skills that students can share with others in the future. Individually, students must be able to perform proficiently to the given standards, repeatedly demonstrating the correct procedures according to the rubric specified in the course syllabus. Smaller, more frequent skill evaluations, both formal and informal, will be given throughout the course.

The design of the course will rely on the expertise of subject matter experts, technicians, and technology developers. Subject matter experts, the professional plumbers, will help determine the order of instruction, creation of learning experiences, and specifications of the learning objectives. Technicians will be instrumental in providing practical resources by constructing a series of sinks and toilets in the classroom to allow students to work simultaneously, in real-world situations, with immediate feedback from instructors and other students. Technology developers will create content-rich modules, using recorded lectures from experts, computer simulations of skills, and live close-up video demonstrations so all the students can watch in real-time as the on-site instructor performs important tasks.

The initial drafts of the course outline and the construction of classroom will be reviewed by subject matter experts at each phase of production. A small cohort, three teams of students, will test the modules of the training, providing feedback and allowing for correction, before the course is finalized and a full class of students is accepted. Each course will end with student and teacher evaluation of the course so that changes can be made to improve shortcomings before beginning a new class.


Branch, R. M. (2017). Characteristics of foundational instructional design models. In Reiser & Dempsey (Eds.), Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology (pp.8-22). New York, NY: Pearson.

Re: ADDIE, SAM, and Pebble-in-the-Pond Models

A response to Chapter 4, “SAM and Pebble-in-the-Pond: Two Alternatives to the ADDIE Model,” in Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology

Question

Compare and contrast the ADDIE, SAM, and Pebble-in-the-Pond models. Discuss strengths and weaknesses of each model. You are encouraged to utilize texts as well as graphs to share your information.

Answer

Unfortunately, some of ADDIE’s strengths are connected to its weaknesses. Because of the sequential order, an error or misjudgment at the beginning is often carried through the process. The documentation for this model is laborious and produces a written plan that is essentially an abstract concept until it the implementation phase, at which point major revisions of the project could be costly, if not impossible. The written plans of the instructional designer are subject to misinterpretation by others and the proposal is a description of what to do, but not necessarily how to do it. In all of this, it is easy to lose sight of the learner in lieu of focusing on the instruction (Branch, 2017, p. 24).

SAM (Successive Approximation Model) is one of the instructional design alternatives to the ADDIE model. It is a process model that relies on successive throwaway prototypes to communicate suggestions visually and provide opportunities for early and frequent formative testing of functionality (with live learners). As opposed to ADDIE’s document-heavy, abstract process, SAM’s use of prototypes throughout the project allows troubleshooting from the very beginning and makes for clearer communication of ideas and feedback between the designer and the stakeholders. SAM also develops preliminary plans for all of the content, from the beginning. Operating in this manner makes the SAM model very time-efficient, and therefore more cost-effective, in comparison to ADDIE (Allen & Merrill, 2017, pp. 33-35).

Above is the more basic SAM, which is a two-phased approach for simpler projects. The three-phased approach, for more complex projects, breaks the second phase into design and development phases. A key strength of the SAM approach is the Savvy Start where the design team meets (including stakeholders) to brainstorm the initial prototypes, constantly analyzing for weaknesses by asking themselves, “Why shouldn’t we do this?” From the outset, the team is committed to flexibility by generating multiple disposable iterations. Obviously SAM is a very creative process that keeps the end in mind from the beginning. The weakness of SAM is the possibility of getting stuck in the cycle of revision and having trouble finalizing the product (Allen & Merrill, 2017, pp. 33-35).

PEBBLE IN THE POND is another design alternative to ADDIE that is a problem-centered approach where the problem, something learners must solve, is the catalyst for instructional design. This model begins with the assumption that some initial evaluation and analysis has occurred and that the solution to the problem is instruction instead of some other option (Allen & Merrill, 2017, p. 35).

In this illustration, each concentric ring represents a step in the process of instructional design, where the problem initiates the process. The “pebble” represents the problem the student must be able to solve. The pebble is thrown into the “instructional pond,” causing a ripple that begins the design process.

  • The first ripple is the development of a prototype that illustrates the problem and how students can solve it (Merrill, 2013).
  • The second ripple is the creation and demonstration of a progressive series of prototypes that illustrate increasingly complex problem solving for students (Merrill, 2013).
  • Ripple number three is comprised of determination and demonstration of the specific skills required to respond to the problems as seen in the progression of prototypes (Merrill, 2002).
  • The fourth ripple is development of a structural framework for the problems in the progression using specific, task-centered instructional strategies and peer collaboration (Allen & Merrill, 2017, p. 35).
  • Ripple five is finalization of the prototype. Necessary components include design of “interface, navigation, and supplemental instructional materials” (Allen & Merrill, 2017, p. 35; Merrill, 2009).
  • The sixth ripple is the evaluation phase where data is collected to evaluate the course (formative evaluation) in order to make revisions to the prototype (Allen & Merrill, 2017, p. 35).

Unlike ADDIE, the Pebble model is very student-centered and learning-focused because it begins with the problem that the student must solve and demonstrates the skills necessary for students to succeed. Use of prototypes throughout the process avoids some other pitfalls of ADDIE such as inefficient use of time due to laborious documentation and miscommunication within the design team due to the abstract nature of a written plan. On the other hand, the Pebble model is limited since it lacks “the important steps of production, implementation, and summative evaluation” that are essential to the overall instructional design process (Allen & Merrill, 2017, p. 35).


Allen, M. W. & Merrill, M. D.  (2017). SAM and Pebble-in-the-Pond: Two alternatives to the ADDIE model. In Reiser & Dempsey (Eds.), Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology (pp.31-41). New York, NY: Pearson.

Branch, R. M. (2017). Characteristics of foundational instructional design models. In Reiser & Dempsey (Eds.), Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology (pp.23-30). New York, NY: Pearson.