Andrew Gibbons’s Architectural Approach to Instructional Design



I recently started Andrew S. Gibbons award-winning book, An Architectural Approach to Instructional Design. In Chapter 3, Design Process, Gibbons purported four stages of design thinking. According to Gibbons, the design thinking of instructional designers develops in stages across the career or experiences of the instructional designer, from design thinking that focuses on the medium used for designing (stage 1) to thinking that focuses on the structure of the subject matter (stage 4). Here are Gibbons’s Four Stages of Designer Thinking

Media-Centric– Early in an instructional designer’s career he or she tends to focus design thinking on the medium for which he or she is designing, e.g. a website, computer-based learning, just-in-time resource book, a webpage

Message-Centric– During the message-centric stage of design thinking, the instructional designer focuses on the story- how to best present ideas, examples, explanations, etc. through the use of visuals, text, and clustering and sequencing content

Strategy-Centric– In the strategy-centric phase, the instructional designer focuses on strategies and structures that will provide learning guidance, opportunities for practice, and facilitate the attainment of learning objectives

Model-Centric– In the model-centric phase of design thinking, the instructional designer combines strategy with knowledge of the content to create a model of the content that is dynamic and responsive to the learner and mode of delivery

I believe an instructional designer goes through all of these stages of design thinking, to a lesser or greater degree, in any instructional design project. I take Gibbons’s point, though, that the focus of novice instructional designers is more heavily on the medium, perhaps because story-telling, strategy-development, and model-development are skills that are honed over time, through experience.

Which of Gibbons’s Stages of Design Thinking resonates most with you?