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Instructional Engineering in Networked Environments.

Instructional Engineering in Networked Environments

Gilbert Paquette. 2004. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer. [ISBN 0-7879-6466-2. 254 pages, including index. $50.00 USD.]

Instructional engineering in networked environments takes the concept of designing content for an e-learning environment and shows how to use a flow chart-like methodology to create e-learning systems. Gilbert Paquette defines instructional engineering (IE) as "a method that supports the analysis, the creation, the production, and the delivery planning of a learning system, integrating the concepts, the processes, and the principles of instructional design, software engineering, and knowledge engineering" (p. 56). Bringing engineering design techniques into the instructional design process provides for a solid, robust e-learning system.

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The book includes eight chapters, a glossary, and an index. Chapters 1 and 2 discuss the challenge of e-learning and the use of virtual learning centers. Chapter 3 talks about the instructional engineering foundation. Chapters 4 and 5 talk about MISA and ADISA, software applications that Paquette and his team developed and use when creating e-learning systems. The final three chapters are case studies that show how the IE methodology works in the designing of content for a Web-based university course, a vocational e-learning environment, and a workplace e-learning environment.

As instructional engineers build their e-learning systems, they must consider how to extract the information from the subject matter experts and disseminate that information to the learners. In Instructional engineering in networked environments, Paquette describes learning systems as containing one or more of four models:

* The knowledge model describes the contents and competencies.

* The instructional model defines the course structure.

* The media model establishes the design of the Web site and the instructional material.

* The delivery model describes how the information is communicated to the learners.

Another consideration is whether to use an e-learning platform or a portal-based platform.

Paquette and his team developed Explor@, their own Web-based support system for designing learning systems. This system "supports the construction of a virtual learning center that delivers learning events, and ensures that the users share a set of instructional resources ... maintained by the training institution or the corporation" (p. 40). Instructional engineering in networked environments relies on the concept of flow-charting to aid in building a solid, robust e-learning environment.

Part of the Explor@ system is the use of Modeling with Object Types (MOT) to ensure that the knowledge component is fully represented. MOT is a knowledge representation technique composed of six knowledge types and seven relationship types. The six knowledge types are factual and abstract knowledge, concepts, procedures, principles, and cognitive skills (meta-knowledge). The relationship types include instantiation (I), composition (C), specialization (S), precedence (P), input-product (I/P), and regulation (R). Both kinds of types are represented graphically, with the knowledge types using squares, ovals, and parallelograms, and the relationship types using line-and-arrow links to connect with varying knowledge types.

Methode d'ingenierie de systemes d'apprentissage (MISA) is a new IE method that combines the "result of both research in the field of instructional engineering and practical experience acquired through the development of many e-learning courses" (p. 104). This method supports 35 main tasks and 150 secondary tasks. MISA uses six phases (define the problem, propose a preliminary solution, design the instructional architecture, design and deliver instructional materials, build and validate materials, and plan the learning system delivery) and four axes, which are the four models previously mentioned.

Atelier distribue d'ingenierie de systemes d'apprentissage (ADISA) is a "series of design tools, grouped into an instructional engineering workbench [which is] accessible through a Web browser" (p. 125). ADISA is a component of the MISA application. Its primary use is to integrate the knowledge modeling to fulfill the requirements of e-learning engineering.

The three case studies show the richness of these applications and the instructional engineering methodology. Although at first glance the IE graphical representations look complex, they really do help in laying out a solid design structure for building a comprehensive e-learning environment or learning system.

Instructional engineering in networked environments definitely provides a different way of looking at instructional design. Those experienced in instructional design will find this book useful. The novice instructional designer, though, may find it too complex.

JACKIE DAMRAU has over 20 years of technical writing and instructional design experience. She is a senior member and past president of the STC Lone Star community, and serves on the core leadership teams for two SIGs: Management and Instructional Design and Learning.
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Author:Damrau, Jackie
Publication:Technical Communication
Date:Aug 1, 2005
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