I layer – Define and analyze the real-life problem to choose the appropriate task sequence
1. Define the real-life problem's border and size
I wrote this article based on my experience. The authors did not write about the problem's size and borders.

The original sources are here: https://www.4cid.org/
Briefly go through the basics of the first component and the whole future program — real problem situation. It could help you sketch the backbone of your future program, that is, the series of simulations representing the real-life problem. Also, it will become the basis for future steps and the guideline for the other components. This step will not require deep research as it is your first sketch. Your knowledge about the world could be enough, however, consulting with the practitioner is always welcome.
Think about the real-life problem situation that will become the basis of your educational program. Which real-life situation do you want your students to be able to solve?

For example, you want your students, the future drivers, to be able to manage the situations of driving a car when they need safely drive a car for a planned route in a different environment (big cities and in small towns) at different times of the day, in different weather, and on different roads.

You want your students, the future learners, to be able to manage the learning situations where they create their learning pass to achieve learning outcomes in different educational programs.
Think about the borders of your real-life problem.

Remember that your goal is to create a series of simulations representing a whole real-life problem. However, sometimes it takes effort to figure out where the whole problem starts and where it finishes. Whether the problem is a whole or it is only part of another problem? For example, you are creating a program for school teachers. You want them to be able to solve the further problem: analyzing the feedback received from colleagues. To figure out whether you correctly figured out the whole problem, ask yourself:

  • Whether this situation could be independent in real life?
  • Whether Is there no something before and after it?
For example, I cannot imagine a real-life situation where the teacher receives feedback from nowhere and then does nothing. It looks like, at first, the teacher needs to receive feedback. In turn, it means that someone should organise it. When the feedback is planned (for example, goals, criteria, and methods are chosen, and the colleges are informed), then it should be organised (the teacher shares his / her lesson plan or conducts an open lesson). Only then could the feedback be analysed, and, finally, the action plan of what to do next is developed and implemented. Overall, the border of the problem could be bigger: improving own actions/way of thinking based on analyzed feedback organized and collected with colleagues.

Deciding the start and finish of a real-life problem could be challenging. Different practitioners could have their views on the problem broader. Remember, you do not need to make an ideal decision the first time. Your program and students will suggest whether the defined borders are enough.
It is necessary to choose a visual aid that is appropriate for the topic and audience.
Think about the size of your real-life problem.

Remember that your goal is to create a series of simulations representing a whole real-life problem. The process is much easier when the whole real-life problem is small. I mean that the problem could demand from a person a little time and effort to solve the whole problem from the start till the end. For example, driving a car could take 10 minutes; preparing the presentation and pitching it could take several hours. It means you can give students a simulation of this real-life problem in the first lesson! Yes, it will be in an elementary condition, but still, the student can make the first whole real 10-minute drive like a real driver (in a very safe and easy condition); or one can prepare and pitch the whole real presentation on the first lesson again in an elementary condition.

And what if you want to prepare an architecture? The month could pass from the start of the architecture problem till s/he finishes it! If we ask students to design and develop the whole building by simulating the real steps through which architecture is going (even in the most manageable condition), it will take too much time for the first lesson. This first lesson could last for half a year or even more! Imagine what a stressful timetable is for the student: "the first lesson starts on 1st September 2023 at 10 a.m. and finishes at 12:00 o'clock in the afternoon of the 1st September 2024…." Of course, there is no chance for repetition of such simulation, so the student could go through it several times per program. In such a case, you will have to do more steps and also think about splitting the problem.

That is why I suggest thinking about the size of the real-life problem for which you aim to prepare students: Can you show students a worked-out example where one is solving the whole real problem in an elementary condition for them, so it will not take them too much time and effort for students to watch it? For example, if I am teaching the school teacher how to perform a literature search for their needs, I can show them a 30-minute video of how the expert performs a real search from start to end. It means that students could also solve it at a similar time. The key idea is that students could work with the whole skill hierarchy from the beginning.

If such a case demands a lot of students' time and effort, your problem is too big. You will need to consider splitting your whole real problem into parts. Now you can do it intuitively as a first sketch. In further layers, I will tell how you can split the whole problem into parts. You will have to be very careful not to go into the separation of the problem into tiny pieces. In this case, it will look like designing the educational program from the learning outcomes. And as a result, the essence of the complex problem-based approach may be lost. In such a way, you could fail to immerse students in the most possible holistic or whole situation. Instead, you will create a hierarchy of activities focusing on each skill separately. So, even while splitting the problem into parts, strive to create parts as a whole as possible.
Great, you've sketched the heart of your future program — the real-life problem situation. Further, you will describe the problem and the conditions in which it could occur. The real-life problem is needed for choosing the best simulations of the real-life problem and choosing the way of sequencing them.
What we strive for:
You defined the problem situation that really exists in your students' actual life (they are already facing it) or soon (they will face it after the program). You want your students to be able to solve this problem situation after your program. Does the defined problem real from your students' perspective?
Whole situation VS skill
You described the situation (roles, set of actions, and condition), not just the separate action. Does your problem's description look like a description of a situation, or does it look like a description of an abstract skill?
The borders
You fined the whole problem situation, not the part of it. Whether the problem is a whole or it is only part of another problem? Whether this situation could be independent in real life? Is there something before and after it?
The size
You analyzed the size of the problem. If it is big, even if the practitioner needs a lot of time to solve it, then you consider splitting the problem into parts. Strive to create parts as a whole as possible.
The algorithm for 4C/ID model from my experience
Define and analyze the real-life problem to choose the appropriate task sequence.
1. Define the real-life problem's border and size (you are here)
2. Define the problem's complexity conditions
3. Sequence the classes' conditions
II layer – design, develop, and prototype one task class.
III — improve and develop the four components for one task class.
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