I layer – Define and analyze the real-life problem to choose the appropriate task sequence
2. Define the problem's complexity conditions
In this layer, I suggest considering the conditions that can make the problem easy or hard. Condition is the core "bricks" you will need for making future decisions about how many problems' simulations will be in your program and how you will sequence them. The idea is to allow the students to solve the problem in different conditions. It will help them learn how to adjust the system of competencies needed for problem-solving in different conditions until they can independently solve the problem.
Condition is made up of the following attributes:

  • context — different environmental features (easy, medium, and complex);
  • skill hierarchy — the number of skills that are needed for problem-solving (the whole skill hierarchy or the part of it)
In the book, the authors also write about knowledge as an additional factor that can make the condition more complex or easy. For example, it could be easy for a librarian to look for familiar information (for example, weather type) but more challenging to look for unfamiliar information (quantum computer). Notice that the skill hierarchy is the same; however, in the more challenging context, one needs additional knowledge. I do not single out knowledge in a separate category because, in my opinion, they already stand behind the context or skill hierarchy. What will one use the knowledge for if it appears without context or skill?
Analyze the factors that create the most complex context and describe them. What is your program's goal situation for which you are preparing students? In other words, what is the most complex hierarchy of factors of the problem which you want your students to be able to manage at the end of the program?
For example, you want your students, the future drivers, to be able to manage the situations of driving a car off-road in freezing rain at night without any service around.

Analyze the factors that create the most manageable context and describe them. Depending on your student's initial level, think about the most simple hierarchy of factors they could manage.

You can also quickly analyze the factors that create the medium context for the intermediate. However, do not go very deep. First, you will still need to design the simulations for the most manageable context because this is the program's start. Then you can start implementing the program and gradually improve it from iteration to iteration. That is why I suggest going through the whole layers with the most manageable context and then repeating the process for other contexts.

You will continue developing the matrix in further layers.

skill hierarchy
What high level-skills should one use to solve the problem no matter the context?

It mustn't be the learning objectives; it is a hierarchy of actions that any person will do when solving this problem. You need to figure out these actions from the problem. Be aware of starting to create a list of skills based on which you will afterward make a problem. In such a way, you can end with a problem that does not exist in real life. Again, first, analyse the real-life problem, then the system of skills used for solving it.
Try to create a system, not a list, i.e., show the relations and sequence between the skills. Remember that it is a sketch; you will continue to develop the skill hierarchy in further layers.

Define the subgroups of skills. If your problem is big, then you need this additional step. Probably you have already started to think about how to split it. Here you can improve it by taking into consideration your skill hierarchy. Remember, the skills and the problem are the two sides of the same coin because we use action verbs to describe both. The problem situations: the washer has broken, so I tried to fix it; the angry neighbour came, and I tried to calm him down; the cook cooks to make the visitor happy. So, when one describes the problem, s/he uses the words representing the competency needed to solve it — fix, calm down, cook. Suppose you describe these situations in more detail. In that case, you will see that they demand to use a hierarchy of skills to solve it — from noticing that the washer is broken to analysing how to solve it and finally implementing the chosen strategy of repeating it.

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.
Now, you have gathered the initial information needed for making decisions in further steps. If your real-life problem is small, you can move on and design the whole-task sequence! However, if your problem is big, you will have to consider other ways of sequencing.
The algorithm for 4C/ID model from my experience
I — Define and analyze the real-life problem to choose the appropriate task sequence.
1. Define the real-life problem's border and size
2. Define the problem's complexity conditions
3. Sequence the classes' conditions
II layer — design, develop, and prototype one task class.
4. Create learning tasks for one class
5. Improve the skill hierarchy and design the other three components for one class
6. Design the performance assessment for one class
7. Plan the development and prototyping of one task class

III — improve and develop the four components for one task class.
4. Create learning tasks for one class
5. Improve the skill hierarchy and design the other three components for one class
6. Design the performance assessment for one class
7. Plan the development and prototyping of one task class

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