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Program design models

Program design models

Thanks to the model's authors and my colleagues and students who created this model and experimented with its application. Next will be my retelling of the main components of the model, as well as my opinion on how to work with it.

The original sources are here: https://www.4cid.org/

The original sources are here: https://www.4cid.org/

Four main components of 4C/ID model

As a representative of the complex way of designing programs, this four-component instructional design model suggests creating an educational program from a real-world situation to help students effectively transfer what was learned beyond the educational program. Additionally, the model cares about students' cognitive load, helping them not be overwhelmed. According to the model, the following four components should become the basis of the program so that the learning can happen: (1) learning tasks which are the simulations of the real-world problem, (2) supportive and (3) procedural information, and (4) part-time practice.

The core idea behind the 4C/ID is that person learns when s/he is guided through a series of simulations of the whole real-world problem situation (called learning tasks). For example, to learn how to manage the situation of communicating with patients, the nurse could start with a series of simulated role-plays. Then the nurse could gradually move to more complex situations, for example, communicating with patients about elementary health issues and reaching a situation with the most challenging condition (speaking about complex and unknown diseases).

These series of simulations of real-world problems are the heart of the program. When a student is involved in solving such problem simulations, s/he uses the system of competencies, skills, knowledge, and attitude in a particular condition.

These series of simulations of real-world problems are the heart of the program. When a student is involved in solving such problem simulations, s/he uses the system of competencies, skills, knowledge, and attitude in a particular condition.

Firstly, a student analyses how to solve a specific problem's simulation. That is called learning by induction: from the case to the general rules and principles.

Secondly, when a student goes through several problem's simulations, s/he can compare and analyse them and create a scheme or abstract idea of the problem. That is learning by deduction: from the theory and experience of solving a series of problems to solving a specific problem. These cycles of induction and deduction are the core learning activity that the series of learning tasks-simulations stimulate in learners.

Of course, a designer must adhere to certain principles to help learners move through these simulations of the real-world problem and stimulate learning instead of frustration or cognitive overload. If the series of simulations of the real-world problem is designed well, students will learn how to work with a system of competencies in different conditions. That is, students will be able to learn how to adjust a system of competencies to different conditions and will be able to transfer what was learned further.

Secondly, when a student goes through several problem's simulations, s/he can compare and analyse them and create a scheme or abstract idea of the problem. That is learning by deduction: from the theory and experience of solving a series of problems to solving a specific problem. These cycles of induction and deduction are the core learning activity that the series of learning tasks-simulations stimulate in learners.

Of course, a designer must adhere to certain principles to help learners move through these simulations of the real-world problem and stimulate learning instead of frustration or cognitive overload. If the series of simulations of the real-world problem is designed well, students will learn how to work with a system of competencies in different conditions. That is, students will be able to learn how to adjust a system of competencies to different conditions and will be able to transfer what was learned further.

One of the main obstacles which make student struggle is cognitive overload. It's the amount of information that students' memory and attention can handle before it's get overwhelmed. Cognitive overload hinders learning, so 4C/ID tries to reduce it by providing students with two types of information:

- Supportive — information that helps students to compare different problem situations. This information theory describes the general domain, its principles, rules, and relations (theory). It helps understand the general idea of how to solve that kind of problem in different conditions.
- Procedural — information that helps students solve a particular problem. For example, the cheat list with rules of thumb or other tips that allow a student to focus on problem-solving instead of wasting energy on recalling something.

Part-time practice is a practice that is designed for students to help them train a particular skill to make them automatic.

While component 1, simulations of the real-world problem, focuses on assisting students in training using the set of competencies in a particular condition, the part-time practice focuses on the atomisation of one skill. One could better solve problems if some skills can be used without thinking, that is, automatically. For example, if a back-end developer could type blindly, then s/he would not waste effort on typing and could focus on problem-solving.

Four components help in understanding the basic principles of the model. In practice, the ideal program consists of several series of learning tasks, i.e., several series of simulations of the real-world problem that guide the student from easy to a real-life condition. Each series should be accompanied by appropriate supportive information, and each situation should be accompanied by procedural information (if needed). Also, the part-task should be added for the skills that need atomisation. It turns out that the four components are developed several times for each series of simulations.

Below is my version of the model's visualization, and the original is here: https://www.4cid.org/

Below is my version of the model's visualization, and the original is here: https://www.4cid.org/

The original 10 steps algorithm for 4C/ID

The ideal program designed according to the 4C/ID makes students go through different conditions — from the easiest to the most complex and real. To do so, students should solve several problem simulations (called "learning tasks") within different conditions (called **"**the task class**"**). That could be many problem simulations, especially when a final condition and the level of the problem's complexity to which program planning to prepare students is challenging. In other words, students will need to go through many conditions and, thus, many problem simulations (many task classes). Just imagine how much work it will take to design and develop all these task classes!

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