Organizing Content

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Organizing Content

Organizing Content

One of the most important jobs of the instructional designer is to make sure that content is organized appropriately, so learners get the most out of the instruction. This is especially important when there is a large volume of content.

The Levels of Organization

George Posner, a curriculum expert, divided the instructional levels of organization into macro and micro levels, as well as vertical and horizontal dimensions.

Macro and Micro Levels

The macro and micro levels involve the following:

  • Macro: The overall learning, such as the overall course or the program of study. For example, in our hypothetical course on business writing skills, the course itself in its entirety is the macro level of instruction. If the course was going to be part of a larger training program, such as a communication skills program, this could also be considered the macro level.
  • Micro: The micro level of instruction would be on a more granular level. Lessons, activities, and tasks can be considered micro-level instruction. In the business writing course, we may have a lesson on the parts of speech, broken down into topics on verbs, nouns, adverbs, and adjectives. The lesson ends with a quiz on identifying the various parts of speech in business texts. All of these elements could be considered the micro level of instruction.

Vertical and Horizontal Dimensions

Most learning utilizes both vertical and horizontal dimensions. The vertical and horizontal dimensions involve the following:

  • Vertical: The vertical dimension of instruction would be as if we are looking at the training in a linear fashion. In our business writing course, learners will take each lesson sequentially, with a quiz after each lesson and a final assessment to test what was learned. Knowledge will build on itself until the course is completed and ideally the final objectives and goal are achieved.
  • Horizontal: The horizontal dimension refers to linking across topics that are the same level of complexity. In the business writing course example, learners may take a lesson on the parts of speech. The complexity level of these concepts are equal.

Questions to Ask

When organizing content, the ID should keep in mind both scope and sequence.

  • Scope: Will the instruction be delivered over time, in person, such as an instructor-led class? Or will it be delivered as an hour-long online course? How much information needs to be delivered?
  • Sequence: Will learners need to complete certain milestones before learning new milestones? In what order will the information be delivered?