Selecting the Instructional Setting

Selecting Media for Instructional Design

This step of the Analysis Phase in ADDIE or ISD selects the primary instructional setting for the learning platform. A few examples of instructional settings include performance aids, classrooms, mentoring, mlearning, and elearning.

Learning methods, strategies, and activities help the learners gain new skills and are normally selected first. This is because each media (instructional setting) has limitations on what type of content and context it can carry. For example:

Thus, the best media are normally chosen based on their ability to deliver the methods and activities effectively and efficiently (Clark, 2001).

In addition, organizations often place limits on the choice of delivering methods. For example, 9/11 placed severe limitations on travel to classrooms in many U.S. corporations, as they did not want their employees flying to distant classrooms. Budgeting is another factor, such as when economies take a downward spiral, such as it did in 1998, when organizations looked for the cheapest methods to deliver training.

Thus, the instructional setting or major media are often selected at this point so that the design and development of the learning platform can be planned for accordingly.

Guidelines for Selecting the Instructional Setting

One of the misconceptions of ADDIE or ISD is that it was created to only build classroom training environments. Yet, at least since 1984 (U.S. Army Field Artillery School), learning platforms built with ISD have several options.

Guidelines for selecting the correct instructional setting include (note: it is not one or the other as the various settings can be blended or combined together, such as using performance aids, elearning, and classrooms to create a total learning process):

The instructional setting(s) chosen in this step will normally have several minor media within it that can be selected on their ability to carry the smaller chunks of learning activities or methods. For example, showing a video in a classroom setting — think Blended Learning. Another popular blend is using elearning to learn the basics of a task and then using classroom discussions and activities to master the task. These various blends of media are normally selected during the Development Phase in the step, Choose Delivery System. This page is only concerned with the primary medium or delivery solution.

Just as training designed for the classroom follows the ISD method, other options also need to follow the five phases of ISD to ensure they do what they are supposed to do. For example, even a simple Performance Aid requires:

If you have successfully trained similar tasks in the past, then you probably have a pretty good idea of the required delivery system. If not, then there are several other options to consider when selecting the delivery system:

One of the fallacies that some trainers fall into is to build every training program the same way. For example, at one company I worked with, their favorite training model was to create a learning guide and then have the learners take turns reading out loud from the guides in a lockstep training session. While a friend of mine reported that her organization would not consider doing a training program unless they could turn it into a full scale multimedia elearning production. Designers often fall into these training traps—they have one or two successes with a certain medium, so they do not consider other options in the future.

Although most learning objectives, concepts, and methods can be taught using almost any media, most have an ideal or best medium in a given learning situation. To help with the major media selection process, it often helps to run it through a flowchart:

delivery (instructional setting) selection flowchart
Click image to open larger image

The above Training Media Selection Flowchart is a tool to aid you in selecting the best medium for a training program. The flowchart should not be thought of as the final word in media selection, but rather a guide that shows the various options for communicating and transferring your learning objectives to others. It does not attempt to take it through every avenue of approach, as that would lead to a highly convoluted chart; but rather its goal is to lead you through the major media directions and choices in order to give you a few ideas.

When selecting media, you have to consider your learners' needs, resources, experience, and training goals. Also, do not take a complete training program through the chart, but rather each activity or module of your training program. The goal of a good training effort is to build a viable and efficient program, which normally means a blended learning solution. That is, it should provide the best learning environment at the lowest possible cost. Selecting the best medium for each module and incorporating it into your course allows you to build a Best-Of-Class (blended) program.

The guidelines for selecting the instructional setting are simple—you want the learners to master the new or existing technology in a professional, effective, and efficient manner.

Next Steps

Go to the next section: Estimating Training Time and Costs

Return to the Table of Contents

For a comprehensive list of media, go to the Media Dictionary

Analysis Templates (contains several analysis templates)

Pages in the Analysis Phase:


Clark, R. (2001). Learning from Media: Arguments, Analysis, and Evidence. Greenwich, Connecticut: Information Age Publishing.

U.S. Army Field Artillery School (1984). A System Approach to Training. ST - 5K061FD92. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.