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Connected Intelligence: Instructional Design

The approach used in the design and implementation of a CI Network Learning Project (CI NLP) is described here. The method has five interrelated and dynamic components...

  1. CI NLP Targets
  2. CI NLP Scenario Building
  3. CI NLP Performance and Assessment
  4. CI NLP Implementation Process
  5. CI NLP Applied Research

This method is designed to increase dialogue and interactivity across all stakeholders in the learning process. The CI NLPInstructional Design Model is the bridge for moving the conceptual and abstract nature of the CITD Learning Framework into practice. It is focused on the processes and tools for building Connected Intelligence in learning. This model supports multi-disciplinary and multi-age learning environments. It is completely adaptable and customizable. Effectively implemented throughout the entire school system, CI NLP Instructional Design will serve to prepare people with the tools and processes required for success in network society.

1. CI Network Learning Project Targets

All CI NLPs are target driven. The selection of targets originate in the constant drive toward Connected Intelligence. On an annual basis, generic targets are set for performance in CITD - they are not project specific. Instead, the generic targets provide a framework for performance and establish practical goals for achievement across the entire CITD Team. The establishment of annual targets for CITD is a collaborative process. For example:

General Project Targets

  • Number of CI Network Learning Projects
  • Number of Associate Teachers in CITD
  • Number of Participating Teachers in CITD (non-Associates)
  • Number of Students in CITD
  • Number of Parents in CITD

Network Learning Targets

  • Number and kind of Information Strategies to be delivered
  • Number and kind of Knowledge Creation tools, strategies and paradigms to be delivered
  • Number and kind of Communications Design technique, design specifications, and innovations to be delivered

Cultural Development Targets

  • Number community members and organizations to be integrated into projects
  • Number of global connections to be integrated into projects
  • Number of intercultural initiatives to be integrated into projects

Digital Entrepreneurship Targets

  • Number of personal success targets to be integrated into projects
  • Number of employability skill development initiatives to be integrated into projects
  • Number of e-commerce / digital asset management initiatives to be integrated into projects

New kinds of targets can be added into this list on needs basis. At the end of each year, the achievement of these targets in combination with the Applied Research Project component (see below) will form an important aspect of the performance review.


Scenarios, as opposed to curricula, are liberating structures - they allow people to cope with complexity. Each scenario offers a perspective on an issue or problem - scenarios elaborate many ways of knowing. Scenarios are not predictions about the future, but are instead a means to suspend our judgment and focus our attention on fresh perceptions and strategic insights. It is here that the rationale and value proposition of a CI Network Learning Project is described.

Without an effective scenario, there is no direction for the project. While there is no single structure that can be applied to the creation of a scenario, the sample format modified from The Art of the Long View: Planning for the Future in an Uncertain World by Peter Schwartz below provides a basic model:

CI NLP Scenario Building

  1. Isolate key content areas for CI Projects
  2. Investigate / Research / Immerse
  3. Create elemental questions that will drive the project
  4. Identify key factors (progressive and inhibiting)
  5. Write possible plots for how the project may evolve
  6. Rehearse and test the plot

Scenarios can allow us to focus out attention on things that are uncomfortable or confusing to us. It is important to be able to attune oneself to uncertainty and multiple points of view. Freedom is the ability to act both with confidence and a full knowledge of uncertainty. Managers often prefer the illusion of certainty instead of embracing the value of risks and realities – this is a major inhibitor to progress in a networked society.


The purpose of stating performance goals and assessment strategies is to bring a coordinated sense of vigilance and rigor to the CI NLP scenario. As mentioned above, a scenario embraces an acceptance of uncertainty in learning. Networks have emergent properties that will only reveal themselves over time. We simply cannot know with any degree of precision what the outcome of a network learning environment will be.

This is a dramatically different orientation to assessment in comparison to traditional educational models. A CI NLP does not standardize knowledge and then seek to test the acquisition of it. In other words, we do not subscribe to standardized testing common to many traditional curricula. If we embrace scenario-planning as a critical foundation for building a CI NLP, then it makes little sense to impose assessment measures that would work against the importance of uncertainty in learning. As a result, a CI NLP does not use standardized testing or other traditional forms of evaluation.

However, none of this is to say that a CI NLP does not embrace the critical importance of providing a supportive environment for participants to develop improved assessment strategies. In fact, a CI NLP is a culture of assessment in which participants are provided with a repertoire of methods and processes for assessing their own performance as well as the performance of others. Constantly sharing these thoughts and insights in a productive manner energizes the dynamics of network learning. Performance and assessment, then, are essential pedagogical elements in any project.

Performance Standards describe in concrete and practical terms what the intended projections for success are across Network Learning, Digital Entrepreneurship, and Cultural Development. This is done quite simply by constantly referring back to the project specific targets set for interactivity (see above). By articulating performance standards in terms of interactivity, rather than knowledge or skill, the potential for learning is increased exponentially in comparison to the standardization of knowledge. Our attention is primarily aimed at the nature and development of strategic systems of interaction with the assumption that knowledge is an emergent property of this interaction.

Assessment Strategies describe the specific processes used to track and update the performance standards set. These processes generally fall into three categories; a) diagnostic assessment; b) formative assessment; and c) summative assessment. We believe that the foundation for helping people to become better at assessment is in the provision of methods and tools that help expand their thinking about the situations and circumstances they find themselves in. From another perspective, we also believe that standardized tests and lock-step processes are both limiting and unnecessary.

  1. Performance Standards Performance standards refer us back to the targets set for interactivity in learning. The CITD Curriculum Framework provides the general categories in which performance standards are stated:
    1. Network Learning
      • Information Strategies
      • Knowledge Creation
      • Communications Design

    2. Cultural Development
      • Local Interaction
      • Global Connections
      • Intercultural Communications

    3. Digital Entrepreneurship
      • Personal Success
      • Business Success
      • Network Success

    These general categories are then brought into close proximity with each CI NLP scenario and specific targets are developed for each project. Since each CI NLP will generate its own unique system of interaction, the targets may be updated and restated as the project evolves.

    Scenarios, targets, and performance standards are completely interconnected. This is important in creating a shared sense of purpose and motivation in learning.

  2. Assessment Strategies
    Once the scenario, project targets and performance standards for a CI Network Learning Project have been articulated, they must be immediately supported through a customized system of assessment.

    There are three kinds of assessment: a) Diagnostic Assessment; b) Formative Assessment; and c) Summative assessment. The establishment of clearly defined Performance and Assessment Standards is fundamental in developing systems of innovation. All assessment is both an individual and collective act. CI NLP Assessment strategies are focused on: a) individual; and b) network performance. All participants in projects must be empowered to assess the value of their own effort and respond in a thoughtful manner to the collective efforts of others.

    The three-part strategy below forms the foundation for assessment of CI NLPs. Assessment operates at the grassroots level of performance and works from the inside of the network learning environment out, in direct contrast to the top-down model. Organizations such as the Education Quality and Accountability Office are based on approaches to assessment, we believe, that are antiquated, limiting, ineffective and in some cases destructive. It is critical for all participants to constantly develop their own inidividual and collective skills in assessment, not to have pre-dertermined (and often naive) forms of assessment imposed on them.

    i) Diagnostic Assessment: The first step in assessment is to understand the current situation. Diagnostic Assessment is a means to analyze and identify needs and goals based on current circumstances. A generic diagnostic assessment process is outlined below:

    • Understand the Current Situation
    • Identify Needs
    • Conduct a Gap Analysis (current situation vs. needs)
    • Identify and Eliminate Inhibitors to Success
    • Create or update the current plan

    ii) Formative Assessment: Since emergence is a common feature of network activity, it is important to identify and be responsive to events and circumstances as they arise. A CI NLP is designed to be forward-looking, and there is a healthy and necessary sense of uncertainty about the future in them. Both opportunities and conflicts will arise. Formative Assessment, or finding effective ways to react to uncertainty as it occurs, is a constant need. The result of formative assessment is feedback that can be contributed back into the network in order to encourage improvement and higher levels of performance. Of the three types of assessment, formative assessment is the most prevalent and persistent.

    As the performance of participants in a learing network becomes more sophisticated, new opportunities for growth are revealed. The purpose of Formative Assessment is to: a) leverage the positive changes in behavior to create new opportunities for innovation; and b) identify emerging inhibitors and eliminate them before they have a chance to impair progress.

    The style of assessment being discussed here is most closely aligned with how an anthropologist might use assessment strategies in conducting fieldwork. A wide variety of data collection tools and techniques are required for effective formative research. This will include: a) surveys and questionnaires; b) interviews; c) team debriefing sessions. All of these tools need to be developed on an on-going basis as generic data collection tools are of little utility in network learning environments.

    iii) Summative Assessment: Summative assessment focuses on making judgments about how effectively the “Performance Objectives” were achieved. Specifically, a summative assessment compares the stated objectives against the actual results and provides an explanation for any gaps that may be apparent.

In CITD, annual performance evaluations for all CI Network Learning Projects form the basis for strategic planning in the following year. The scope of the evaluations will range across the entire range of stated performance objectives (Network Learning, Cultural Development, Digital Entrepreneurship) in each CI NLP Strategic Plan.

Summative assessment answers two key questions: a) How well did the actual performance measure against the intended performance? and b) What are the implications of this for future project development? The final expression of the summative assessment will be included in an annual applied research report.


The development process is a flexible design methodology that integrates elements of the curriculum framework with development methods, processes and tools to anticipate the continuous development of knowledge and technological change.
  1. CI NLP Planning: The first stage of the development process examines what the product should be within the environmental context. It involves defining the goals of the project and the interests of all stakeholders. Using collected research, the planners identify patterns and trends, explore possible solutions, and formulate criteria for evaluating ideas. The planning phase ends with a concept that acts as a “project statement” for the design stage.

  2. CI NLP Design: In the design stage, the issue is “how to make it”. Design involves determining the content, structure, behavior and appearance of the conceived product and developing features that contribute to better quality and performance. Management issues are addressed and the implementation phases are established. The final deliverable is the specification, which serves as the “blueprint” for implementation.

  3. CI NLP Implementation: At this stage, content, design and technical aspects are integrated using effective production techniques, and quality assurance testing is performed to ensure quality of the final product. The final deliverable at this stage is the product.

  4. CI NLP Evaluation: The product is assessed in the actual environment and new directions are developed for the product to grow in a continually changing environment.


CITD Applied Research is designed to stimulate and enhance the performance of the CI Network Learning Projects. By placing each of the CITD Trainers into the role of researcher-investigator, new knowledge about CITD can constantly evolve. By constantly probing and examining why events occur the way they do, they are in an excellent position to publish important research about learning.

The Applied Research component of CITD is designed to solve practical problems in observable ways, rather than to acquire knowledge for its own sake. The goal of the applied researcher is to improve the human condition. Solving problems in education requires a multi-disciplinary approach, that is, teams of educators from different areas working together. Multi-disciplinary projects will utilize the expertise of teachers and students in different fields (e.g., history, art, math, and science). The transparent integration of theory with application in the context of networks will accelerate creativity and knowledge building.

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