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A picture (showing an archetypal example of the pattern) [easier in architecture than training design]. An introductory paragraph setting the context for the pattern (explaining how it helps to complete

some larger patterns).


(to mark the beginning of the problem)

A headline, in bold type, to give the essence of the problem is one or two sentences.

The body of the problem (its empirical background, evidence for its validity, examples of different ways

the pattern can be manifested).

The solution, in bold type.This is the heart of the pattern - the field of physical and social

relationships which are required to solve the stated problem in the stated context. Always

stated as an instruction, so that you know what to do to build the pattern.

A diagrammatic representation of the solution.


(to show the main body of the pattern is finished) A paragraph tying the pattern to the smaller patterns which are needed to complete and embellish it.
make up the pattern language.18

An explicit aim of design patterns is to externalise knowledge to allow accumulation and generalisation of solutions, and to allow members of a community of practice or design group to participate in discussions relating to the design. They also explicitly articulate how theory, empirical evidence, and experience have informed the design solution. These features of design patterns enable their function as tools of communication, collaboration, and learning.19

Since Alexander developed the concept of design patterns in the 1970s it has been applied in fields other than architecture and town planning. Most notably, the concept has been applied in the field of software engineering. It has also, to a lesser degree, been applied in the fields of learning and training design, to document good pedagogical practice.20

A Proposed Model of Training Design based on Alexandrian Design Patterns

Design patterns for organisational learning and knowledge building. Learning technologies are being used widely throughout the Navy training organisation. In the absence of detailed guidance on how best to incorporate technologies in training designs, schools and instructors are forced to make informed guesses. Feedback provided through the quality control process allows iterative improvements to be made. As a result of this process a substantial body of knowledge regarding the application of learning technologies is being acquired throughout the Navy training organisation at the local level. This body of knowledge will continue to grow as more technology-based

  1. (Goodyear, 2004)

  2. (Mor & Winters, 2007)

  3. Goodyear, 2004)

Journal of the Australian Naval Institute

solutions to training problems are developed. (SEE FIGURE 2).

While this knowledge is held in the memories of individual instructors, or in artefacts at the school level, it does not constitute organisational knowledge. For this knowledge to become organisational knowledge, and for organisational learning to occur, this knowledge must be systematically captured in organisational artefacts and be made available to the wider organisation.21

It is proposed that design patterns be used as a medium for capturing this knowledge and disseminating it throughout the Navy training organisation in a standard, readily useable format. As schools and individual instructors develop effective technology-based solutions to training problems they record them as design patterns. Patterns are then lodged with a central coordinating authority whose role is to vet them, assign metadata, and make amendments if required. Design patterns are then made available to the wider training organisation as an online resource.

Design patterns, by virtue of their modular format and fine grain, can be individually amended or replaced, to reflect developments in technology, or changes to the training resulting from quality control feedback. This

21 (Argyris & Schon, 1996)

can be done without the requirement to amend other related patterns in the pattern language. It also means that those elements of training specifically relating to the design pattern can be changed, leaving the rest of the training unaltered.

It is proposed that an online library of design patterns be established as a resource for the Navy training organisation. It can be used to capture organisational knowledge that may otherwise be lost, or remain in localised artefacts, unavailable to the wider organisation. An online library of design patterns can serve as a dynamic body of knowledge, continually evolving, and forming a key part of the continuous improvement cycle. A library of design patterns can be an invaluable asset for teaching training developers, and for facilitating dialogue with training contractors. Most importantly, it can provide the detail lacking in design phase of ADDIE.

Design patterns require that technology use be justified. Design patterns include an explanation of how theory, empirical evidence, or experience has informed the design solution. This requirement may serve to ensure that the Navy's use of learning technologies is informed and considered.

The requirement imposed by design patterns for training

Figure 2: the structure of a typical Alexandrian pattern (Goodyear, 2004)

Issue 153


designers to articulate how theory, empirical evidence, and experience have informed the design solution, may have a positive influence on the ways learning technologies are used. Training designers would have to consider how the proposed technologies can be used in order to achieve the anticipated benefits. The context in which the technology can be used and the training methodology employed will have to be considered in detail. Such detailed considerations will help prevent the use of technology for technology's sake, which Trasler (2002) has observed in some organisations.

In order to articulate the expected benefits from learning technologies, training designers will be required to quantify those benefits. This will, in turn, require consideration of the metrics by which the benefits will be measured. Design patterns may generate a more rigorous and thoughtful approach to the design of training, making it less likely for training designers to base their application of learning technologies on assumed efficacy.

The teaching function of design patterns

A feature of design patterns is that they explicitly articulate how theory, empirical evidence, and experience have informed the design solution. This means that design patterns also perform a teaching or explanatory function.22 This teaching function may prove valuable for building the level of training design knowledge and expertise in the Training Systems (TS) branch, and in the training of junior TS Officers.

The deconstruction of training by problem type is another feature of design patterns that may prove

22 (Goodyear, 2004)

valuable for building training design knowledge and skills in the TS branch. Training is commonly conceptualised as a series of training events, such as demonstrations, practical exercises, or tests. Design patterns require the deconstruction of training by problem type. An example of a problem type might be how to demonstrate the operation of a piece of equipment, given a particular context.

This way of conceptualising training is a generic approach, focusing on the problem type, not the specific training in question. It potentially leads to a much more fine-grained analysis of training design than an approach based on training events. An approach based on training events might, for example, produce a lesson plan that stipulated a demonstration. How to conduct that demonstration is typically left to the discretion of the individual instructor. A design pattern, on the other hand, can provide fine-grained detail of how to conduct the demonstration, in the given context.

Writing design patterns will require the training designer to consider all aspect of the training solution in fine detail. They will also need to give detailed consideration to the training context. If applied to the use of learning technologies, this approach has the potential to generate well-considered, evidence-based training solutions that could be reapplied in similar contexts.

Design patterns as boundary objects. Training design in the Navy often involves collaboration between the training designer, subject matter experts, and training contractors. Increasingly, collaborations also include the producers of learning technologies, such as multimedia designers, graphic artists, or video producers. In the case of such cross-disciplinary collaborations, design patterns can serve as boundary objects. Boundary objects are flexible, epistemic artefacts

that inhabit several intersecting social worlds and satisfy the information requirements of each of them. They provide a shared language that allows idiosyncratic knowledge to be represented in a structure that is understood across disciplinary boundaries.23

There are a number of features of design patterns that make them suitable boundary objects for mediating cross-disciplinary training design collaborations. Their simple, standardised format makes them easy to read and understand. They provide a clear link between the training problem, the context, and the design solution, making the purpose of the collaboration clear to all team members. Finally, they articulate how theory, empirical evidence, and experience have informed the design solution, so minimal background knowledge is required.

McAndrew, Goodyear, and Dalziel (2013) point out that in communities that have adopted a design pattern approach, the patterns become the focus of an extended process of collaboration. Patterns therefore, have the potential to make a major contribution to the sharing of techniques between developers of learning activities.

Design patterns as instruments of continuous improvement. The Navy has two levels of training evaluation. Training is evaluated internally, at the school level, and by the Navy External Evaluation Agency (EEA). Schools generally have a dedicated Quality Control Officer (QCO). The QCO is responsible for monitoring the quality of all courses conducted by the school, ensuring that the curricula are being delivered in accordance with course documentation, and that learning outcomes are being achieved. The EEA evaluates courses from an

23 (Nicolini, Mengis, & Swan, 2012)

Journal of the Australian Naval Institute



organisational perspective, ensuring that the training outcomes are meeting organisational requirements.

Navy training evaluation processes are geared towards rinding deficiencies in training; that is, where the prescribed curriculum has been deviated from, or learning outcomes have not been achieved. The evaluation reports provided to schools by their QCO or the EEA provide recommendations on how to address identified deficiencies. Reports tend not to offer advice or make recommendations on how to improve training that is not found to be deficient in some way. This is not in the QCO's or EEA's charters, nor do they have processes to facilitate the provision of this type of advice.

ADDIE is represented as a continuous improvement cycle. This is arguably a mischaracterisation. Continuous improvement implies that training keeps incrementally improving. Due to the nature of the evaluation process, improvement plateaus at the point at which learning outcomes are being achieved, and organisational requirements are being met. The continual improvement cycle only serves to bring deficient training back to that point. The evaluation process does not identify sources of potential improvement beyond that.

Design patterns provide a means of implementing a true continuous improvement process, by establishing baseline training methodologies on which improvement can be built. The training evaluation process can be used to identify effective training practices, which can be captured as design patterns. Patterns can be continuously updated to reflect improvements in methodologies.

Design patterns can then be used to inform training processes across the entire training organisation. This will ensure that all schools are using optimal methodologies, and that

training approaches are consistent across the training organisation. Training evaluation reports can offer schools useful, specific advice on how to improve training processes, by recommending appropriate design patterns to implement.

QCOs and the EEA, who have visibility of training methodologies in use, and which ones are most effective, are ideally placed to administer such a process. QCOs can write design patterns, based on the data they collect from training evaluations. They can then use these to inform training practices across the school. Patterns can be submitted to the EEA, who are to be responsible for maintaining the central library of design patterns, and coordinating the use of patterns across the wider training organisation. Over time, the QCOs and EEA evaluation staff will evolve into a cadre of training design experts within the Navy training organisation.

A Design Pattern Exemplar

(see example at end)

The rapid co-evolution of learning and communications technologies provides both opportunities and challenges for the Navy training organisation. Technology-based training solutions can potentially improve training safety, efficiency, throughput, trainee satisfaction, and learning outcomes.

The DTM (ADDIE), by virtue of its high upfront analysis requirement, and lack of detailed guidance in the design phase, is not ideally suited to the task of designing technology-based training solutions. If the Navy training organisation is to leverage learning and communications technologies, and avoid the negative consequences associated with inaction, it will require a modified approach to training design.

A modified approach to the design of training that supplements ADDIE

with Alexandrian design patterns offers a number of potential advantages over ADDIE, alone. Design patterns:

  • are a means of organisational learning and knowledge building;

  • require that the use of technology be justified;

  • serve a teaching function;

  • act as boundary objects in cross-discipline training development collaborations; and

  • serve as instruments of continuous improvement.

A design pattern-based approach could be implemented utilising the standard Navy QC and EEA structures and processes. QCOs could write design patterns, based on the data they collect from training evaluations. Patterns could be submitted to the EEA, who would be responsible for maintaining the central library of design patterns, and coordinating the use of patterns across the wider training organisation. iW

LCDR Chris McConachy RAN is a Training Systems Officer who worbforthe DirectorateofNavy Training Capability. His current position isS02 Future Technology and Simulation. In 2013 Chris completed a Master of Learning Science and Technology Degree atthe UniversityofSydney,undertheCivil Schooling Scheme

Journal of the Australian Naval Institute

Issue 153


A Design Pattern Exemplar
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