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The model

According to Willis (1995) defines the following characteristics of a typical constructivist-interpretivist instructional design model

  1. The ID process is recursive, non-linear, and sometimes chaotic.
  2. Planning is organic, developmental, reflective, and collaborative.
  3. Objectives emerge from design and development work.
  4. General ID experts don't exist.
  5. Instruction emphasizes learning in meaningful contexts.
  6. Formative evaluation is critical.
  7. Subjective data may be the most valuable

In contrast to many instructional systems design models, Willis claims in particular that objectives do not guide lesson development, rather that they emerge during development. The main components of his development method are:

  • Define
  • Design
  • Develop
  • Disseminate

Botturi et al. summarize the R2D2 overarching principles as follows:

  1. Recursion: the steps/elements are revisited at different times and decisions can be made anew.
  2. Reflection based on feedback and ideas from many sources, which is contrasted with the linear design rationality of linear models.
  3. Non-linearity, focal points instead of steps (e.g. a bit like the Kemp design model.
  4. Participatory design: the whole idea behind this model is that the ID process is not only the designer's job, but rather team work, in which different people collaborate. Communication and negotiation acquire a primary role here.



  • Botturi, L., Cantoni, L., Lepori, B. & Tardini, S. (2007). Fast Prototyping as a Communication Catalyst for E-Learning Design. In M. Bullen & D. Janes (eds), Making the Transition to E-Learning: Strategies and Issues. Hershey, PA: Idea Group, pp. 266-283. PDF Preprint
  • Chen, Hui-Hui (2005), Selecting Computer Mindtools: Usability Of A Web Tool For Constructiivist Learning - A Qualitative Perspective, PhD. Dissertation, Texas Tech University. PDF
  • Karagiorgi, Y., & Symeou, L. (2005). Translating Constructivism into Instructional Design: Potential and Limitations. Educational Technology & Society, 8 (1), 17-27. PDF
  • Tam, Maureen (2000), Constructivism, Instructional Design, and Technology: Implications for Transforming Distance Learning, Educational Technology & Society 3(2) ISSN 1436-4522 PDF
  • Willis, J. (1995). A recursive, reflective instructional design model based on constructivist-interpretist theory. Educational Technology, 35(6), 5-23
  • Willis, J. (1998). Alternative instructional design paradigms: What's worth discussing and what isn't. Educational Technology, 38 (3), 5-16.