That 4-letter Word…WIDS


Last spring I had the chance to help develop a Master Course using what many of us lovingly call “That 4-letter word… WIDS” (Worldwide Instructional Design System).  This past summer I continued to work on two more Master Courses.

A Master Course goes into more detail than what we typically document within WIDS, going beyond Course descriptions, Competencies, Criteria, and Performance Indicators. Master Courses include Learning Plans, PATs (Performance Assessment Tasks), Course Materials, and Rubrics, all entered into the correct area of the WIDS software.

I have never quite embraced the WIDS software.  Although I’m continually in update-mode with my curriculum, I only use WIDS occasionally, forgetting everything I ‘learned’ the last time I was there. To me, WIDS has always been an obstacle to overcome, an after-thought of documentation that was confusing and difficult to use.  Although its many revisions since I started using it several years ago have made it easier to maneuver, it still seems to need…more. 

  • More…suggested hints or rules…how many competencies should there be for a 3-credit course…how many criteria and performance indicators…how many should you look to accomplish per class…or how many classes are needed to accomplish just one…and how should they be phrased…and although they should relate, why do they sometimes seem to say pretty much the same thing?  What about Learning Plans and PATs?
    Help me WIDS.  Help me get you into my heart! (Yes, I will now be singing ‘Help Me Rhonda’ for the rest of the night)

  • More…examples or definitions within each of the menu items and fields.  Remind me what I need to put there and why.  Remind me when I need to use Bloom’s verbs and when it doesn’t matter.  Give me examples.  Good teaching methods use modeling and examples to further show and clarify.
    Why don’t you use those methods, WIDS?
  • More…simplistic overview….why can’t we look at everything as one big diagram?  The competencies, criteria, performance indicators… and how about the Learning Plans and PATs…they are all related to one another, so why can’t we look at them all together in a diagram form?
    This seems like a given, WIDS.  A picture says a thousand words and shows at a glance the connection of components, sound familiar, WIDS?.

  • More…Learning Plans to choose from. How about a repository to hold several learning plans and even PATs so that teachers can choose their preferred lesson or assessment from a pool of approved options?  How about a repository from all colleges who use WIDS for a similar course with the same competency(ies)?
    Two brains are better than one.  How about 10 or 16 or 100, WIDS?

How about you?

How is your college using WIDS?  Do you love it, or is it one of your 4-letter words?  Have you had some of these same thoughts? I’d love to hear what you think.

“Help me, Rhonda. Help, help me, Rhonda. Help me, Rhonda, yeah…. get WIDS into my heart!”