Student diversity complicates the task of IT instruction. Luckily, IT has a proven strategy for handling complexity: modeling systems in layers. The OSI seven layer reference model for networking is one notable example. So are any number of complex n-tier software architectures. If a large task is overly-complicated and therefor unsuited to straightforward analysis, IT often favors divide and conquer strategies. That will be the approach here. Instead of trying to identify a totalizing, one-size-fits all pedagogy for every student of every type, we will instead outline an assortment of strategies, each one of which is workable and understandable in its own terms. Once we have enough of these tools in our kit, so to speak, then we will then address the questions of which technique to apply when; is there an ideal sequence; and what sorts of freedom to improvise may become available precisely because of the ready availability of stock techniques? These stock techniques are education’s answer to “design patterns”, models you can go with because they are known to work. Just as no given design pattern solves every IT problem directly, and just as any given design pattern will likely need customization for any particular project, none of the approaches in the following sections should be taken as the final word in how to deliver a lesson. Start with these patterns, don’t end with them!
The most recognizable educational design pattern is called “direct instruction”, In effect, direct instruction is a quasi-reference model. Even if an instructor chooses not to use direct instruction, every instructor should know what direct instruction is. For that reason, direct instruction will be the first model detailed in the sections that follow.