Journal of Instructional Science and Technology
ISSN: 1324-0781

Editors-in-Chief: Olugbemiro JEGEDE ( and Som NAIDU(

Volume 1 No 1, October 1995
- - - Article 1 - - -

Analysis of Information Repackaging (IR) Processes using the Instructional Systems Design (ISD) Model


John Agada, Ph.D

School of Library and Information Science
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
Milwaukee, WI 53201

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[Abstract|Introduction|IR and the emerging information environment|An IR Scenario|ISD and IR|Analysis of IR with ISD Model|Tests|Implications|Conclusion|References]


Information repackaging is a systematic approach to the design and provision of information services, particularly in the corporate environment. This paper analyzes the processes involved in repackaging using the Systematic Instructional Design (ISD) model. It contends that, until empirical data is available on information repackaging, the ISD model could be adapted as the Systematic Information Repackaging (SIR) model to give structure to it's elements. The team approach to service design and provision is also advocated for SIR.


The interdisciplinary nature of library and information science is manifest in the adaptation of theories, principles and models from other disciplines. One of such feeder disciplines is education. The obvious applications of instructional theories in the library profession are in the areas of school media center management and library/bibliographic instruction. Other aspects of library and information services could also benefit from research and development in instruction because both the processes of learning and information use are based on selective perception, effective coding, integration and translation of stimuli (Grabowski and Curtis, 1990).

This paper analyses Information Repackaging (IR) processes with the Instructional Systems Design (ISD) model. IR is advocated as a new library and information service which customizes information to meet the specific needs of users (Agada, forthcoming). It adopts a systematic approach to service design through a cycle of diagnosis, prescription, implementation and evaluation of information services(Greer, Agada and Grover, 1994). Until empirical data is available to delineate its detailed elements, the ISD model could serve to give structure to the elements of IR. This paper examines the utility of such a proposition and the staffing implications of adapting the ISD model. The business corporate environment is used to illustrate examples of IR processes.

IR and the emerging information environment

Information has become one of the most important resources in contemporary society. This is especially true for business and commercial ventures. Businesses create markets for their products and services through innovation, quality management, improved customer service, strategic planning and a host of other approaches and techniques. For these efforts to succeed, businesses require access to information that is relevant, current, accurate and comprehensive. Unfortunately, while today's business decision-makers may have electronic access to thousands of information resources, they often lack the time and skills needed to search for, retrieve, interpret, synthesize and apply information to their decision making processes The result is that businesses often fail to take full advantage of the abundance of information at their disposal.

Business managers need "capsulated" information which has been processed and rendered meaningful in the context of their decisions. Consequently, librarians need to design information services for such clientele based on diagnosis of their information needs as inferred from (i) the roles they play; (ii) the structure of such roles in the given work environment or organization; and (iii) their information use patterns, traits and characteristics (Hale, 1986). The composite data generated from such diagnosis would be used to repackage or customize information to match the needs and convenience of the user (Greer, Agada and Groover, 1994; Grover and Caramel, 1994).

IR then entails a systematic process of adding value to information services. These value added components would include but are not limited to information analysis, synthesis, editing, translating and transforming its symbolic and media formats. IR also ensures the currency, accuracy, pertinence, comprehensiveness, ease of comprehension (e.g. technical level, presentation style); and convenience of use (e.g. timing, format of coding). IR services are in consonance with an on-going shift in library and information professions from documents to their content and from collections to their users. Although customized information services have been advocated in the library literature within the last decade (Agada, 1990; Greer, Agada and Grover, 1994, Grover and Hale, 1988; Saracevic, 1986), little guidance has been provided for the systematic design and provision of such services. What principles for instance, underlie the choices involved at each stage of IR and what is the correct sequence to its elements?

An IR scenario

For perennial budget proposals, for example, an IR service could assemble relevant information from a variety of sources such as local archives e.g. the company's past budgets, performance appraisals and projected goals and plans; and external resources e.g. competitive intelligence, market surveys and government regulatory information. These sources are checked for accuracy and currency. Their contents are then synthesized and edited to enhance their pertinence to the overall organizational management philosophy or style, the client manager's role in the budget process, in relation to his/her relevant previous experience, knowledge and skills.

Based on this diagnosis, the information needed is coded or documented in the format that best accommodates the manager's information processing, cognitive and learning styles. Thus, primary information from books, annual reports, video and audio recordings may be reduced to graphs and charts with explanatory notes. The mode and time for delivery of the package would also be designed to gain the manager's attention (relevant to task at hand), and meet his/her constrains in time and other facilities (e.g. effectiveness of operations, thereby increasing the profit margins of the corporation.

ISD and IR

A generic ISD model

ISD models are abstractions which depict the elements and relations of learning situations. They may be procedural or theoretical and may be designed to describe, predict, prescribe or explain the elements of effective instruction in varying degrees. ISD models often incorporate a number of theories (e.g. of motivation, social learning, personality). Theory based models facilitate the assessment of constructs and propositions that evolve from model application. With robust theoretical underpinnings, models serve as complex, analytical and cybernetic processes for understanding and controlling the learning environment, rather than a series of linear, mechanical recipes for instruction (Andrews and Goodson, 1991).

The choice of a generic ISD model to analyze IR is warranted by the considerable overlap in the processes of ISD and IR. Diagnosis of client's perception and processing of stimuli, media selection and production, the systems and formative approaches to design and evaluation respectively to common to both. Consequently, both activities ought to draw on theories of: (a) human perception and interpretation of stimuli, (b) the effective accomplishment of the desired outcomes." (Torkelson, 1977).

According to Andrews and Goodson (1991) a comprehensive ISD model ought to consist of the following elements:

(1) desired outcomes;
(2) development of pretest and posttest;
(3) analysis of learning goals and subgoals;
(4) sequencing of learning goals and subgoals;
(5) analysis of learner population;
(6) formulation of instructional strategies;
(7) media selection and
(8) production;
(9) empirical tryout and revisions;
(10) installing, maintaining and repairing instructional program;
(11) assessment of new needs based on feedback;
(12) consideration of constraints and alternative solutions to instruction;
(13) costing the instructional programs (p. 139)

These ISD model elements serve as a framework for analyzing IR processes and contrasting them with ISD and traditional library and information services.

Analysis of IR with ISD model

Outcomes: The establishment of outcomes is the first stage in both ISD and IR activities. However, teachers play a more active role in determining outcomes of learning experiences than repackagers in information services. Outcomes within the ISD model may be in the form of product descriptions and learning objectives. In IR, outcomes for the manager in the business environment may be cast in terms of his/her mastery of specific tasks rather than subject knowledge. Consequently, IR is more concerned with procedural knowledge with potentials for immediate transfer. Although these differences cast IR as more supportive of training than education, IR is less formal than on the job training.

IR may be differentiated from traditional library services because it measures outcomes in terms of task execution or the complete resolution of information needs (Agada, forthcoming). In a scenario where a manager is charged with automating an office system for instance, the outcome of an IR service would be the successful integration of technology in the office. In traditional library service, successful outcome would be defined by the retrieval of documents on office automation for the manager.

Tests: Pretests and posttests are used to match learning goals and subgoals in ISD.

Testing is less formalized in IR since the client is not accountable to the repackager to the same degree as the student to the teacher. Nevertheless, the repackager needs to assess the pre and anticipated post service states of the client's need and problem situation. In our example, the pre-service efficiency and effectiveness of work routines need to be contrasted with the expected gains of automation. Similarly the relevant knowledge, skills and experience of the manager need to be assessed with reference to the goals of the project. To undertake these, IR may utilize task analysis methodologies such as Critical Incident Technique (Zemke, 1981), Learning Contingency Analysis (Gropper, 1974) as appropriate.

Traditional library services rarely engage in pre and posttests because librarian/client transactions are most often focused on the query statement of clients, rather than their task and problem situation.

Goal analysis: The goals of IR and implied tasks need to be identified, selected and described. The nature and levels of knowledge, skills and attitudes required of the manager also need to be ascertained. Unlike ISD however, no entry level requirements are set in IR. Clientele needs are based on their current competencies, rather than any established standards as obtains with the use of grade levels in ISD.

Matching task goals with client's competency levels has been advocated in the literature of reference services (see for examples Taylor, 1968; and Dervin, 1986) but the practice has not been fully adapted in library services.

Sequencing of goals and subgoals: Goal sequencing in both ISD and IR entail temporal ordering of goals and structuring instruction or information service accordingly. The innovation diffusion model (Rogers, 1983), for instance, which delineates five stages in the innovation adaptation process (awareness, interest, attitude formation, trial decision, adaptation or rejection), would be useful in structuring the stages of the automation process in our example. The immediate and projected information needs at each stage in the process may also be monitored and analyzed with models of information use such as the information search process (Kuhlthau, 1993) and information problem solving (Einsenberg and Berkowitz, 1990) models.

Since traditional library services do not employ a systematic approach to resolving client's information needs, each request posed to the library system is treated as separate and unrelated to the client's overall goals, task and expected outcomes.

Diagnosis of learner population: This step entails ascertaining the information use characteristics of clients. Both ISD and IR would diagnose the manager in the history, relevant previous relevant experience and knowledge, skills and attitudes relative to his/her role in the automation project, language and level of comprehension of automation literature and information processing, cognitive and learning styles, among others. The depth of information sought in IR is however, dependent on the level of desired. The diagnostic process enables the identification of discrepancies between the manager's capabilities (including level of motivation) and the task goals and outcomes.

Diagnosis in traditional library services are often focused more on the subject/topic of the client's query than on the his/her information use characteristics.

Formulation of instructional strategies: This step involves the selection of the means for organizing and sequencing information in IR. ISD activities such as information presentation, the provision of examples, practice and feedback (Reigeluth, 1983) which utilize the principles for gaining attention and facilitating learning may be used in IR to varying degrees. Since the office automation project would necessitate some learning and testing of new knowledge and skills on the part of the manager (and co-workers), some instructional strategies need to be adopted in IR services in support of the project.

Instruction in IR is however, largely client driven and is less formal, less structured than in school settings. Since learning does not always require instruction (Grabowski and Curtis, 1990), it can be safely assumed that IR facilitates effective learning and effective information use, especially with mature and motivated clients.

Except for bibliographic instruction, the focus of traditional library service is in providing physical access to documents, rather than ensuring understanding of its content by adapting instructional strategies of information presentation. Media selection and Production: The principles of media selection and production for ISD also apply to IR. These principles advice on the optimal combinations of symbol, code, channel and media characteristics to enhance perception, comprehension, motivation, transfer, etc. In IR however, the focus in media selection varies depending on the level of IR service intended. The first level may involve retrieval of relevant documents or creation of a database or bibliography. This level of repackaging is most like traditional library service most and constitutes the lowest level of IR. The next level entails analysis and synthesis of information contained in the retrieved sources. This could encompass editing, repurposing and restructuring information through translations, state of the art reports and operational manuals, etc.

The format and presentation styles of the synthesized information would be tailored to the information use characteristics of the client(s). For instance, a manual-type video recording documenting comparative experiences with office automation for instance, might suit the visual oriented manager who has an active experimental learning style (Kolb, 1978) and at the trial decision stage (Rogers, 1983) of adopting an office automation system. This choice utilizes the potentials of video for attitude formation and the realistic portrayal of processes. The message would also be tailored to other needs of the manager e.g. language, comprehension level, context of project etc. The highest level of repackaging is a service equivalent to that rendered by personal advisers or consultants to very busy management executives. Here, the repackager works closely with the client on a project advising on options and recommending appropriate decisions based on familiarity with the subject, project and the manager's experience, knowledge, skills, management philosophy etc. The mode of information packages here is largely oral, interpaced with executive summaries.

The media selection and production stage best distinguishes IR from traditional library service as the latter do not engage in restructuring the content or format of retrieved information sources to suit clients.

Empirical tryout and revision: Unlike the formal delivery of instruction in ISD, the mode of service provision in IR varies depending on the organizational context, the roles clients play in that environment, the patterns and characteristics of information use by individual clients. Such knowledge would suggest the location, timing, and duration of information provision. The information use diagnosis of the manager may suggest for instance, that he/she devotes five minutes before meetings to marshal his thoughts for that meeting but does not like to read voluminous printed reports. Suppose he was a multi-sensual learner who likes to reflect on his observations (Kolb, 1984). A three minute video presentation with highlights of the issues in his automation plans may be screened in his/her office during the five minute preparation time. The content of the program would depend on the stage he/she is in the adaptation process. Questions raised by the video or consequent discussions at the meeting may constitute new information needs and bases for further repackaging.

Revisions of services is ultimately based on the formative nature of IR assessment. IR services are assessed at two levels: quality of information; and utility value of information in task completion. The quality measures relate to such "objective" criteria as the intrinsic merit, validity and reliability of information. The utility measures relate to the ease of comprehension and application of information provided. These would entail correspondence between the information provided and the environment, role and information use characteristics of clients. The evidence of successful IR for the automation project ought to be in improved working routines and enhanced productivity. IR services also ought to provide learning experiences whereby clients acquire sophistication and efficiency in information use. Revised services ought to build on the enhance information use habits of clients.

Installing, maintaining and repairing instructional program: Like ISD, materials and procedures are developed to support the information needs of IR clients. The continuous diagnosis of the environment, roles, and information use patterns of clients reveal the extent to which the service infrastructures, strategies, and information sources need to be maintained, fine tuned or updated.

Repair is on-going in IR service because of the formative nature of the process. Since the client ultimately determines how well he/she has been served, the entire IR processes are undergirded by close interactions between the repackager and client. The repackagerclosely monitors the dynamics of the client's needs, perceptions and feedback. Such feedback are used to fine tune subsequent information searches and repackaging designs.

Assessment of new needs based on feedback: Like ISD, the exposure to information in IR generates feedback which may suggest new needs resulting from changes in the perspectives or goals of clients. Using appropriate process models, the repackager may anticipate the needs which might evolve from resolving one phase of the task. For instance, the trial decision stage in the innovation adaptation model (Rogers, 1983) is often followed by rejection or adaptation of innovation. Rejection would initiate another cycle of the adaptation process: this time requiring more critical evaluation of automation options. Adaptation, on the other hand, may require additional diagnosis of the manager to knowledge of his/her project implementation skills for project execution. The format of sources for the manager's new level of needs may now include operational manuals, market reports and trends, evaluations and impact analysis.

Since traditional library services are hardly systematic, user feedback often initiates a completely new service.

Consideration of constraints and alternative solutions to instruction: The consideration of alternatives assume some evaluation of IR service. Whereas evaluation in ISD may entail formal school testing, in IR, it relates primarily to the resolution of an information need for the client. Where the client's information need is unresolved by IR. service, formal training using ISD may be suggested as alternative solution.

Since evaluation of library services rarely address the transfer value of information, recommendations of additional information sources may constitute the ready remedies to unhelpful service.

Costing: Realistic costing of any service is relative to its value. Was the service worth the cost? In ISD, the value of student learning may not be directly measurable after instruction. In IR., a well repackaged document saves the client's time, labor and cost. If the service enables the client to execute the task without incurring much inconvenience (e.g. long searches for documents which may be too voluminous, in an unfamiliar language,, too brief, lengthy or technical for the client's purpose, etc.), then IR service was cost effective. Since "time is money" in corporate business, a systematic approach to IR service would be a productivity boosting and money saving device.

Costing in library services is often compared to volume of use (e.g. circulation statistics), rather than impact of resources of user needs.


From the foregoing, it is apparent that the ISD model does reflect the sequence of IR processes, although their objectives and content may vary. The ISD model may therefore be adapted to IR with some modifications to the descriptions of stages in the model. It is hoped that empirical data would be generated from its use to warrant the development of a systematic information repackaging model (SIR). Empirical data would also help to distinguish varieties of the model as dictated by depth or level of repackaging for diverse clientele and circumstances.

Most librarians are however unequipped to render the full range of service modes implied in IR. Media production and needs diagnosis skills for examples suggest that the repackager has some exposure to courses in message design as offered in schools of instructional technology and diagnostics, interviewing and counselling dynamics as offered in programs such as counselling respectively. Repackagers may also need to have subject specialties, depending on the technical level of the topics their clients work with. These factors may point to the need for SIR teams such as those used in ISD. Such teams may consist a diagnostician who analyzes information needs; the librarian who retrieves all the information pertinent to that need; a message designer who develops a blueprint for the content of the package; and a media specialist who translates the blueprint into the appropriate symbol/channel/media combinations.


IR consists of the processes of reconstructing information and its format or medium to save the time, labor and cost of the client. Repackaging services are the result of attempts to cope with the information explosion and the competition for fast, reliable, convenient and efficient information support for corporate decision making. The demand for IR services is likely to increase. Consequently, there is need to delineate the essential features of IR to guide practitioners. The ISD model offers a useful framework both in structuring the elements of IR as well as utilizing a team approach service design and provision.

As the contrasts with traditional library services indicate, IR introduces new variables into the provision of information services. The systematic nature of IR for instance, acknowledges that trying to meet information needs can be an indeterminate and complex undertaking. This challenge necessitates that librarians re-invent their institution and services to remain competitive in the emerging information arena. The proposed SIR model and team approach offer avenues to the library profession to render truly user-driven services to their clientele.


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