Internet Time Blog: Another way of looking at instructional design

This link, from the Internet Time blog by way of Sephen’s Web, offers some interesting context on instructional design theory. At the same time it raises some interesting questions about curriculum development techniques and about how we approach the broad issues of technology planning in this class.

In adult and continuing education programs, the term program planning is often used to describe the same set of activities that are defined as curriculum development in K-12 and Higher Education. When I taught program planning courses at Syracuse, I had a deck of about 50 overheads showing various planning models lovingly collected over the years from text books, journal articles and conference presentations. (The class where I went through them one by one was one exciting piece of education, believe you me!) Nearly all of them were variations of the ADDIE model identified in this post–neatly drawn flow charts or checklists that everyone knew bore almost no resemblance to the way programs were plans, classes were designed or adults learned. Cross says it this way.

Dipping into the rapid flow of knowledge streaming by, workers pull up a ladle of knowledge never seen before, but knowledge of a world now downstream. The ADDIE model breaks down in times of change or when we no longer buy the concept that an expert needs analyst can somehow suck the important knowledge out of a subject matter expect and encapsulate it into a training intervention. Furthermore, it is folly to imagine that anyone can “control” other human beings. We can give them a little shove here and there but that’s about it.

Some of the thoughts in this post are very applicable to our experience together in this class:

  • Our goal is to create a learning environment that improves all of our abilities to make use technology in learning more effectively.
  • We all have a responsibility to maintain the environment, “but then we have to let the plants (or the people) grow as they will.”
  • “Neither nature nor the workplace will cooperate by going into suspended animation so we can tweak the details without things changing all the time. Everything flows.” Technology changes.
  • “Organizations and their members are living things, and the landscape/learnscape analogy invites us to consider nature, symbiosis, interconnections, genetic make-up, adaptation, the change of seasons, and life cycles. ” This is in stark contrast to much of the thinking by technologists and those who would seek to reduce education to a set of measurable objectives.

Something in preparing for this class has triggered me to think more seriously again about my philosophical roots (educationally speaking). As Jay Cross says, “In the mechanical world, I’d wrap this up with a conclusion. In a natural world, I know that this is but one step on a long journey.” It’s nice to have permission to just end a post without bringing it to a logical conclusion.