Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Definitions and Theories of Instructional Design and Technology

Definitions and Theories of Instructional Design and Technology

The change in IDT which impacts the field the most is the shift to the human element. I appreciate that all hope is not place in the technological advancements, but in human advancements. As we are improving our craft, we are able to make wiser decisions about the implementation of technology. Rather than beginning with the new tech, we begin with the target for learning and consider how to most effectively facilitate learners in reaching that target. The past seemed more focused on building and updating technologies. The definitions were also burdensome with some trends. I think that the evolution of the definition has brought more clarity to the field over the past several decades.

My personal definition of IDT is that: Instructional Design and Technology refers to a process in which educators and stakeholders determine learning targets, consider past practices and obstacles, provide professional development, evaluate best practices, implement effective instruction, and reflect on their practice. The process is facilitated through the use of a myriad of technology to collaborate, facilitate, and communicate learning. This definition evolved from coursework as an undergraduate, years as a young teacher, and most recently from an amazing PLC (Professional Learning Community) I have participated in. I value the use of technology which allowed my team to collaborate, research and plan as well as the application of technology in my classroom. I think that my definition has changed due to my own experience, but I feel that the authors helped me to articulate that shift much more clearly.

My PLC collaborated on a math unit which is typically a dry review of all TEKS at the end of third grade. We discussed data from our benchmark assessments and CFAs (common formative assessments). Another concept we considered was student engagement and behaviors in the last weeks of school. So, we planned a May Math Madness unit where students would review and extend our lowest math standards in engaging, mobile ways. Students traveled around with a ticket to different stations. At the station, they would write the learning target in their own words, participate in highly engaging math activities centered around the goal, and then reflect by writing how they had demonstrated the application of that standard at the station. Our team helped each other as we planned the activities, and those of us with more experience assisted newer peers in planning their stations. This lesson series adhered to the six characteristics because the design was centered on student performance and engagement, students monitored their own progress toward their clearly defined goal, we required application of the knowledge rather than a quiz or test, we measured outcomes, made corrections on a station after the initial rotation, and worked as a team. Each lesson was delivered six times as the classes rotated through and the lessons had different instructors (homeroom teachers) each time. The best part of May Math Madness was that students were having such a blast while learning critical content.

Reiser (2012) distinguished teachers from instructional media because of the history of the effectiveness when teachers were viewed in that light: "Teaching and other forms of instruction are simply means to the end of learner performance. Thus, there may be no initial assumption that a live teacher is even needed for the learner to achieve the stated objectives (Branch, R. & Merrill, M. 2012)." I think there was a shift due to the lack of progress until interactive technologies were focused on. I disagree with this stance because I feel that the approach could have changed rather than excluding teachers from consideration as instructional media. Some school districts like mine are choosing to focus their energies on growth-minded, innovative teachers rather than expecting everyone to come aboard to new ideas in the initial roll-out. I would not equate teachers with chalkboards or texts because those are static and lack the interactive, responsive elements which were favorable in the computer technologies. However, Reiser and Dempsey's viewpoint (2012) highlights a danger in our profession. Educators must not be seen as replaceable but as invaluable in instructional design. The intention of instructional design is not merely to implement the use of instructional media, but to deliver learning results. If the media don't do that, we must go back to the design board. If the teacher is the ineffective "media" then we must provide professional development to change that reality.


Reiser, R.A.(2012). A History of Instructional Design and Technology. In R. Reiser and J. Dempsey's, Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology (pp. 1-34). Boston, MA: Pearson.

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