I) Background on my role
As some of you know, I work as a content development lead in a management and consultancy firm. My primary responsibility is to oversee the development of commercial L&D products and services.
II) Germane Lessons
a) Formative and Summative Evaluation
Reiser (2001b) describes a systematic approach to solving educational problems called Programmed Instruction (PI), a term which was likely coined in a 1954 paper by B.F. Skinner entitled “The Science of Learning and the Art of Teaching” (Lockee, Moore, & Burton, 2004). Programmed Instruction is a process that involves an assessment of the educational materials’ effectiveness, the identification of any deficiencies, and the revision of the materials to correct identified deficiencies either prior to or during design (Reiser, 2001b); a process referred to today as formative evaluation. The term formative evaluation comes from work by Michael Scriven in 1967 that highlights the need for instructional materials to be tested with learners while still in draft form (i.e. formative), rather than after they are in final form (i.e. summative) (Reiser, 2001b).
In my experience, formative evaluation is common in the management consulting sector, where timelines are tight and “agile” management practices dominate. Indeed, a cursory examination of recent research suggests that formative evaluation continues to be an oft-used and impactful form of evaluation, and has a proven positive impact on summative evaluation results (Alsalhanie, Das, & Abdus-Samad, 2017).
- b) Rapid Prototyping
In his discussion of 1990’s trends in instructional design, Reiser mentions the rise of rapid prototyping, a cycle of trial and error that continues until a minimum viable product is produced (2001b).
This approach to developing instructional materials is one we use often at ITRG, as it is believed to be both more efficient and more effective. Indeed, it gives us the opportunity to identify deficiencies early, before time and/or the opportunity for correction/optimization are lost (often due to an impending, immovable deadline).
- c) New Tools + Old Practices
In his keynote speeches “The History of the Future of Ed-Tech” (2014a) and “Un-fathomable: The Hidden History of Ed-Tech” (2014b), Watters describes a tension between new tools and old practices. This tension is illustrated by the all-too-common inclination to put course materials designed for in-person instruction online and view it as an online course, which Watters rebukes Khan Academy for doing in their video “The History of Education” (2014b, p.3). Watters also offers the following simple illustration of the tension: “It’s simple to introduce iPads into the classroom, for example. It’s much more difficult to use them to do entirely new things, particularly things that run counter to how classrooms have operated in the past” (2014, p.3).
This tension is all too familiar, as many individuals not acquainted with Ed-Tech research assume that materials developed for in-person instruction should be equally effective, without modification, in a digital environment. It continues to be a part of my job to discuss the drawbacks of this repurposing with both internal and external stakeholders.
At the start of the 21st century, Reiser (2001a; 2001b) advocated a change from the term “instructional technology” to “instructional design and technology” (IDT) as a result of the growth of new practices (instructional design and media employed for instructional purposes) and the associations individuals have with the term technology, namely that it is commonly associated with hardware, software, or physical systems (e.g. computers, overheads) alone. Since 2001, both instructional design and the use of media for instructional purposes have continued to grow, and the myopic view of the term technology has continued (at least outside of the IDT field), offering support to Reiser’s contention that the term IDT more aptly communicates the character of the field.
Reiser also offers insight into the human tendency to take an unjustifiably rosy view of the future when he highlights that people have historically predicted that “new” (at any given time) media will have a dramatic effect on instructional practices; actual effects have been reliably less remarkable than anticipated (2001a). He goes on to make a similar prediction with regard to digital media: “over the next decade, computers, the Internet, and other digital media will bring about greater changes in instructional practices than the media that preceded them” (2001a, p.62). It seems that this bore out, as over a decade later, Bates (2014) states “what distinguished the digital age from all previous ages is the rapid pace of technology development and our immersion in technology-based activities in our daily lives. Thus it is fair to describe the impact of the Internet on education as a paradigm shift…” (2014, p.5).
Alsalhanie1, K.M., Das, S., Abdus-Samad, S. (2017). Formative evaluation impacting the results of summative evaluation – a feedback based cross-sectional study carried out among instructors of an international medical school. International Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, 5(7), 2865-2869. http://www.msjonline.org/index.php/ijrms/article/viewFile/3350/3061
Lockee, B., Moore, D., & Burton, J. (2004). Foundations of Programmed Instruction. In D. H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of research on educational communications and technology (pp. 545–569). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. http://www.aect.org/edtech/20.pdf
Reiser, R. A. (2001). A history of instructional design and technology: Part I: A history of instructional media. Educational Technology Research and Development, 49(1), 53-64.
Reiser, R. A. (2001). A history of instructional design and technology: Part II: A history of instructional design. Educational Technology Research and Development, 49(2), 57-67.
Watters, A. (2014). The History of the Future of Ed-Tech, Chapter 1. In The monsters of education technology. Licensed under the Creative Commons CC BY-SA.
Watters, A. (2014). Un-fathomable: The Hidden History of Ed-Tech, Chapter 2. In The monsters of education technology. Licensed under the Creative Commons CC BY-SA.