Instructional Technology/Instructional Design/The Paradigm Shift

Introduction Edit

It would certainly help if we know what is a paradigm in the context of Instructional Technology. Then, we might be able to explain and discuss paradigm shift.

Davis (1978) defines paradigm as "a more concrete conceptualisation of an underlying idea or theory, involving definitions, statements and interrelationships between the statements" (p.23). In the context of instructional technology (educational technology, he views that the activity of a group of people working together sharing common values and concepts would likely be a shared paradigm. In time this paradigm or series of paradigms will be presented and/or proposed. He notes that "once a paradigm or series of paradigms has been proposed, there will still be details and ambiguities to be identified and resolved" (p.23). In this case, variations of a proposed paradigm will be formed. Lastly, Davis (1978) critically states "the paradigms that are currently available are worryingly limited, although the variations offered seem endlessly lacking in anything creatively different" (p. 23).

As commonly known, audio-visual education, behavioral psychology, and systems theory are the foundations of the field of IT. The trend being identified here could add the fourth foundation, philosophical. Visscher-Voerman and Gustafson (2004) stated that analyze, design, develop, implement, and evaluate (ADDIE) activities cannot be observed consistently in application of design processes. Hence, designers can show different frequencies and sequences during the progress of the phases. The transitions and overlaps between the stages produced diversity, too. That is why the different models have been revealed. As a result of these data, they recommended a conceptual framework including of four paradigms for design:

  1. Instrumental paradigm: planning-by-objectives
  2. Communicative paradigm: communication to reach consensus.
  3. Pragmatic paradigm: interactive and repeated try-out and revision.
  4. Artistic paradigm: creation of products based on connoisseurship (p. 76).

Philosophical Roots Edit

Visscher-Voerman and Gustafson (2004) proposed each paradigm with their philosophical movements, (a) modernism, (b) critical theory, (c) pragmatism, and (d) post modernism. They are consistent source for different stances and rationalities.

Instrumental paradigm relies on the idea of modernism. In modernism, the end (the solution to problem) is defined separately from and prior to the means (the way to solve the problem). The rationality of modernism is ends-means reasoning. General emphasis of this philosophy is logical reasoning and decomposition of problem into smaller problems to solve. That is why instrumental paradigm concerns with objectives that were expressed as a part of system or programming (Januszewski, 2001).

Communicative paradigm asserts that design process is realized on the basis of communication and negotiation perceptions and opinions to solve a problem. The parading is stemmed from critical theory. According to critical theory, means and ends cannot be perceived independently. Communicative rationality, the current representative of critical theory, aims at reaching consensus. Pragmatic paradigm proposes that design is a process of quick building, testing, and revising several prototypes or early product versions. This paradigm relies on pragmatism and pragmatic rationality. It offers that human kind must focus on practical solutions rather than theoretical issues. If something works well and is perceived as useful, this meant that true statement.

According to artistic paradigm, the unique expertise and experience are the critical players of the design process. This paradigm advocates that design processes cannot be planned and are made in direct reactions to the specific situations where the designer involved. Artistic paradigm is associated with postmodernism. Postmodernism seeks for ultimate theory and the one-only-truth. However, sciences reduce the reality of one view to one foundation. Deconstruction is a strategy which postmodernism uses. In that strategy, current literature and existing meaning are criticized and denied. Postmodernism tries to close gap between the science and the arts. That is why the rational of it is called artistic.

Trend Effect on Instructional Design Edit

These four paradigm views were developed to: (a) emphasize and highlight the different applications of design processes in order of ADDIE activities, (b) help designers understand differences between design approaches and their activities, and (c) facilitate designers’ own design work processes and own design styles, and (d) support values and limitations of each paradigm that are useful form one situation to another (Visscher-Voerman & Gustafson, 2004).

Kozma (1994) stated that traditional instructional design models do not address the complex interrelationships among media, method, and situations. Most of them were derived from behavioral models. For this reason, they cannot be useful in constructivist environment, social models of learning (Winn, 1989, as cited on Kozma). These four paradigms could be identified as a potential impact trend because after that framework, the model concept of the IT could be rethought. Hence, the framework supports designers with all possible philosophically rooted rationales including necessary techniques and tools. Even though there are too many models in the IT field, especially for design processes, most of them are from the same perspective. In fact, the models seem different but their point of view for analyzing the problem is the same. In contrast to these models, this framework provides different angles to analyze the problem. For this reason, it could be named as the fourth foundation of the IT field.

Visscher-Voerman and Gustafson (2004) suggested that additional field based research should be implemented to analyze the benefits of design practices for both theorists and practitioner. Because of this point, the framework also provides a concrete relation between theory and practice components of the IT field. The relation can be determined more empirically than ever. This suggestion is going to lead the major dissertation titles in future.

References Edit

  • Davis, I.K. (1978). Educational technology: archetypes, paradigms and models. In Donald P. Ely, Donald P. & Tjeerd Plomp Tjeerd (Eds.), Classic Writings on Instructional Technology (pp. 15-29). Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, Inc..
  • Januszewski, A. (2001). Educational Technology: The Development of a Concept. Englewood, Colorado: Libraries Unlimited, Inc.
  • Kozma, R.B. (1994). Will media influence learning? Reframing the debate. Educational Technology Research & Development, 42(2), 7-19.
  • Visscher-Voerman, I. & Gustafson, K. L. (2004). Paradigms in the theory and practice of education and training design. Educational Technology, Research and Development, 52(2).