Instructional Technology/Postmodernist Thoughts

Instructional Systems Design's team approach to design is considered postmodern because it rejects the idea of a central authority. Instruction should be designed based on individual needs as individuals are viewed as decentered by postmodernists. Constructivist theory and hypertext both emphasize the individual learner. If we view ourselves as postmodernists, when developing instruction, we should focus on the process rather than the content or information because information changes rapidly.

Although Instructional Design is based on a scientific, systematic and quantitative paradigm, postmodernists perceive it as an art as well as a science and suggest that instructional designers become "Connoisseurs."

Andrew Yeaman (1994) outlined nine ideas for postmodern instructional design:

1. Accept that there a e several workable solutions to every design problem.

2. Expect that students or trainees will interpret instruction in different ways.

3. Examine and learn from instruction that fails as well as instruction that succeeds.

4. Metaphors, symbols and models should be used cautiously.

5. Determine if technological fixes have improved problems or created more.

6. Avoid idealism that all students/trainees will have absolute correspondence in their understanding - there is never a true meeting of the minds.

7. Avoid authoritarian approach - give some control to learners.

8. Look for contradictions in your messages and in other's.

9. Plan instruction based on learners' needs not just technologies.

With UNESCO's Education for Everyone by 2015 initiatives underway, this philosophy is extremely applicable, especially in terms of creating instruction across geographical, linguistic, and cultural boundaries. Culture, language and societal contexts color contextual meaning. Culture not only affects how we learn, but determines how we think, and how we think about learning. As instructional designers, we need to be thinking more holistically about the design of instruction. This is especially true as we move from local design, development and deployment to more global implementations.


Yeaman, A.R.J. (1994). Nine ideas for postmodern instructional design. In D.H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of research for educational communications and technology (pp. 285-286). New York: Simon and Schuster Macmillan.