Technology I, II, and III: Criteria for understanding and improving the practice of instructional technology

My dissertation.

In an earlier era of instructional technology, researchers proposed a set of criteria to help practitioners understand what assumptions about their work could help them develop well-designed instruction, as well as what assumptions could lead them to develop rigid instruction that did not characterize the goals they had for their practice. They named these criteria Technology I, II, and III. Technology I presupposed that using physical hardware improved instruction. Technology II presupposed that using formulas or strategies improved instruction. Technology III was the belief that good instruction could consist of many different product or process technologies, but that technology use alone did not define good instruction. Rather, good instruction was the realization of improved systems in which learning could take place. I used a historical case study method to analyze the major themes of Technology I, II, and III, as well as reasons why some practitioners might limit themselves to only Technology I or II. My purpose was to discover how to help instructional technologists better accomplish more of the goals they want to achieve. I compared the original goals of two instructional technologies (programmed instruction and problem-based learning), along with twelve case study reports of actual practice of these technologies, against the criteria for Technology I, II, and III. I found that Technology I, II, and III can describe the goals and practices of instructional technologists. Additionally, I discovered four reasons why instructional technologists may limit themselves to Technology I or II, and therefore might not achieve all the important goals for their practice: (a) distracted focus (or compromised integrity); (b) status quo adherence; (c) solidification; and (d) deliberately chosen Technology I or II. I also discovered three methods to help instructional technologists to avoid limiting themselves and more consistently practice Technology III: (a) legitimate evaluation; (b) adopting guiding principles for practice; and (c) using opinion leaders to disseminate the value of Technology III. This study also provides recommendations to help instructional technologists use Technology III to help them better develop flexible instructional technology that better characterizes their goals for their practice.

At BYU Scholars Archive

At ResearchGate

Learning from programmed instruction: Examining implications for modern instructional technology

Based on my thesis research.

This article reports a theoretical examination of several parallels between contemporary instructional technology (as manifest in one of its most current manifestations, online learning) and one of its direct predecessors, programmed instruction. We place particular focus on the underlying assumptions of the two movements. Our analysis suggests that four assumptions that contributed to the historical demise of programmed instruction—(a) ontological determinism, (b) materialism, (c) social efficiency, and (d) technological determinism—also underlie contemporary instructional technology theory and practice and threaten its long-term viability as an educational resource. Based on this examination, we offer several recommendations for practicing instructional technologists and make a call for innovative assumptions and theories not widely visible in the field of instructional technology.

At BYU Scholars Archive


At ResearchGate

The rise and fall of programmed instruction: Informing instructional technologists through a study of the past

My thesis.

Instructional technologists have recently been called upon to examine the assumptions they hold about teaching and learning, and to consider how those assumptions can affect their practice of the discipline. This thesis is an examination of how the assumptions instructional technologists hold can result in instructional materials that do not accomplish the original goals the developers set out to achieve. I explored this issue by examining the case study of programmed instruction, an educational movement from the mid-20th century that promised to revolutionize education but never lived up to its potential. Programmed instruction was heavily influenced by the assumptions of behavioral psychology, such as determinism (human behavior is controlled by scientific law), materialism (the only real world is the physical world), and empiricism (individuals can know the world around them only through the natural senses). It was also influenced by the assumptions of social efficiency (society must actively find the most efficient solutions to social problems) and technological determinism (technology is the most important force in causing social change). These assumptions manifested themselves in a variety of ways in the programmed instruction movement, including a redefinition of all learning problems into the terms of behavioral psychology, an over-reliance on standardized processes of instruction, and a belief that technology alone could solve educational problems. The ways in which programmed instruction manifested itself resulted in the movement prescribing a very rigid and inflexible method of instruction. Because of its inflexibility, programmed instruction quickly fell out of favor with educators and the public.
Some modern applications of instructional technology, such as online learning, seem to rely on the same assumptions as programmed instruction did. I conclude this thesis with a discussion of how understanding the assumptions of programmed instruction, and how they led to the movement’s rigidity, can help modern instructional technologists develop online learning materials that are more flexible and able to meet the needs of the students for which they are intended.

At BYU Scholars Archive

At ResearchGate

Introduction to instructional design

Sample Syllabus

Introduction to Instructional Design Syllabus – Winter 2017

Textbooks I Use/Have Used

Design Thinking: Understanding How Designers Think and Work, by Nigel Cross

An Architectural Approach to Instructional Design, by Andrew S. Gibbons

The Design Way: Intentional Change in an Unpredictable World (2nd ed.), by Harold G. Nelson and Erik Stolterman


Peer review of instructional design work job aid (students helping students)