Arguably one of the best articles I’ve read in years (re: Constructivism doesn’t work!)

Now, now, all you constructivists out there just settle down. I approach the whole behaviorist/constructivist conversation with my own beliefs, but without judgement for those who don't see it like I do. I very much adhere to the behaviorist philosophy, and personally have major issues with some of the tenets set forth by constructivism. I did, however, run across a GREAT article that looks empirically at constructivism. It was linked from one of the blogs I read (I didn't note which one), but it is called Why minimal guidance during instruction does not work: An analysis of the failure of constructivist, discovery, problem-based, experiential, and inquiry-based teaching by Paul Kirschner, John Sweller, and Richard Clark. This .pdf states that this was in press for January 2006 in Educational Psychologist, but I'll admit I'm too lazy to check that fact out.

In short, it takes an empirical look at all minimal guidance instruction (by whatever name you want to call it), and when it comes down to the numbers--which to me, are what matters in research--it can't stand up.

I guess what I like most here (other than the conclusion ;-) ) is how systematically this was approached. I liked the memory approach. It makes perfect sense.

I think the authors were fair as well. They did distinguish between novel information (information new to the learner) and information for learners who already have some measure of expertise within the subject-matter area. In short, the minimal guidance approach can actually lead to a loss of learning with novel information (hey, they cite the sources of the studies), can produce more errors, does not produce expertise, and has no more effect than guided instruction in experienced learners.

One interesting question for those proponents of minimally guided instruction brought up in the article. Handlesman et al. (2004--and I'm not citing this here, just look at the .pdf) ask:
". . . why do outstanding scientists who demand rigorous proof for scientific assertions in their research continue to use and, indeed defend on the bias of intuition alone, teaching with methods that are not the most effective?"

Good question. I don't get it either.



Plagiarism and the Internet

5:01 AM , 0 Comments

Doug Johnson had an interesting post on his Blue Skunk Blog today about plagiarism and the internet:

This is exactly the type of thing I talk about with my students. It's time for us to be innovative as instructors. We can't keep doing the same things over and over again and complain about the educational system or that students aren't learning. I think a lot of the problem is not just lazy students, but most definitely lazy teachers. It's easier for them to do what's always been done than to try to innovate and change.

It's times like this I feel blessed to be an instructional designer. Though that at times does cause me problems (because I feel inclined to almost completely redesign each course every time I teach it).

It's like I tell my students: Good teaching is hard work.


Moodle upgrade

1:16 AM , 0 Comments

My grad students love Moodle (see the past post about CMS). Apparently they've released a new upgrade that sounds pretty darn good:


The Proper Study of Instructional Design

So, as it always seems, here I am as a young assistant professor still trying to figure out my place in this world. You know, who am I, what is my line of research, and does it really matter? So I was reading in the new edition of Issues and Trends in Instructional Design and Technology today, specifically in Chapter 32: The Future of Instructional Design, which is a point/counterpoint between David Merrill and Brent Wilson. As it always seems, I think like Merrill. (Could it be that it was because he was my teacher? Hmm . . . )

First Merrill breaks down the terminology of the proper study of instructional design as such:

  • science: the pursuit of understanding

  • technology: the creation of artifacts

  • theory: describing phenomena and predicting (hypothesis) consequences from given conditions

  • research: applying appropriate methodology to test these predictions

  • instructional design theory: understanding what conditions are necessary for a learner to acquire specific instructional goals, specific knowledge and skill, or specific learning outcomes

He then continues to break down the technology of what we do.

  • technology of instructional design: using empirically verified instructional design theory to develop instructional products designed to enable students to efficiently and effectively acquire desired instructional outcomes

  • technology of instruction: breaks down into three activities . . .

  1. the principles of effective and efficient instruction (instructional design theory) be captured in tools that provide intellectual leverage to designers who may not know the required instructional design theory

  2. demonstrate the use of these tools in designing and/or developing an instructional product

  3. predict the performance of this product and then test this performance in a trial with students from the target population

So then an instructional scientist attempts to discover and test principles for instruction, and the instructional technologist uses the principles discovered by the scientist to develop and test conceptual tools and technology-based tools that can be used by instructional designers for the production of instructional products.

So back to the question: what am I? Am I an instructional scientist or an instructional technologist? Well, that's the problem. I want to be both.

Is that feasable?

Is that OK?

I hope I work this all out someday.


YouTube Hall of Fame

5:44 AM , , 0 Comments

One of my favorite writers is Bill Simmons, or the Sports Guy (you can find him on ESPN's Page 2). Today he posted his YouTube Hall of Fame. YouTube has long been one of my favorite websites (I love being able to watch all the old 80s videos), but this is just great. You can see his list here.



7:11 PM , , 1 Comments

So it's good enough for my buddies Dave Wiley and Trey Martindale (should I really trust those guys this much?), and so I went ahead and signed up at Technorati. Honestly, I'm not sure what it's all about, but it can't hurt.

I'll have to explore more later.


Foundations readings revisited

6:20 AM , , 1 Comments

So, apparently something crazy has happened. Just one day after I get that list posted of readings for my Foundations class, I found another book. I checked to see if I could change my order for fall, but I really shouldn't--not can't, it'll just be a pain.
Reiser, R.A. & Dempsy, J.V. (2007). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology. 2nd edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

It's all the other stuff combined, the types of readings I wanted, and it's recent. Personally, I'm giddy with anticipation.


Reading list for Foundations of Educational Technology

5:48 AM , , 2 Comments

So I'm finishing up my syllabus and reading list for this fall's Foundations of Educational Technology class. It is meant to be the introductory course for all our Master's and Doctoral students. I initially started with the syllabus used at Utah State (my alma mater), and from there I worked on it and tried to get it to what I thought and felt was relevant for our students today. Here's what I've got so far (and that's pretty much how it's going to stay unless something crazy happens):

• Clark, J. & Dede, C. (2006, June). Robust designs for scalability. Paper to be presented at the Association for Educational Communications and Technology Research Symposia, Bloomington, IN.

• Ely, D.P. & Plomp, T. (1996). Classic writings on Instructional Technology, Volume 1. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited. (Select chapters)
o AECT. The Definition of Educational Technology: A Summary
o Churchman, C.W. On the Design of Educational Systems
o Davies, I.K. Educational Technology: Archetypes, Paradigms and Models
o Gagné, R.M. Learning Hierarchies
o Heinich, R. Is There a Field of Educational Communications and Technology?
o Skinner, B.F. The Science of Learning and the Art of Teaching

• Ely, D.P. & Plomp, T. (2001). Classic writings on Instructional Technology, Volume 2. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited. (Select chapters)
o Clark, R.E. Reconsidering Research on Learning from Media
o Dick, W. & Carey, L. The Systematic Design of Instruction: Origins of Systematically Designed Instruction
o Hannafin, M.J. Emerging Technologies, ISD, and Learning Environments: Critical Perspectives
o Heinich, R. The Proper Study of Instructional Technology
o Jonassen, D.H. Objectivism versus Constructivism: Do We Need a New Philosophical Paradigm?
o Reigeluth, C.M. In Search of a Better Way to Organize Instruction: The Elaboration Theory

• Gibbons, A.S. & Rogers, C.P. (2006, June). Coming at design from a different angle: Functional design. Paper to be presented at the Association for Educational Communications and Technology Research Symposia, Bloomington, IN.

• Jonassen, D., Strobel, J., & Gottdenker, J. (2006, June). Model building for conceptual change. Paper to be presented at the Association for Educational Communications and Technology Research Symposia, Bloomington, IN.

• Merrill, M. D., Drake, L., Lacy, M. J., & Pratt, J. (1996). Reclaiming instructional design. Educational Technology, 36 (5), 5-7.

• Merrill, M.D. (2000). Write your dissertation first and other essays on graduate education. Available:

• Merrill, M.D. (2002). A pebble in the pond model for instructional design. Performance Improvement, 41(7), 39-44.

• Merrill, M.D. (2002). First principles of instruction. Educational Technology Research & Development, 50(3), 43-59.

• Reiber, L. (1998). The proper way to become an instructional technologist. 1998 Peter Dean Lecture, Division of Learning and Performance Enhancements, Association for Educational Communications and Technology.

• Reiser, R.A. (2001). A history of instructional design and technology: Part II: A history of instructional design. Educational Technology Research & Development, 49(2), 57-67.

• Ross, S.A. & Morrison, G.R. (2001). Getting started in instructional technology research. Association for Educational Communications and Technnology.

• Seels, B.B. & Richey, R.C. (1994). Instructional Technology: The definition and domains of the field. Bloomington, IN: Association for Educational Communications and Technology.

• Spector, J.M. (2006, June). From learning to instruction: Adventures and advances in instructional design. Paper to be presented at the Association for Educational Communications and Technology Research Symposia, Bloomington, IN.

• vanMerriënboer, J.J.G., Clark, R.E., & deCroock, M.B.M. (2002). Blueprints for complex learning: The 4C/ID model. Educational Technology Research and Development, 50(2), 39-64.

• Wiley, D. A. (2000). Connecting learning objects to instructional design theory: A definition, a metaphor, and a taxonomy. In D. A. Wiley (Ed.), The Instructional Use of Learning Objects: Online Version.

Basically, I tried to find articles in four different areas: History of the field, how to study the field, select design theories (old and new) and current research.

Comments welcome.


Open Source CMS

This summer term I am teaching (in addition to the EDTC 3123 -- preservice teacher technology course) EDTC 5153: Computer-based Instructional Development. I have six graduate students enrolled--none from the College of Education. I have two Chemistry master's candidates, two from TESL (one master's, one doctoral), and two master's candidates from International Studies. It will be nice to get some students from our program in these classes as well.

At any rate, the course focuses on desiging and creating web-based instruction. I initially designed the course to be your basic instructional design, website design and development class, and then I thought better of it. It seems to me that we're past that now. As I looked through my webhosting package from BlueHost, I noticed that I had access to about ten or so different CMS packages.

So I thought to myself (having just gone through the process of helping choose a new COURSE management system for OSU) that a more relevant class might be how to design the instruction and how to evaluate different CMS packages--because I have access, right?--and develop the instruction in a CMS. That seems more "real world." So I eagerly installed instances of the following:

So how's it going? Well, what does CMS stand for? Course Management System (as I was thinking) or Content Management System (as most of these are). I think the course is going well, and we're getting a lot of really practical experience. But it would have been nice if more had been COURSE management systems.