Progress report on ISD Model Development, II

Posted on Mar 15, 2010

Here is an updated status on the development of my ISD model, as of March 4, 2010.

Context: Distance Learning in higher education

Generalizability: Intended to be used in any learning environment where there is an online intervention between instruction and learner output.

Intended Audience: Instructional designers and curriculum developers who create programs intended for online use in certification based, purposeful education.


Pre-Theoretical influences:

Charles Dills, Alexander Romiszowski, “The Instructional Development Paradigm: An Introduction”

  • The Instruction Development (ID) worldview: technology as a function to provide human capacity with expanded repertoire of abilities.
  • ID is a psychological and cultural extension of human abilities.
  • Extensions are unconscious, and naturally occurring.
  • They modify our perceptions of the world (information).
  • As “extended” persons, we are cyborgs.

Maxim: Human inquiry within this system is thus filtered through extensions of our senses.

Marshall McLuhan, “Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man”

  • Technology integration into society has a systemic effect, in psychological thought patterns.
  • Communication media impose “background context” to information that imparts a connotation to information independent of content.

Maxim: Information is not an immutable form, and can be perceived differently depending on the medium of communication.

Anthony Wilden: “System and Structure – Essays in Communication and Exchange”

  • In context, all forms of communication employ both analog and digital forms of communication.
  • Analog communication describes relationships and connotation.
  • Digital communication describes organization using discrete abstract coded information, the alphabet, numeric measurements, or demarcation of social boundaries.

Maxim: Information is a unit that requires comprehending relationships through the use of coded information systems, e.g. numbers, space, language, etc.

Psychology Theory influences:

Media Psychology: MP study proposes that media can be for use as personal or mass communication, and that media is generally used as an entertainment and pleasure-seeking tool. Only by understanding how and why mass media influence our lives can we better cope with them, and only by coping with them can we change them so that they serve us rather than control us.

Uncertainty Reduction Theory: URT, posited by Charles Berger and Richard

Calabrese (1975) examines many aspects of interpersonal communication. The basic premise of URT is that people seek to reduce uncertainty as quickly as possible to determine their desire for further interaction, and that uncertainty reduces the desire to communicate.

Maxim: Socially constructed online communication tools embody their own syntaxes, rules, protocol, expectations, and language. These tools are “immigrants” when employed in learning environments. Thus, they may cause “noise” or disorientation in learners when placed between instructor and learner within the ID paradigm.


Given the inexorable integration of online media into the higher education learning environment, what system can Instructional Designers use to develop instruction that will retain its integrity across the transactional distance?

Example: Using a blog for a class discussion: Are there design and interface variables that interfere with user output?

  • In terms of output, what is a Comment? Discussion? Post? Reflection?
  • How does the space offered to the learner for output shape the learner’s interpretation of an appropriate response?
  • How does the “dialect” of social media behavior affect the depth of learning?

If there is a “dialectical gap” between social media behavior and online learning behavior, has instructional development made accommodations to compensate for this?

Are student perceptions of having “learned” in an online environment functioning on equal evaluative terms with traditional methods?

Does this call into question the notion that a learner has actually learned?

This model affects:


  • Determination of student Digital Literacy via assessment instrument
  • Grouping of learners according to levels of Digital Literacy



  • Analysis of appropriate redundancy of messaging and messaging strategies to reduce learner disorientation and uncertainty.
  • Analysis of media strategy to offer multiple channels for students to ingest information.


  • Dissemination strategies, choices of social media applications.
  • Design of online presentation to align with output expectations.


  • Use in formative evaluation for improving course delivery.
  • Use in summative evaluation in comparison to other distance learning programs.
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