Could you describe how you got into
the field of instructional technology?
I first found out about the field around 1975 or so, when I was teachingphilosophy
as an adjunct faculty member at Southern Illinois University atEdwardsville.
I was preparing to go to doctoral school in philosophy atPurdue, when
it occurred to me that I would prefer a field that had more potential
for gainful employment (I didn't want to be a Ph.D. selling shoes orforever
teaching Philosophy 100 in West Okefenokee Junior College!). ITappealed
to me because it combined, theory, technology and practice.
How would you describe your research
My research agenda is a bit eclectic, but all of it focuses upon the
process(not product-hardware) end of instructional technology. I continue
to work ondeveloping alternative instructional design techniques (environment
alanalysis) and models (layers of necessity). In addition, my current
interest has shifted to taxonomies of learning. Dave Jonassen and I
have been working on a new one that emphasizes more structural learning
and self-management outcomes. Rita Richey and I also are working at
developing the idea of contextual analysis.
What are a few books or papers you have
written that you believe are especially well done or interesting?
Me? My stuff? Oh, gosh, I don't know. I think the formative evaluation
book is my most helpful book, I designed it so someone could learn how
to plan and execute formative evaluations by reading through it. My
environment alanalysis book was the most original, even thought a lot
of people think they already did this kind of analysis, because it systematized
the process and tools for analyzing instructional contexts. The Layers
of Necessity model has gotten the most notoriety, in part because it
legitimized (and clarified) what many designers have been doing for
What are some books by other people
that you found very provocative or informative?
Gagne & Briggs' Principles of Instructional Design , 1979,
was the work that most influenced my interest in instructional design.
Roberta Klatzky's HumanMemory was very informative on human learning
processes. John Zeisel'sInquiry by Design helped clarify my ideas
on alternative design approaches,and Robert Sternberg's Wisdom is
a refreshing perspective on an oft-overlooked concept. Also, Spinoza's
On the Improvement of the Understanding reinforced my belief
that it is better to teach a few ideasvery clearly than cover a lot
of ideas in a more circumspect fashion.
What practical work experience do you
have in the IT field? What has been the relationship between work experience
Well, I worked at Caterpillar Tractor as a training manager for a short
span of time, then spent five years as an instructional designcon sultant
to other faculty at Richland Community College in Illinois. Then I worked
as an independent design consultant while finishing my doctoral degree
at Florida State. After that I spend six years at the University ofColorado
at Denver as a design consultant to faculty and a graduate faculty member
in IT. How has my work influenced my research? I figured I have worked
on about 130-140 design projects in my time, both large and small. In
doing those projects, it came to me that the major cause of failure
on so many ofthe projects was that the instructional context had not
been sufficiently considered in planning the project. Hence my work
in environmentalanalysis. Also, because I had to work on a number projects
at once, with limited time and resources, I had to adapt the amount
and kind of ID Icould do on every one of them. Hence the Layers of Necessity
model that John Wedman and I sketched out.
Who are two or three people who have
had the most important impact on yourcareer?
Robert Gagne, who spent many hours with me in independent study courses
ondesign theory and strategy. My friend Dave Jonassen, who is such an
intellectual explorer. It has been rewarding to watch how they think
andknow what they think.
Could you describe one research project
that you found particularly interesting or worthwhile?
The surveys and interviews I have done on designers' practice has been
the most interesting, there are so many ways that they do instructional
design. I think the work I am currently doing on mental models will
have the greatest payoff in recommendations on how to teach and test
for this increasingly important learning outcome.
What do you see as the future of IT?
The process of instructional design will change. There will be moreconcurrent
design (analysis, production and evaluation combined) with users as
part of the design group, with design scenarios and alternate prototypes
as the vehicles that facilitate group design. The development of groupware
will change the design process as well, we are entering an age of "instructional
design over space and time." Design groups will meet over the Internet
and area network. The group will also input decisions about objectives,
strategies, etc. at different times of the day. In short, the design
communication and decision making process will change, because groupware/Internet
changes will facilitate more of a "hyper-design" environment.
What advice do you have for IT researchers
who are just beginning in the field?
Concentrate on the process of
design and instruction, don't have your efforts seduced by hardware
and software. Make sure you think first aboutthe intangibles (the strategy,
outcome, or research hypothesis) and thenstart thinking about some media
vehicle to teach it. I wonder if our research process isn't being dumbed
down by choosing a media format (Iwanna do multimedia/distance ed) as
a research questions, not a learning problem or design process.