Early development of Instructional Psychology and Technology (IP&T) focused primarily on the use of emerging technologies. In the early 20th century the field of Education developed new media to be used for teaching and learning. These included “school museums” that eventually grew into modern media centers which housed “visual education” materials. After WWI the field began to formalize with the formation of the predecessor to AECT (Association for Education Communications and Technology), the body that continues to lead the field today. WWII contributed to the growth of IP&T as training films and other audio/visual materials were mobilized to more efficiently train soldiers and civilians for their new responsibilities. Post WWII psychologists with war training experience began to view instruction as a system that they could analyze and evaluate as a result of the extremely fast and successful instruction that they had accomplished during the ward. Also during this time, as television gained popularity there was a greater interest in using TV as a means of instruction. The Federal Communications Commission set aside over 200 channels for educational purposes.
While this earlier period was focused on new technology the late 1950s onward were a time of increased interest in instructional methods and designs. The Programmed Instruction Movement sought to provide learners personalized experiences through many small steps and questions answered with immediate feedback that could be gone through at a learner’s own pace. In 1957, the year Sputnik was launched, inspired by the Space Race against the USSR, the US government spent millions of dollars on math and science instruction created by experts in the field without the help of instructional designers that was not particularly effective. This provided evidence that knowledge of subject matter was not enough to provide effective instruction. The 1960s brought criterion tests that measured learners against a standard instead of other learners as well as the foundational work of Robert Gagne and his nine instructional events which outlined several ingredients for successful instruction. In the 1970s a greater number of instructional design models were developed as an interest in instructional design was sparked in other sectors like business and defense.
The most recent period in the development of Instructional Psychology and Technology has seen a melding of both new technologies and new instructional design methods. With the advent of the Internet in the 1980s professionals became interested in using personal computers as well as cognitive psychology to inform instructional design. In the 1990s Constructivism pushed for authentic experiences and the Human Performance Movement focused on how learners were able to deliver in employment situations instead of on classroom learning. Now IP&T aims to combine the best research both in instructional design and psychology to utilize existing and emerging technology to create optimal learning experiences.
My primary focus is in Blended Learning: the thoughtful combination of traditional face-to-face learning experiences and technology mediated experiences to create a better learning environment than either can be alone. Blended Learning can happen at all levels of interaction and with students of all ages especially as younger children are exposed to technology and more careers require a proficiency in emerging technologies. Blended Learning is useful for continuing and enhancing an in-class unit through an out-of-class discussion board, to replace some class meetings all together with computer mediated assignments, or even to make a higher education program more efficient and accessible for adult learners by requiring some face-to-face and some online classes.
Blended Learning allows educators and designers to utilize the best strategies in their optimal environments. It allows students to work at their own pace and makes a more efficient use of the limited time that an instructor has with his/or her students. Lectures or other types of “information dump” can be accomplished online, while collaborative projects and group discussions can be carried out in class. Blended Learning allows for the efficiency and personalization of online learning to be joined with the interaction of personal relationships that are best forged between in person.
Closely related to Blended Learning is the emerging sector of Open Educational Resources (OER). Practitioners of OER work to create, encourage, and utilize open sourced learning materials that can be used in a variety of situations. This is of particular interest to me because one of my areas of concern is closing the achievement gap between students in different demographics. I think that with a combination of strong learning materials produced and made available through OER and superior instruction delivered through Blended Learning a quality education can be delivered more efficiently to a greater number of learner than is currently reached. IP&T facilitates a combination of pertinent ideas, practices, and tools to create consistently improving instruction and outcomes for teachers and learners.
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