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If You Build IT They Will Come

ComputerThere are many thoughts regarding technology and innovation in Instructional Design.

The advice that is most often given isĀ  Don’t Use Technology for Technology’s Sake.

What this means is that an Instructional Designer should not build instruction around the tool, but the tool should have a meaningful impact on the learning objectives. A tool should only be used if it will aid in the instruction and not hinder it. Technology will hinder instruction if 1) An instructor or learner does not know how to effectively use it and as a result, spends too much of instructional time trying to learn the tool, not the content and/or 2) The technology is so cool it’s a distraction.

In both cases the learner may lose out on the true purpose of the instruction because the focus is on the technology.

An Instructional Designer, therefore, must design the instruction with first, the learning objectives in mind, then design the instruction for the mode of communication (aka technology), whether it be Face-to-Face Instructor Led, eLearning, Mobile Learning, or self-paced study.classroom

However, let’s play devil’s advocate. What if we have an instructor that is so fearful (or afraid of looking incompetent) of technology that it dis-services its learners. An instructor that does not use technology to aid an instruction may be promoting an image of stagnation and as a result may drive away potential learners that were seeking “state of the art” education. Applying my business background here, it’s as simple as putting the right product with the right person at the right place. If the learners want technology-supported instruction, what’s stopping them from pursuing their goals at a competing institution that is giving them their needs?

As an Instructional Designer, is it best to force the technology, that is, build it into a classroom and instruction in the mere hope that the instructor will follow? Showing what technology can actually do in the real-life instructional environment may encourage the use of that technology. Or at least more so than a verbal description of the technology. In this way, showing how the technology can be applied to the instruction is a great way to stimulate the use. And the only way to show the technology is to have it.

And hence, taking from A Field of Dreams, If you build IT (Informational Technology), they will come. I hope.

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