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Are the Basics of Instructional Design Changing?

Are the Basics of Instructional Design Changing?: “…human thought amounts to patterns of interactions in neural networks. More precisely, patterns of input phenomena – such as sensory perceptions – cause or create patterns of connections between neurons in the brain. These connections are associative – that is, connections between two neurons form when the two neurons are active at the same time, and weaken when they are inactive or active at different times…What online learning does is not merely to communicate information but to create such a network. Prior to the advent of online learning, all such networks were local – they were, even in instances of distance learning, physically constrained. But with online learning comes not only a much wider, more diverse network, but also the idea that (a) the network may be based on non-physical (or emergent) properties, (b) that the individual may choose to belong to or not belong to a network, and (c) that an individual may assume multiple identities or memberships in multiple networks.”
Comment: Sometimes, just asking a question is indicative of a significant change in climate. Inquiring about the changing nature of instructional design indicates a core dissatisfaction with instructional design (and indirectly, existing views of learning). I’ve stated previously that in a network model, when one node expands or increases it’s value/skill/efficacy, the entire network is altered (even if only slightly). If we view the entire domain of learning (from society’s needs to learner to designer to administrator) as a network, when one element changes, the others are impacted. In today’s environment we are seeing significant changes in the needs of society and the learner (rapid information development, globalization, increased competition, etc.). The alteration of these two nodes requires that other nodes react appropriately in order to remain a part of the network.
I strongly recommend Stephen’s article as an excellent entry point into the debate of what it means to learn, and how this impacts our design of learning. Stephen explores the critical concept of causal systems of education in relation to network phenomenon. I believe that much of the future of learning and education will be battled out on these fault lines. It’s strongly reminiscent of the ongoing debate of centralization vs. decentralization and hierarchy vs. connections.
Overall, a tremendous, thought-provoking read – a direct assault on much of how we have organized education and learning in today’s organization.
Sebastien Fiedler offers a thoughtful reaction to Stephen’s article, providing additional discussion through several links at the end of his post.