Instruction-Design Befriending Constructivism

The relationship between instructional design and constructivists theorists is not one of the friendliest. Sparks fly when arguments break up. So, when I started reading Instructional-Design Theories and Models I expected to find a discourse totally immersed in the traditional instruction based teaching. But this wasn’t the case. Although the main philosophy of teacher driven learning is still there, the tone is very conciliatory, recognising the need of adopting a learner driven approach to learning which is at the heart of constructivist learning theory.

In the Instructional-Design Theories and Models vol.2 a few ID theories are downright constructivist. What a departure from the past. Reigeluth is quite blunt in his characterisation of the education methods from the industrial era: “you couldn’t afford to – and didn’t want to – educate the common labourers too much, or they wouldn’t be content to do boring, repetitive tasks, no to do what they were told to do without questions. So our current paradigm of training and education was never designed for learning; it was designed for sorting”. The whole educational system was based on specific instructions that controlled the learning process.

The reason for this change is simple. There is so much information out there; the technology has had such an impact on everything in society, including the classroom, that the school system cannot possibly create a specific instruction method for each of newly created situations. Besides, one of the highest skills in demand is ability to think independently and solve problems. This requires a teaching method that has to empower the learner to have a say in the learning process.

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