Critical factors to instructional design

The World Wide Web provides unprecedented access to learning institutions, as learners are no longer inhibited by geographic boundaries (“Culture, cognition and instructional design for the world wide web: An Australian inquiry,” 1998). Technological advancements present political, social, economic, and instructional challenges (Potter, 1990) that designers must address.

“A variety of social factors affect the development, implementation, and spread of technology” (Surry & Farquhar, 1996). Common categories of social factors impacting the adoption of new instructional strategies include: 1) educational need, 2) user characteristics, 3) content characteristics, 4) technology considerations, and 5) organizational capacity (Surry & Farquhar, 1996). These social factors which affect adoption and utilization of instructional strategies should be considered as strongly as the effectiveness of the strategy (Surry & Farquhar, 1996). The time and resources expended toward developmental efforts may be in vain if the social conditions prevent the adoption of a given instructional innovation.

“Instructional design for Web-based learning systems cannot, and does not, exist outside of a consideration of cultural influences” (“Culture, cognition and instructional design for the world wide web: An Australian inquiry,” 1998). These cultural affects parallel the social considerations previously mentioned but can be more specific in nature. A society can contain a multitude of varying cultural norms and mores which undoubtedly influence perceptions and should be considered within the scope of the instructional design.

I agree that cultural, economic, social, and political factors do undoubtedly affect the design and implementation of instructional strategies. The challenge for designers is to identify the factors specific to their application context and to determine what accommodations can be made to ensure accessible instruction.

References

Culture, cognition and instructional design for the world wide web: An Australian inquiry. (1998) Retrieved April 2, 2004 from, http://node.on.ca/networking/july1998/feature2.html

Potter, G. (1990). Computer-related media portability in international distance education: Making informed decisions. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 23(2), 284-298.

Surry, D. W., & Farquhar, J. D. (1996). Incorporating social factors into instructional design theory. In M. Bailey & M. Jones (Eds.), Work, Education, and Technology. DeKalb, IL: LEPS Press.

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