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Instructional Design in an International Setting

LDI President Jan Visser was the Online Guest for one week (November 1-8, 2001) to guide students of Dr. John V. Dempsey's graduate course on "Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Development" at the University of Southern Alabama through a unit on "Instructional Design in an International Setting."

Two introductory questions were set to spark off the dialogue:

  1. Hawkridge (1) makes frequent use of the term "distance learning." I may have used the term myself occasionally as well in past writings. I often avoid the term now because I find it a troublesome term. Do you recognize why the term "distance learning" could be troublesome? If so, what makes it troublesome?
  2. In "Factors that Foster..." I deliberately use a definition of learning that is broader than the ones that most people employ when they design instruction. I do so because I argue that it is important to look at "learning by being instructed" as just one among multiple dimensions of the enormously complex phenomenon of human learning. Part of the reason why I think that "learning by being instructed" is an insufficient contribution to the kind of human development we require has to do with the immensely complicated problems we have to deal with at a global level. (BTW, you find a similar view expressed in a contribution by Gavriel Salomon - received today, Oct 31 - to the discussion on "Learning after September 11, 2001: A collaborative reflection" available on this site.) So, here's a question: What are some of the most pressing problems the world is facing? A related question is: If instruction alone is not sufficient to prepare people to deal with such problems, what is it in the instructional process we can attend to that will help to at least make a contribution to better prepare human beings for the world in which they live?

Following the week of fruitful and enjoyable online interactions, Visser was asked to write a guest article on "Designing in a melting pot" for the December 2001 issue of The Link, the newsletter of the Online Learning Laboratory of the University of South Alabama.

(1) Hawkridge, D. (2002). Distance learning and instructional design in international settings. In R. A. Reiser and J. V. Dempsey (Eds.), Trends and issues in instructional design and technology. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall.