Theoretical Foundations of Educational Technology – Module 3 Reflection

My reflection for this module was inspired by a passage from the beginning of chapter three that really caught my eye and had the wheels in my head turning. The reason this passage stood out was because it created a connection between the theories being presented in this course and my concurrent work in the EDTECH 503 Instructional Design course. On the subject of situated cognition in comparison to traditional information processing views of cognition, it is stated that,” human knowledge and interaction cannot be divorced from the world.” This is because, “to do so is to study a disembodied intelligence, one that is artificial, unreal, and uncharacteristic of actual behavior.”   It took me a few minutes to really grasp the effects this premise could have on both designers and learners in the environment, but I was able to somewhat wrap my head around it by connecting it to my experience so far with instructional design.

How I related this notion of situated cognition to my current experience in instructional design is that it can be easy to put on blinders, or become too focused on single aspects of the design process, to the point that one can without knowing leave out pieces of the puzzle that are detrimental to maximizing learning potential. The theory of situated cognition recognizes that you can’t just focus on the person, place, or thing when designing instruction. You must take into account all aspects in and around the environment because they will affect each other in some way, regardless of whether or not you plan for them to do so.

As someone who doesn’t teach, this feeling comes from the experiences I have had so far in my very first instructional design course. Basic instructional design teaches you to conduct a learner assessment or evaluation prior to the further design of your instruction. The problem lies in that no matter how much research you perform, or surveys you conduct with your desired learners, the social and environmental factors that can arise and influence the process are largely unseen. These factors are not something you can easily plan for or design around. I think that when going through the design process, beginner instructional designers may often be unintentionally developing instruction in somewhat of a vacuum, designing largely under the assumption that the eventual environment where the learning takes place will be relatively static.

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