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Learning from Programmed Instruction: Examining Implications for Modern Instructional Technology

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Educational Technology Research and Development Volume 53, Number 2, ISSN 1042-1629


This article reports a theoretical examination of several parallels between contemporary instructional technology (as manifest in one of its most current manifestations, online learning) and one of its direct predecessors, programmed instruction. We place particular focus on the underlying assumptions of the two movements. Our analysis suggests that four assumptions that contributed to the historical demise of programmed instruction--(a) ontological determinism, (b) materialism, (c) social efficiency, and (d) technological determinism--also underlie contemporary instructional technology theory and practice and threaten its long-term viability as an educational resource. Based on this examination, we offer several recommendations for practicing instructional technologists and make a call for innovative assumptions and theories not widely visible in the field of instructional technology.


McDonald, J.K., Yanchar, S.C. & Osguthorpe, R.T. (2005). Learning from Programmed Instruction: Examining Implications for Modern Instructional Technology. Educational Technology Research and Development, 53(2), 84-98. Retrieved May 26, 2019 from .

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