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Instructional Message Design: Past, Present, and Future Relevance

  • M. J. Bishop
Chapter

Abstract

Instructional message design explores how various media and delivery systems might be used more effectively to help optimize instructional communications within context-specific instructional situations and learner needs. But use of the term appears to have fallen out of favor over the years since the mid-1990s. A review of the historical and theoretical foundations of instructional message design reveals that, while instructional design generally has shifted from objectivist to more constructivist perspectives on learning theory, the instructional message design field remains firmly rooted in early “transmission oriented” communications models. It appears that instructional message design has also suffered from definitional problems as well, with more recent narrow views of the field focused on media attributes supplanting earlier broad views of the field as an applied “linking science” between theory and practice. And, finally, while findings from studies on media attributes provide designers with some guidance for generally what will not work in terms of cognitive processing, the guidelines seldom shed light on what one should actually do within a particular learning context. It appears that reestablishing instructional message design as a valid area of inquiry within the field of instructional design will require catching up with recent philosophical shifts in communication theory while adjusting our definitions and research foci accordingly. The chapter concludes with recommendations for a revised guiding theoretical framework based on conversation theory, a broader definitional focus that looks at more than just optimizing cognitive processing, and a new systems view of our approach to research in this area.

Keywords

Instructional message design Instructional communications system Message Systems philosophy 

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Teaching, Learning, and Technology ProgramCollege of Education, Lehigh UniversityBethlehemUSA

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