An Analysis of Instructional Design and Technology Departments

  • Richard E. WestEmail author
  • Rebecca A. Thomas
  • Robert Bodily
  • Casey Wright
  • Jered Borup
Part of the Educational Media and Technology Yearbook book series (EMTY, volume 41)


Many, if not most scholars, argue their fields are evolving rapidly to stay relevant in the twenty-first century. For example, the discipline of humanities is experiencing a dramatic increase in digital programs (Kirschenbaum, 2012), mathematics teaching has shifted to making the math relevant by emphasizing statistics and computational thinking (The National Academies, 2010; Sengupta, Kinnebrew, Basu, Biswas, & Clark, 2013), and art now emphasizes digital art, photography, film, and animation (Black & Browning, 2011). Similarly, the field of instructional design and technology (IDT) has experienced vital evolution during the past 30 years since the high point of Gagne, systems design, and computer-assisted learning. During this time, we have seen the rise of the learning sciences, the expansion of IDT into many other fields, and the explosion of the Internet and online learning. This evolution has also brought unique challenges to the field. Wilson (in Merrill & Wilson, 2006) stated, “In the midst of ongoing change, it can be difficult to gauge where we are now and where we are headed as a professional community” (p. 341).



The authors gratefully acknowledge the contribution of Dr. Brenda Bannan, who provided helpful feedback on a draft of this paper and on the methodologies used in this study.


  1. Bichelmeyer, B. A. (2004). The ADDIE model—a metaphor for the lack of clarity in the field of IDT. Paper presented at the meeting of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology IDT Futures Group, Chicago, IL. Retrieved from
  2. Black, J., & Browning, K. (2011). Creativity in digital art education teaching practices. Art Education, 64(5), 19–24.Google Scholar
  3. Bozkaya, M., Erdem Aydin, I., & Genc Kumtepe, E. (2012). Research trends and issues in educational technology: A content analysis of TOJET (2008-2011). The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 11(2), 264–277.Google Scholar
  4. Carr-Chellman, A. A. (2006). Where do educational technologists really publish? An examination of successful emerging scholars’ publication outlets. British Journal of Educational Technology, 37, 5–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Driscoll, M. P. (2004). Psychology of learning for instruction (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Pearson.Google Scholar
  6. Drysdale, J. S., Graham, C. R., Spring, K. J., & Halverson, L. R. (2013). An analysis of research trends in dissertations and theses studying blended learning. The Internet and Higher Education, 17, 90–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ely, D. (1990). Conditions that facilitate the implementation of educational technology innovations. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 23(2), 298–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gall, J. E., Ku, H.-Y., Gurney, K., Tseng, H.-W., Yeh, H.-T., & Chen, Q. (2008). Citations of ETR&D and related journals, 1990-2004. Educational Technology Research and Development, 58, 343–351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Halverson, L. R., Graham, C. R., Spring, K. J., Drysdale, J. S., & Henrie, C. R. (2014). A thematic analysis of the most highly cited scholarship in the first decade of blended learning research. The Internet and Higher Education, 20, 20–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hokanson, B., Miller, C., & Hooper, S. (2008). Role-based design: A contemporary perspective for innovation in instructional design. TechTrends, 52(6), 36–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hsu, Y.-C., Ho, H. N. J., Tsai, C.-C., Hwang, G.-J., Chu, H.-C., Wang, C., & Chen, N.-S. (2012). Research trends in technology-based learning from 2000 to 2009: A content analysis of publications in selected journals. Educational Technology & Society, 15(2), 354–370.Google Scholar
  12. Kirschenbaum, M. (2012). What is digital humanities, and what’s it doing in English departments? In M. K. Gold (Ed.), Debates in the digital humanities. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  13. Ku, H.-Y. (2009). Twenty years of productivity in ETR&D by institutions and authors. Educational Technology Research and Development, 57(6), 801–805. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ku, H.-Y., Plantz-Masters, S., Hosler, K., Diteeyont, W., Akarasriworn, C., & Lin, T.-Y. (2011). An analysis of educational technology-related doctoral programs in the United States. In M. Orey, S. A. Jones, & R. M. Branch (Eds.), Educational media and technology yearbook (Vol. 36, pp. 99–112). New York, NY: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kucuk, S., Aydemir, M., Yildirim, G., Arpacik, O., & Goktas, Y. (2013). Educational technology research trends in Turkey from 1990 to 2011. Computers & Education, 68, 42–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lee, Y., Driscoll, M. P., & Nelson, D. W. (2007). Trends in research: A content analysis of major journals. In M. G. Moore (Ed.), Handbook of distance education (pp. 31–41). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Earlbaum.Google Scholar
  17. Lowenthal, P. R. (2012). Which conferences do you attend? A look at the conference attendance of educational technology professionals. Educational Technology, 52(6), 57–61.Google Scholar
  18. Lowenthal, P., & Wilson, B. G. (2009). Labels DO matter! A critique of AECT’s redefinition of the field. TechTrends, 54(1), 38–46. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Martin, S., Diaz, G., Sancristobal, E., Gil, R., Castro, M., & Peire, J. (2011). New technology trends in education: Seven years of forecasts and convergence. Computers & Education, 57(3), 1893–1906.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Masood, M. (2004). A ten-year analysis: Trends in traditional educational technology literature. Malaysian Online Journal of Instructional Technology, 1(2), 73–91.Google Scholar
  21. Merrill, M. D., & Wilson, B. (2006). The future of instructional design (point/counterpoint). In R. A. Rieser & J. V. Dempsey (Eds.), Trends and issues in instructional design and technology. Prentice Hall: Upper Saddle River, NJ.Google Scholar
  22. Neto, J. D. D. O., & Santos, E. M. D. (2010). Analysis of the methods and research topics in a sample of the Brazilian distance education publications, 1992 to 2007. American Journal of Distance Education, 24(3), 119–134. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Orey, M., & Branch, R. M. (2015). Preface. In M. Orey & R. M. Branch (Eds.), Educational media and technology yearbook (Vol. 39, pp. v–xiii). New York, NY: Springer International. Google Scholar
  24. Orey, M., Jones, S. A., & Branch, R. M. (2010). Preface. In M. Orey, S. A. Jones, & R. M. Branch (Eds.), Educational media and technology yearbook (Vol. 35, 35th ed., pp. v–xiv). New York, NY: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Orey, M., Jones, S. A., & Branch, R. M. (2015). Educational media and technology yearbook (Vol. 39). New York, NY: Springer International.Google Scholar
  26. Ozcinar, Z. (2009). The topic of instructional design in research journals: A citation analysis for the years 1980-2008. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 25(4), 559–580.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Persichitte, K. A. (2007). Implications for academic programs. In A. Januszewski & M. Molenda (Eds.), Educational technology: A definition of the field (pp. 327–338). New York, NY: Lawrence Earlbaum.Google Scholar
  28. Reigeluth, C. M., & Carr-Chellman, A. A. (2009). Instructional-design theories and models: Building a common knowledge base (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  29. Reiser, R. A. (2012). What field did you say you were in? In R. A. Reiser & J. V. Dempsey (Eds.), Trends and issues in instructional design and technology. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar
  30. Rieber, L. (1998). The proper way to become an instructional technologist. Retrieved from
  31. Ritzhaupt, A. D., Sessums, C. D., & Johnson, M. C. (2012). Where should educational technologists publish their research? An examination of peer-reviewed journals within the field of educational technology and factors influencing publication choice. Educational Technology, 52(6), 47.Google Scholar
  32. Ritzhaupt, A. D., Stewart, M., Smith, P., & Barron, A. E. (2010). An investigation of distance education in North American literature using co-word analysis. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 11(1), 37–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Sengupta, P., Kinnebrew, J. S., Basu, S., Biswas, G., & Clark, D. (2013). Integrating computational thinking with K-12 science education using agent-based computation: A theoretical framework. Education and Information Technologies, 18, 351–380. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Spector, M. (2015). The changing nature of educational technology programs. Educational Technology, 55(2), 19–25.Google Scholar
  35. Spector, M., Merrill, M. D., Elen, J., & Bishop, M. J. (2014). Handbook of research on educational communications and technology (4th ed.). New York, NY: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Spring, K. J. & Graham, C. R. (2015). Blended learning citation patterns and publication and research networks across seven worldwide regions. Unpublished manuscript submitted for publication.Google Scholar
  37. Tessmer, M. (1990). Environment analysis: A neglected stage of instructional design. Educational Technology Research and Development, 38(1), 55–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. The National Academies. (2010). Report of a workshop on the scope and nature of computational thinking. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. Retrieved from Google Scholar
  39. USU ITLS Faculty. (2009). An identity shift at Utah State University: What’s in a name? Educational Technology, 49(4), 38–41.Google Scholar
  40. West, R. E. (2011). About this article and new series. Educational Technology, 51(4), 60.Google Scholar
  41. West, R. E., & Borup, J. (2014). An analysis of a decade of research in 10 instructional design and technology journals. British Journal of Educational Technology, 45(4), 545–556.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Zawacki-Richter, O., Bäcker, E. M., & Vogt, S. (2009). Review of distance education research (2000 to 2008): Analysis of research areas, methods, and authorship patterns. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 10(6), 21–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard E. West
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rebecca A. Thomas
    • 1
  • Robert Bodily
    • 1
  • Casey Wright
    • 2
  • Jered Borup
    • 3
  1. 1.IPT DepartmentBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA
  2. 2.West Virginia UniversityMorgantownUSA
  3. 3.George Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA

Personalised recommendations