Online Instruction – Paradigm Shift

Paradigm Shift

In today’s education environment, a fully structured instructional design analysis for online classes can take too long. However, without some form of structure in the process, the results obtained would be practically useless. The new paradigm could possibly be the answer to some of the issues of the old paradigm, especially if it can remain flexible enough to meet diverse needs of instructional development.

ADDIE Method

The ADDIE method seems to be at issue. However, the method, or something very similar is necessary. Without analysis, we would be like the programmer who sat down and coded a program before knowing what it needed to do. Analysis directly drives the design. Without both analysis and design, development and implementation would be mired in controversy and disagreements. Evaluation would not be likely, since the project would probably never reach completion.

Common Features

There are basically four main principles or common features of instructional design. The design:

  • is primarily design oriented
  • must identify which methods of instruction should be used and when they should not be used
  • can be broken down into elemental components
  • is prescriptive rather than deterministic.

Goal Oriented Design

The design oriented character of instructional design simply means it is goal oriented. Prescriptive in nature, instructional design theories are guides for practitioners concerning what methods to use to attain different goals. This direct guidance gives instructors and trainers information concerning when to use which methods in their teaching. By breaking down instruction into components, instructors and trainers are able to utilize appropriate learning objects to teach each section or component of the instruction. Since these theories are prescriptive rather than deterministic, instructional design cannot be guaranteed to work. We can only say that if used in such and such way, this should work. Learning-focused instructional design is customized, not standardized. This is the challenge of the new paradigm of instructional design.

Paradigm Shift Required

According to Reigeluth (1999), theories of Instruction Design must have a paradigm shift to meet the changing needs of education and training in today’s changing world. To this end, education of the future is more learner-centered, with learners being encouraged to become self-teachers and life-long learners. As instructors and instructional designers, our goals should be to encourage our students to be thinkers and problem solvers and, as the U.S. Army puts it, “Be all that you can be!”


Reigeluth, C. M. (1999). Instructional-design theories and models, volume II. A new paradigm of instructional theory. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers. Mahwah, New Jersey.

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