EDD 8008‎ > ‎

Discussion chapter 1

For this discussion, please read the following:

Spector, chapter 1: "Historical Foundations," by Molenda; Saettler, chapter 2: “Early Forerunners: Before 1900”; and chapter 3: “Beginnings of a Science and Technology of Instruction.”

Then, address the following:

1. As you read Saettler’s review of educational approaches, from the Sophists in the fifth century B.C., to Pestalozzi in the late 18th century, to Dewey in the early 20th century, which elements did you identify as being present in your own education? Which of them were/are effective, and which of them were/are best abandoned? Why? Please be sure to address your experiences at multiple stages of your educational career--including grad school.


I went to a boarding school where the primary focus was preparing students for life by offering instruction for physical body, emotions, intellect and spirit (we had ten minutes of quiet thought every monrning).  The founder was a quirky thin fellow named John Corlette and some of his students maintain a website  www.JohnCorlette.com to promote his educational philosophy (he never wrote a formal explaination of his method but gave a six page speech explaining some aspects of his philosophy).  His method was close to Comenius, since Corlette believed: 

the goal of education is, or should be, the development of the spiritual man, that is of that part of each one of us which, with development and training, is capable of a vision or direct apprehension of the purpose of life, of the true nature of ourselves, of the world in which we live and of such other worlds or states of being as may exist besides.

Yes, many students went on to university, so the school prepared students for academic pursuits, but the key was building the "whole man."

The chart on page 38 showing how fractions were taught with sticks and tiles is how I learned math in elementary school... until a teacher imposed a more standardized worksheet method. 

"A graduated series of textbooks" and "sequence is important" are two features of the Instructional method (page 30) that shaped my math learning -- and it was effective but boring (so I now declare it ineffective).  I grew to dislike math, particularly when we had to do Geometry, worried more about pencil color than the beauty of what we could find in the theorems.

Chapter 3:  Science of Instruction

In 3rd and 4th grades, I recall a rainbow reader called "SRA" that encouraged us to progress through layers indicated by colors.  We kids knew that it was good to get up to red, the most difficult level, 

My elementary school teachers had plenty of exercises that involved exploring and self-motivated choices -- if they weren't Montessori, at least the spirit was there.   

Math exercises were via drill and I recall my dad complaining about the rote method of learning numbers.


When I was in sixth grade, my parents homeschooled  me for a year while we lived in another city (my father was a business consultant).  

During the homeschooled year, I recall doing some math exercises that the school wanted me to complete.  As mentioned above, the exercises involved learning rules and applying them in a rote fashion, removing any of the potential fun of discovering patterns in math (that I later discovered when I was hired to teach remedial math in high school in 2002 at Hallandale Adult Community Center).

Dewey:  The description of the five steps of "reflection" was similar to some of the hands-on learning that I did in high school in a variety of science courses that required us to use tools to test some of the concepts described in textbooks.  Sometimes, instead of reading the textbook, I would start with the instructional tools and by experimenting with circuits, I could detected variations between series and parallel setups of batteries, and I then learned to figure out the rudimentary elements after reading about Ohm's law.


The discussion of the Piaget approach to instructional design (espeically the chart on page 73) shows what I discovered when I was asked to teach a class in Remedial Math.  I went to a store called ACE (for educational tools) and bought items that helped show patterns, particularly for fractions.   I was assigned students who failed the HSCT, a precursor of the FCAT), which was taken in 9th grade -- and my students were 11th and 12th graders.   I let the students explore with the educational tools and they soon figured out that bigger numbers could equal smaller numbers, such as 5/10 = 2/4.  "I'm very angry with you, Mr. McCrea." One of the students berated me.  "If you had been my math teacher in 8th grade, I wouldn't even be here at this adult re-do school.   You shouldn't be here.  You should be teaching things right in middle school."

What was I doing?  Just letting kids discover the patterns for themselves, using increasingly complex challenges -- we created the largest multiplication table in Florida using the gym floor and re-taped the gym using a tape measure, I asked some students to create raps to explain rules like the circumference (Mike Ferguson's rap was eventually posted on a webpage).  We called it "Visual and Physical Math" and I later called it VisualAndActive.com.   To paraphrase the book, as the students figured out one stage, the environment got more complicated and their thinking became "more complex." 

2. In his brief chapter, Molenda does a pretty good job of tracing the history of the field of instructional technology and describing its scope. Briefly discuss two things that you found especially interesting in this chapter.

While these questions do ask you to offer reflections and express an opinion, your answers should reflect (and refer to) points made in the assigned readings--and in any additional resources you judge germane to this discussion.


a) the "first principles of instruction" by David Merrill

- activation of prior experience

- demonstration of skills

- application of skills

- integrate the skills in the real world.

This is an interesting structure to place over the eight global skills (advocated by Tony Wagner of Harvard)



Critical thinking

Creativity and imagination

Initiative and entrepreneuring

Accessing and analyzing information

Agility and adaptability

Cordiality, courtesy and civility (the 8th skill, not mentioned by Wagner, described by Yuzenas)  

Each of these skills can be explored and improved using the four steps mentioned by Merrill.

"Learning about computers, not learning with computers"

The observation on page 16 about the minimal use of computers in classrooms was something I observed in several public school classrooms where I taught.  Something happened with the widespread use of laptops and wifi that made 2009 the time when I could see laptops in use while I was conducting classes.  That was the big turning point, along with the presence of facebook (I remember asking some ESOL kids, since I was teaching English, to swtich their language in Facebook to English so I could assign them some reading in the program).

As for effectiveness, virtually everything I have mentioned (except the droning method of teaching a foreign language and multiplication tables) ought to be continued.   Effectiveness should include the adjective "enjoyable or at least sociable."  


Wagner, T.  (2008).   The global achievement gap.  Basic Books.

Yuzenas, D. (September 7, 2011).  Conversation about the seven global skills.



On the other hand, I enjoyed reading your post. Your post has illustrated a strong insightful able to understand and showing that I fully understand of boarding school (grades 11 and 12) where the primary focus was preparing students for life by offering instruction for physical body, emotions, intellect and spirit. By speaking about the issues with others such as math exercises, visual and physical math. In the ninth grade, I was introduced to the Environmental Science Club and to Mr. Lazaro, my science teacher and advisor. Outside of the classroom and through the club, I saw an entirely different side to education.

Nice Job!

Rosnel L Joseph


Yes, Rosnel.  you get the idea.   I want to make sure the teachers of the future take time to get to know students outside the classroom.   that is why Littky uses one teacher for 15 students.   It is a good ratio and the teacher spends more than academic time with the kids.



Dear Steve,

   I remember those old SRA reading boxes, too! I bet they were super expensive in their day.  I hadn’t thought about them until I read your post. I am 47, so some folks might not have experienced those color-coded boxes like we did. LOL!

It is really interesting that you went from disliking Math to loving it and teaching it. My gifted third grade students HATE memorizing their Math multiplication facts. They would rather figure out the answer by adding patterns quickly in their heads, using the nines trick on their hands, or anything but memorize. They eventually have to force themselves to learn their facts or it takes them too long to multiply fractions, etc. Since they are so smart, though, figuring the answers out is much more appealing to them than being efficient. Do you have any advice I can offer their parents who say the children don’t like to memorize? (By the way, they are ten and also have not memorized their address, phone number, or spelling rules for any language.)

Thanks for sharing your success story!



I wish there could be more understanding of Piaget.   Jean Piaget thought that numbers are hard for kids.   What is 57?   It's "a lot".    or 47 or 69?
I wish students would think about PARENTS and GRANDPARENTS.
2 x 2 x 2 x 3
what combinations can we make?
8 x 3
4 x 6
2 x 12
2 x 4 x 3
3 x 2 x 4    
OH, that is the same, just different order!
LEARNING BY DOING is so important.    NOT by memorizing.   
It is only now when I'm walking around in the super market, I can estimate...
I think kids should find FRIENDS.
67 is not an easy number but ....   67/100 is about 2/3   (yes, that's for later, but we can do fun things with numbers)
67/670 = 1/10   wow~!
Call me Patricia at a time convenient to you.  I'm out of work -- hiring freeze at the new palce, so I'm available the next 8 weeks.   Please ... instead of typing that question, call me.  I MUCH prefer talking.   I prefer TALKING  (hate typing)
I have some more suggestions about math, but I don't want to type right now.


Look at this testimony:

They never added value to the learning environment—I don’t remember paying much attention to them.


Question 1:


Saettler, P. (2004). The evolution of American educational technology. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing, Inc.


Every aspect of my personal educational journey (grades 6-12, especially) has been influenced by the Sophists: Lecture and group discussion/ putting “exemplary models of writing and speaking” (Saettler, 2004, p. 25) into practice has been the primary mode of delivering and receiving instruction. While it may have been a beneficial method of learning and teaching for me, I have discovered it does not lend itself well to students who prefer to learn visually or kinetically. When I became a third grade classroom teacher, for instance, this became apparent. The individual student was more important than the whole of the class. If students were to learn, learning activities that appealed to a variety of learning styles needed to be implemented. I’d say I subscribed to more of a Lancasterian methodology grouping students “according to ability” and then using a little “ingenuity” to deliver instruction. Instead of spreading sand on the desk to practice writing, we used shaving cream. Instead of slates to practice spelling, we used mini-whiteboards (p. 35). To some degree, without actually realizing it, there were times when I embraced the Montessori Method, moving away from “group instruction” (p. 62) and allowing students to explore/ direct their own learning through the use of learning centers. Certainly, students were reinforced for exhibiting what I wished them to do (learn, behave)—a completely Skinnerian thing to do.


Burke’2 s System of Individualized Instruction (p. 64) reminded me of the old Career Development Courses (CDCs) I was required to take while active duty Air Force. The CDCs were a series of “ self-instructional and self-corrective practice materials” (p. 65)—s tudy guides/workbooks—airmen had to “pass” before moving on to the next level of expertise. Similar to what Saettler described, a simple record-keeping system noted the progress of the student and the appropriate learning/testing materials were dispensed at the suitable time in his or her career. I suspect the paper-based system is now completely online.


Question 2:


Molenda, M. (2008). Historical foundations. In J. M. Spector, M. D. Merrill, J. van Merrienboer, & M. P. Driscoll (Eds.), Handbook of educational communications and technology (3rd ed.) (pp. 3-20). New York, NY: Routledge.


What fun to walk through the history of educational technology! I could easily relate to much of it. I had to giggle as I read Molenda’s description of the “visual instruction movement” (pp. 6-7) and “ audio-visual instruction” (p. 9). The author states, “…the educational value of [history films] lay not only in the quality of the materials but also in how well teachers used them” (p. 7). I remember watching black and white films in history class. They were very monotonous, the room was very dark, I was very full from lunch, and, therefore, very sleepy. I either dozed, or wrote notes to my friends. My teacher, meanwhile, was off doing whatever, while his or her “helper” was taking down names of those talking during the film. It seemed the films were meant to reiterate what the teacher had previously lectured in class, but really, students found them just to be a nice break from the teacher (and vice versa) (many times we knew we were going to watch a movie that day because the teacher was absent and a substitute was taking over). They never added value to the learning environment—I don’t remember paying much attention to them.


It was exciting being a part of “school adoption of computers” (Molenda, 2008, p. 16). A senior in high school in 1984, I was exposed to my first Apple computer in our brand new computer lab. My English teacher brought us to the computer lab once a week for an entire class period so we could type up our written assignments. We used a program called “Apple Writer” to cut and paste—edit—our work. Sometimes we went to the lab just for “learning time,” which meant we could manipulate a variety of educational software. My favorite was “Oregon Trail,” an interactive history game.



another Laurie post:

  Laurie, you hit on something with your post about the opinions on ITDE facebook...  I got a bit annoyed with having to visit Black board daily, but that was before we had a simulation using WIMBA.   wow, that is cumbersome.   so visiting the blackboard is fun to see who has commented on our posts.

the annoying thing in discussion boards is when there is "praise" given and very little is added to the discussion.  it's just keystroking.   
I can't wait until we can get speech to text really working so we don't have to slow down to type.   Have you every tried DragonSpeaking, the voice to text software?

Hi Daniel,

Online business degree students at Saint Joseph's College of Maine regularly use  the Socratic Method when engaging in weekly discussions. The degree program is cohort-based; therefore, students and instructor are deeply involved in the asynchronous weekly topics. The instructors are extremely engaged in dialogue with students and moderate/facilitate fruitful conversations/learning. Generally, on end-of-course evaluations, students have glowing things to say about the interactions in the online discussion boards because they feel so connected to the instructor, their classmates, and the subject matter. The method really mimics brick and mortar learning. On the other hand, the other degree programs at SJC are self-paced and instructors complain discussion boards are too unweildy to manange--and therefore do not. Students often complain about the lack of interaction in them. In my humble opinion, there is not a ton of learning going on. It is a debate that rages...

I was surprised to be accepted into the ITDE group on Facebook and see students sharing their distaste for discussion boards. I wonder if they would enjoy them more if there was more socratic dialogue--instructor included. :/

Surely you were exposed to the Scholastic Instructional Method in High School--and maybe in traditional college courses. Remember the debates from History class? The instructor presented the material and then divided students into teams, who had to research their opposite side and present their arguement? This is the best example I could come up with. Perhaps our classmates might think of one or two more?

I enjoyed your post! It made me look up the latter method, as I was not exactly sure I had encountered it either. There was a simple explanation on New World Encyclopedia: http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Scholasticism

Have a great day! ~Laurie