In an earlier era of instructional technology, researchers proposed a set of criteria to help practitioners understand what assumptions about their work could help them develop well-designed instruction, as well as what assumptions could lead them to develop rigid instruction that did not characterize the goals they had for their practice. They named these criteria Technology I, II, and III. Technology I presupposed that using physical hardware improved instruction. Technology II presupposed that using formulas or strategies improved instruction. Technology III was the belief that good instruction could consist of many different product or process technologies, but that technology use alone did not define good instruction. Rather, good instruction was the realization of improved systems in which learning could take place. I used a historical case study method to analyze the major themes of Technology I, II, and III, as well as reasons why some practitioners might limit themselves to only Technology I or II. My purpose was to discover how to help instructional technologists better accomplish more of the goals they want to achieve. I compared the original goals of two instructional technologies (programmed instruction and problem-based learning), along with twelve case study reports of actual practice of these technologies, against the criteria for Technology I, II, and III. I found that Technology I, II, and III can describe the goals and practices of instructional technologists. Additionally, I discovered four reasons why instructional technologists may limit themselves to Technology I or II, and therefore might not achieve all the important goals for their practice: (a) distracted focus (or compromised integrity); (b) status quo adherence; (c) solidification; and (d) deliberately chosen Technology I or II. I also discovered three methods to help instructional technologists to avoid limiting themselves and more consistently practice Technology III: (a) legitimate evaluation; (b) adopting guiding principles for practice; and (c) using opinion leaders to disseminate the value of Technology III. This study also provides recommendations to help instructional technologists use Technology III to help them better develop flexible instructional technology that better characterizes their goals for their practice.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Instructional Psychology and Technology



Date Submitted


Document Type





instructional technology, instructional design, reflective practice, programmed instruction, problem-based learning, foundational assumptions, critical thinking