Although much of the literature on interactive multimedia continues to be an objectivist recipe on how to manipulate IMM software and present it in stipulated ways, research is increasingly focused on using IMM for enhanced learning outcomes. For this reason, Reeves' (1992) work is important. The pedagogic model of interactive learning systems offers instructional designers 14 pedagogic dimensions for consideration when developing IMM and other interactive learning systems (ILS). However, cultural contextuality is invisible, although it may be seen as subsumed within most dimensions. The paper argues that instructional design is about the formation of cultural identity, that it is socially and culturally constructed. Minority cultures add further dimensions to the paradigm. In terms of instructional design, consideration of cultural contextuality as a variable of consequence means that variability and flexibility will be obvious features of the IMM package in order to promote effective learning.
Research on interactive multimedia (IMM) is maturing. Increasingly the focus is on the theoretical and pedagogical dimensions of instructional design that directly mediate learning. Yet there is still a necessity to point out that IMM, with its features of colour, sound, animation, moving and still pictures, text, question-answer feedback, time (when these components are brought onto the screen through programmed or free learner control) and space (placement on the screen) which combine in a manner that provides students with multi-sensory pathways to knowing, does not produce learning per se. Learning requires thinking on the part of the learner. IMM programs, simulations and courseware are knowledge construction and facilitating tools that focus on the mediation of learning. Helping to drive this focus is Reeves' (1992) work on interactive learning systems (ILS). IMM is one of these systems. Reeves identifies 14 pedagogic dimensions of interactive learning, each of which. is represented on a continuum with a graduated range of values between the two extremes (Figure 1). Although the ILS dimensions do not provide an inventory of dos and don'ts, they do give a valuable framework for judging the pedagogic worth of the design of instructional materials. The pedagogic dimensions in ILS include epistemology, pedagogic philosophy and psychological theory goals, instructional sequencing, the role of errors and the teacher/instructor, learner control, and cooperative learning. Reeves makes us think holistically and specifically about our instructional design parameters, principles and practices.
Like all worthwhile pedagogic paradigms that push us away from the glitz to the substance of instructional design, the pedagogic model of instructional design of ILS (Figure 1) deserves critical examination. There are a few issues that warrant discussion.
Of concern is the identification of the right hand values of each dimension on the continuum as the most desirable for instructional design of ILS (Figure 1). This is despite discussion of the conflicting research concerning the right hand value of some dimensions, for instance, that of learner control (Reeves, 1992). Most of the right hand values of the pedagogic model of instructional design of ILS relate to constructivism suggesting that constructivism is universally compatible with each student's cognitive style, thereby taking little account of culturally different ways of learning. Designers have to be wary that they do not therefore impose all right hand values in the belief that an effective pedagogic model of instructional design of ILS cannot contain elements of the left hand values simultaneously with those located at the right of the continuum of other dimensions. Some sections of an IMM package could be instructionist in terms of pedagogic philosophy (Dimension 2, Figure 1) and firmly at the learning from errors end of the Value of errors dimension (Dimension 8, Figure 1), for instance. Indeed, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of teaching are instructionist but they are certainly not 'error proof, which Reeves defines in the ILS context as not permitting students to make errors. He cites the interactive videodisc, Principles of the Alphabet Learning System (PALS) (1986), as an example of errorless learning because only the keys that match an acceptable form of spelling the words that correspond to what the on screen characters are saying are enabled; the response to typing the wrong key is more refined directions (Reeves, 1992). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students learn from their experiences; it is often referred to as learning through trial and error (Harris, 1990; Osborne, 1982).
Figure 1: Pedagogical model of instructional design of ILS (Reeves, 1992)
However, when they demonstrate their knowledge they want it to be as free from errors as possible in order to prevent shame and ridicule from their peers and teachers (Henderson, 1993).
More problematic in the pedagogic model of instructional design of ILS is the general acceptance of the right hand values with little support from research that examines how students from various backgrounds actually use an ILS package to direct their learning, their preferences for how they wish to learn through ILS, and the cognitive and metacognitive mediating processes that they use when learning through ILS. Such research might find that accommodation of individual differences of, for want of a better description, mainstream children, could have the same instructional design implications as those catering for children from cultural minorities.
There is also the decision to plot each interactive dimension in ILS programs as static places on each continuum rather than acknowledging multiple points that move backwards and forwards along the continuum according to intended or unintended flexibility in design (for instance, certain programs illustrate 'generative capabilities nested within otherwise mathemagenic presentations of content' (Reeves, 1992, p.108)) and variability in learner usage (which is particularly significant with respect to the structure, learner control, and cooperative learning dimensions). This would help overcome the problem associated with the considerable overlap of dimensions which, Reeves points out, are not mutually exclusive. For instance, accommodation of individual differences (plotted on the continuum with the same label) may mean that various points on the learner control dimension other than the extreme right are important in catering for those differences during different segments of an ILS program (Henderson and Arger, 1993). Not to reflect the variability and thereby acknowledge the importance of flexibility in instructional design is to diminish the overall aim of the pedagogic model of instructional design: promotion of learning outcomes through effective pedagogic practices in ILS.
Reeves (1992) points out that the interactive learning dimensions delineated in Figure 1 are not comprehensive as there may be others that still need to be defined. Two significant dimensions have legitimacy to be included: cultural context and gender. Given the strength of feminist educational theory and pedagogic research, specifically that dealing with gender issues, computers, and information technology, gender has a valid claim to be an especial dimension in interactive learning. However, it is the task of a forthcoming paper to explore the implications of feminist theory, gender, and IMM instructional design. This paper is concerned with the relevance of cultural contextuality in IMM which is a major type of an interactive learning system.
The paper argues that cultural contextuality be an additional ILS dimension. However, cultural contextuality affects all dimensions and all points along the continuum of each dimension. The pedagogic model of interactive learning systems is therefore more logically represented as a field with the cultural contextuality dimension forming an axis to each existing dimension. Figure 2 depicts a collated overview of the fields of all the dimensions (whilst Figures 3 through 5 present the field for selected dimensions). The cultural contextuality dimension ranges from 'not incorporated' to 'actioned' (Figure 2). Whilst exploring what this means, the paper singles out certain existing dimensions - epistemology, pedagogic philosophy, instructional sequencing, and cooperative learning - for clarification of the implementation of the cultural contextuality dimension and, in so doing, returns to the issue of acknowledging flexibility and variability as a strength in the instructional design of IMM and other ILS.
Figure 2: The culturally contextualised pedagogic model of instructional design in IMM and other ILS
The argument that, if IMM and other ILS instructional designers accommodate individual differences (Dimension 11, Figure 1) in their instructional activities, they will necessarily incorporate cultural aspects is unjustifiable on two grounds.
Firstly, cultural contextuality is usually not seen as a factor in ILS instructional design decisions. Reeves (1992) discusses the wide range of individual differences in terms of psychological models of learning that treat individual differences among learners as the major predictors of differential learning outcomes. Ackerman, Sternberg, & Glaser (1989) include affective and physiological factors. If culture is considered, incorporation of different cultures is seen as problematic: it is financially inefficient to include multiple realities because whose culture do we include given the number of cultures in our multicultural societies? This relegates culture to a variable of insignificance in the learning paradigm and positions all users by constructing a world in which cultural minorities are invisible.
Secondly, the argument misses the point. Individual behaviours only make sense when shared in specific cultural contexts. For instance, questioning and justifying the validity of statements and analysis are endemic to academic discourse but are generally unacceptable in Torres Strait Islander current-traditional ways of learning and teaching. (The term, current-traditional, has been coined to emphasise the fact that cultural ways of learning are not static). Negative sanctions - what Torres Strait Islanders term ,growling', that is loud, angry scolding - are imposed on those who ask too many questions, particularly why questions. Thus, evaluation of Torres Strait Islander learners who are having difficulty with justification questions embedded in IMM courseware can be seen as remedial in one cultural context. In another context, it is understood that acceptance of the rationale for questioning, interrogating, and providing evidence based on objective research will need scaffolding support before enthusiasm for replication of cognitive activities appropriate to a particular socio-cultural learning environment occurs (Henderson, 1993 February). The cultural contextualisation dimension (Figure 2) ensures that the range of cultural contexts available for students to study within is widened beyond tokenistic gestures, for example, the inclusion of an Afro-American character and rap music in ILS simulation packages to signal multicultural inclusivity.
The cultural contextualisation dimension ranges from 'not incorporated' to 'actioned'. The latter could have been labelled 'considered', 'incorporated' or 'included'. The labels are not strong enough. They reflect the terminology used in the inclusive curriculum paradigm which is currently advocated as a curriculum which recognises the multicultural realities of societies, such as in Australia, the Americas, Europe, Israel, China, and the Philippines. The inclusive curriculum therefore includes the social, cultural, economic and historical perspectives and contributions of minorities to the nation But it can be easily subverted by inclusion of only soft multicultural elements which do little to challenge the status quo. Such elements include some of the minorities' traditions (how Greeks celebrate Easter is a common theme in Australian primary schools) and an avoidance of contentious contemporary issues of equity and justice (in Australia there is an implementation preference for focusing on traditional Aboriginal lifestyle rather than the more complex issues affecting Aboriginal - and mainstream - society such as land rights and racism). Indeed, culturally appropriate education has generally been implemented within a narrow framework because it adopts a reductionist approach that diminishes the issues to one of inclusion of various elements of the minorities' cultures, particularly aspects that do not structurally impinge on those of the dominant group. The inclusive curriculum sees this as rectifying educational injustices through a legitimate (but watered down) incorporation of cultural contextuality in a multicultural society.
'Actioned' suggests the directive for cultural contextualisation has been implemented so that the instructional design of the IMM or ILS package contains obvious, relevant, and culturally appropriate aspects in ways that promote effective mediating processes and learning outcomes.
Aboriginal epistemology incorporates the notion that all knowledge is owned but some knowledge is owned, private and non-negotiable whilst other knowledge is owned and negotiable. Thus, gaining knowledge is a privilege, not a right. For instance, the effects of colonisation and the twentieth century have resulted in the refusal by Aboriginal elders to pass knowledge (languages, ceremonies, religious practices, etc) to their young men and women whom the elders consider unworthy of becoming caretakers of that knowledge because of the youths' attitudes, behaviour and seeming 'whitealisation' (a term coined by the late Koiki Eddie Mabo whilst a student at James Cook University). Aboriginal people own knowledge and knowledge belongs to or 'owns' people without the 'owner' having to be personally responsible for the origin of that knowledge (West, 1993; referencing this information highlights the fact that, in Western epistemologies, the source has to acknowledged).
McDonald (1992) provides a clarifying example of the issue of ownership of knowledge or world view. Non-Aborigines and non-Torres Strait Islanders have been socialised in a tradition where artistic freedom privileges the artist's rights to take inspiration from anywhere. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists do not have the right to appropriate the traditional symbols and stories of another's country and totem without permission to share those traditions. Thus Aborigines who have been brought up in an urban environment may utilise dot or x-ray painting techniques, but the dots and lines are positioned and coloured to reflect or critique their reality. For example, Les Grigg's painting, Dreaming in the wrong place, depicts a platypus using stylised Aboriginal symbols juxtaposed in a landscape of freeways with 'wrong way' signs (Isaacs, 1989, p. 110). It critiques contemporary urban society whilst simultaneously affirming the artist's identity and right to use modified traditional techniques (x-ray design) and concepts (dreaming) to tell his, not another's, story.
There are some possible solutions that acknowledge different epistemologies and the reflection of this in instructional design of IMM and other ILS. One solution is to change the ILS dimension from epistemology to standpoint epistemology. However, the two extremes, objectivist and constructivist, probably do not accurately describe the range in various epistemologies (for instance, Aboriginal epistemology). The solution also suggests that standpoint epistemology is the only epistemological conceptualisation that accurately reflects the pluralistic nature of multiple epistemologies. Another, more appropriate solution is to see the epistemology dimension ranging from objectivist to constructivist with standpoint epistemology embedded as a subset of constructivist epistemology (Figure 3).
Figure 3: Epistemology - cultural contextualisation field
Based on the work of Harding (1986), standpoint epistemology grounds knowledge in a theory of subjugated activity and social experience. It privileges minorities epistemologically. At the same time, it challenges the potency of scientific methodology and norms that, since the Enlightenment, have valued rationalism and objectivism and ignored or denied the social construction of knowledge and scientific study.
Standpoint epistemology also questions the assumption that 'the social identity of the observer is irrelevant to the "goodness" of the research asserting that the racism and sexism of western knowledge is both highly visible and damaging;... that [scientific] norms themselves appear to be biased in so far as they have been incapable of detecting ethnocentrism and androcentrism' (McDonald, 1992, p.4). Standpoint epistemology also challenges the belief that knowledge and politics can be divorced. It is argued that emancipatory politics can increase the objectivity of research and knowledge (Connell, 1989; Harding, 1986).
Constructivist epistemology argues for a multiplicity of perspectives. Standpoint epistemology ensures that the politics inherent in theories about the nature of knowledge are important foci. In so doing, it brings into question the notion of perspective, particularly when applied to minorities. For example, inclusion of an Aboriginal perspective situates an Aboriginal world view within western knowledge and apportions it the value of merely a 'perspective'. Standpoint epistemology assigns the Aboriginal's (minority's) 'perspective' as epistemology. Thus, while constructivist and standpoint epistemologies recognise that knowledge is socially constructed, this is often ignored in discussion concerning the implementation of a constructivist approach to ILS instructional design (see Reeves, 1992 ). When it is acknowledged by instructional designers, the notion that the knowledge being examined is socially constructed is usually omitted from the ILS package; it is not included as one of the facets of knowledge from which students can construct their understanding of whatever it is they are exploring (see Pieters & de Bruijn, 1992). However, the view that knowledge is socially and culturally constructed is integral to standpoint epistemology. In the context of the epistemology-cultural contextuality field (Figure 3), standpoint epistemology takes us one step further in that it does not assume one epistemology as immutable but provides 'epistemological pluralism' in which multiple ways of constructing knowledge and understanding are valued (Harel & Papert, 1991), and prompts learners to interrogate those epistemologies in the construction of their own knowledge. Instructional design advocates of standpoint epistemology embedded in constructivist epistemology in ILS would challenge learners to consider: whose knowledge is privileged? How is this particular epistemology socially constructed and for what purposes? Do standpoint epistemologies provide greater emancipatory social and educational validity than merely a range of perspectives and theories? Do they present better intellectual interpretations of society, as Connell (1989) argues?
Figure 4: Pedagogical philosophy - cultural contextualisation field of IMM and other ILS
However, this is not sufficient. Cultural contextuality demands inclusion of other pedagogic philosophies, such as constructivism. Aborigines, Torres Strait Islanders, and other minorities in western mainstream society have little choice but to become bicultural if they are to succeed academically. Indeed, although there is tension between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander desires for western education to prevent continued disenfranchisement in a modem technological society and their resistance against such an education because it jeopardises their cultural knowledge and methodologies of teaching and learning, they nevertheless acknowledge that cultural appropriateness for empowerment and ownership includes both western and indigenous knowledge and ways and conventions of learning and doing (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Division, Department of Employment, Education and Training 1989; Torres Strait Islander Education Consultative Committee 1992).
This means that cultural contextualisation of pedagogic philosophy (and practice) take account of both the end philosophies on the continuum: instructivist and constructivist. Plotting IMM courseware, such as Australian Minorities Today in World Perspective (Minorities) (Henderson, 1993), within the field of pedagogic philosophy-cultural contextuality for Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal tertiary students show a number of points within both top quadrants: instructivist-cultural contextuality and constructivist-cultural contextuality (Figure 4). These plottings do not show a linear progression from instructivist to constructivist. As cultural contextuality is taken seriously. the IMM (or ILS) courseware favours the top left quadrant initially in order to begin where the students feel comfortable as learners. Subsequent units of work within the courseware, even within the first unit of study, are plotted within the constructivist-cultural contextuality quadrant in Figure 4. When particularly complex concepts and theories are presented in Minorities, the approach is again initially instructivist followed by a constructivist one. Heeding Delpit's (1992) warning, there is also explicit instruction in mainstream codes, registers, inductive strategies, and metacognitive skills in order to help ensure educational achievement. The 'Secret English' and 'highly valued' genres of academia are made accessible (Cope & Kalantzis, 1993). Although the instructionist pedagogical approach is periodically revisited for reinforcement of these functional literacy-study skills, it is replaced by a constructivist approach in which students use their acquired skills to construct their knowledge within an appropriate discourse. Even so, in keeping with constructivism, scaffolding or bootstrapping (Reeves, 1992), such as metacognitive prompts and metacognitive question answer feedback interactions, persists but is minimised. Research to date suggests that this approach is successful in its intent to flag to students that current-traditional pedagogies are legitimate and relevant in contemporary education and that they can also be used as places from which to branch into mastering academic genres and, perhaps, valuing other pedagogic philosophical approaches to learning (Henderson, 1993 February).
Such 'anchored instruction' is seen to be a facet of constructivist sequencing of ILS (Bransford, Sherwood, Hasselbring, Kinzer, & Williams, 1990).
Figure 5: Cooperative learning - cultural contextualisation field of IMM and other ILS
The research data was collected through culturally appropriate yarning type interviews, process tracing stimulated recall interviews, structured questionnaires, and anecdotal evidence from Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders who are studying to be teachers through the Remote Area Teacher Education Program (RATEP) at James Cook University. The students are enrolled in the same Diploma of Teaching as on campus students except that their study is off campus in remote communities through IMM computer courseware, text, video, teleconferencing, facsimile and on site tutoring.
Henderson & Arger (1993) and Henderson & Putt (1993) found that all but two of the 26 RATEP students prefer to work through IMM computer courseware independently in the first instance. The students emphasised the strengths of collaborating with others on the second or third revision of general interdisciplinary subjects, such as Minorities. The initial preference of the Torres Strait Islander students for independent rather than collaborative learning seems contrary to the literature yet it matches current-traditional teaching-learning practices in two major ways.
Firstly, reasons have to do with cultural learning methodology: control over pacing and revision, preventing shame and, what is ignored in the literature, monitoring one's progress and thinking. Typical comments were: 'You have control over your own pacing and can revise when you want'; 'It prevents shame, particularly if I get something wrong or if I am working with someone and I get everything correct and the other person doesn't'; 'I want to correct my own mistakes'; 'I want to do my own thinking'; 'I am able to concentrate more'. These self disclosures highlight aspects of current-traditional learning. Torres Strait Islanders and Aborigines have greater autonomy over their learning than do non-Aboriginal and non-Torres Strait Islander children and adults. For instance, Aborigines and Torres Strait Islander children have the right to decide when to practice (revise) and demonstrate their knowledge and abilities (such as cooking damper, dancing, or making a spear) and not on demand from the teacher. In conjunction with Minorities' IMM learner control and access features, working individually through the IMM courseware permits the replication of these current-traditional ways (Henderson & Arger, 1993). It also helps change the power relationships inherent in majority-minority education.
Factors of cultural learning methodology are also given for the initial preference for individual rather than collaborative learning through IMM. The 26 students claimed that working with one or more peers is initially "distracting" because "there are too many different opinions". One student explained, "[We] don't have the patience to listen to someone who doesn't know". In current-traditional learning the learner approaches the person who possesses the relevant knowledge and who will give precise information devoid of extraneous or doubtful content. In the generalist subjects, once they are confident that they each have some understanding of, and can contribute to, the issues interrogated in the IMM courseware, thereby avoiding shame, the students suggest that they can now cope with a multiplicity of views from fellow students who they no longer regard as neophytes, and seek cooperative input: "I then like the interaction of stretching my understanding with others".
Secondly, the preference for independent learning occurs in a social environment. The computers are located in the same room as the students' study carrels. If the computers were in a "withdrawal" room or partitioned off corner as is often the case in schools, the preference may well have been different. The provision for independent learning within a social context facilitates the people oriented focus of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders whose current-traditional learning style prefers accomplishing learning tasks in a group setting. The literature fails to point out that this is different from, but includes, cooperative learning. Designing effective student-machine interaction involves designing flexible systems that permit social interaction and organisation in location and usage.
IMM programs that have been instructionally designed only for cooperative learning may in fact thwart optimum learning outcomes where this conflicts with the cultural (and individual) learning preferences of the students. Effective cultural contextualisation of the instructional design of IMM allows students to negotiate their preference to work alone or with one or more peers to mediate learning. It permits a self selecting balance within the top quadrants of the cooperative-cultural contextualisation quadrants (Figure 5) of individual and collaborative work within a social context.
Flexibility in instructional design which caters for variability in usage is not to be avoided. Both are indications that cultural contextuality has been actioned in order to provide students with interactive learning packages that reflect the multiple realities of their society and their own experiences. Catering for user movement within and between quadrants in the ILS dimension fields is a sign of the relevance of instructional design to promote effective mediating processes and learning outcomes. Such instructional design practices in IMM and other ILS positions learners as active participants in the learning-teaching paradigm.
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|Author: Dr Lyn Henderson, Lecturer in Instructional Design of Multimedia, School of Education, James Cook University of North Queensland, Townsville Qld 4811. Tel: (077) 814 355 Fax: (077)815 120. Email: email@example.com
Please cite as: Henderson, L. (1994). Reeves' pedagogic model of interactive learning systems and cultural contextuality. In C. McBeath and R. Atkinson (Eds), Proceedings of the Second International Interactive Multimedia Symposium, 189-198. Perth, Western Australia, 23-28 January. Promaco Conventions. http://www.aset.org.au/confs/iims/1994/hj/henderson.html