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Keeping Technology Courses Current While Minimizing Disruption To The Instructional Design

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Reaching Students: Innovations to Curriculum in ET

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.825.1 - 13.825.8



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Paper Authors

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C. Richard Helps Brigham Young University

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Mark Patterson University of Dayton

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Keeping Technology Courses Current While Minimizing Disruption to the Instructional Design


Technology changes rapidly which compels educators to rethink and redesign their courses. With Technology faculty being committed to experiential learning this implies the need for frequent redesign of technology courses, typically on a one to three year time scale. This paper discusses an integrated approach to instructional course design that provides the ability to adapt to changing technologies and incorporate current research into the curriculum. Learning can be improved and redesign costs minimized if there is a clear understanding of the relationship of the technical content to the overall instructional design. The instructional design presented here is conceived in terms of interacting layers analogous to Stewart Brand's architectural layers. Updating courses then becomes a process of changing the technical content layer while leaving most of the teaching material, organizational structure and learning objectives unaffected. This paradigm not only reduces the costs of updating courses but provides for a better collaborative student learning environment. Some aspects of this paradigm utilize reusable learning objects (RLO), student knowledge acquisition, and increased student participation to improve the learning and relevant instruction. In addition it provides faculty with more time to pursue other academic goals. This approach is discussed in the context of updating and re-designing technology courses at two campuses.


Technology instruction should be based upon principles of educational interactions (teaching and learning) to change the student into a better learner, a competent technologist, and a life-long learner.

Learning in Technology emphasizes experiential learning. This has roots in constructionist and constructivist learning theories among others. This leads to a need to constantly re-design experiential learning experiences (labs and projects) to incorporate current technology to provide authentic experiences. The obstacles to achieving this in high-tech fields include the time and cost of constant re-design. In order to reduce the financial cost of redesign, faculty members sometime spend a lot of time seeking discounts and donors. In addition time and effort is expended negotiating with the administration for support for more new lab equipment. All of this leaves less time for teaching and research. Once the equipment is purchased courses and lab experiences are re-designed to incorporate the new technology. The technical turnover in technology classes is substantial. In electronics there is a continual drift towards more capable systems as they become cheaper, especially for digital systems driven by Moore’s Law1, 2. If we do not use the latest technology is our classes, we are not serving our students (or our own scholarship) well. However, technology faculty share the common, painful experience of redesigning classes created by others or themselves based on a now-outdated textbook or lab equipment. The fact that academia generally doesn’t recognize lab re-design or course re-design as scholarship for tenure and promotion exacerbates the problem. Thus there is a need for instructional design that at least addresses these problems. There are several possible approaches

Helps, C. R., & Patterson, M. (2008, June), Keeping Technology Courses Current While Minimizing Disruption To The Instructional Design Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3396

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