The significance of the instructional medium : a phenomenological analysis and interpretation
Adamsick, Christopher T.
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Media-related research represents an historical antecedent to research and development in the field of instructional technology. Taking the form of descriptions, definitions, metaphors and theories, conceptualizations of instructional media are plentiful. Even so, commonly held perspectives in the field cast doubt on (a) the relationship between media and instruction, education, and learning, as well as (b) the instructional medium's role in instructional technology research and development. It is a hypothesis that serves to undermine the legitimacy of instructional technology and the foundations upon which it was built. Based upon a conceptual framework involving (a) the great media debate of instructional technology, (b) contemporary conceptualizations of instructional media and (c) phenomenology as both a school of thought and methodology, four research questions of increasing importance are asked. What is the significance of instructional media? To what extent can we take an account of a phenomenon through the evidence of human experience? What are the implications in juxtaposing instructional media's particular characteristics upon contemporary conceptualizations of instructional media? What are the implications in juxtaposing the essential characteristics of instructional media upon the great media debate of instructional technology? Based upon the narrative data obtained from in-depth interviews with ten K-12 educators, a descriptive theory of the phenomenon is constructed. As such, the instructional medium is defined as an expression of a particular learning intent. Furthermore, the act of expressing and the act of instructing are intuited as invariants, invariants without which the instructional medium would be entirely inconceivable. Importantly, both acts allow an educator to guide or direct a learner towards things that are meaningful or filled with purpose. It is a theory that contradicts traditional thought in the field of instructional technology. Based on a further hermeneutical interpretation of the evidence, this research affirms the instructional medium as an agent of change in learning. As such, both media and method influence learning. But, they do so in different ways. Rather than methods or strategies being the sole proprietor of change in a learner's behavioral, cognitive or affective structures, it is the medium introduced, along with a particular method, that also causes change.