Melding Topics

When I met with an admissions advisor about my plans to study Instructional Technology, I knew the program would be available as a masters program, but what should I study to obtain the bachelor's degree? Fortunately, Sal suggested Psychology as a good foundation. (He had friends who worked as Instructional Designers.)

Once again, the work I'm asked to do this semester draws heavily on that background, just as the previous two semesters had covered behaviorism, cognitive theory and research methods. The web-only class is currently going through the history of Instructional Systems Design (ISD), and it draws heavily from the lessons from last year. I find it funny that I encoded those lessons well and am recalling them when I'm reading about how we process and store information in long-term memory.

One little piece of history cracked me up, though. The Ford Foundation, in the 50's and 60's, provided heavy funding for schools to have televisions in classrooms, and supplied them for several entire school districts, one of which stopped me short: Washington County, Maryland.

In 1992, I took courses from the local junior college. Fundamental Concepts of Arithmetic was one of the classes, and it met at North High in Hagerstown, as well as at Hancock Middle/Senior High School 30 miles to the west. The two schools used a closed circuit system to display a live video feed of the professor, and some weeks, he was in Hagerstown, others in Hancock. I worked in Hagerstown, but lived 3 miles west of the school in Hancock, so I also ended up in either locale.

It was also broadcast on the local cable company's community channel for students who couldn't make it to class (I lived too far out of town to have cable, so this was not an option). The funny thing was when one of my coworkers told me that she and her husband had watched me on TV the previous night, asking questions about algebraic notation. (I said I get three channels, she get over 100, and she watched MY class instead of something good?)

It's strange that almost twenty years later, I'm reading about the initiatives taken in the 60's that put the television system in place for my class to use in the 90's.

Just another case of "It's a small world."


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