Liveblogging Stephen Downes on PLEs at Brandon Hall
Web 2.0 for Learning Professionals--First Module is Up

Liveblogging Instructional Design for the Semantic Web

Presentation was by Reuben Tozman President of EdCetra Training. He started with Father Guido Sarducci's 5-Minute University, based on what people remember 5 years after they graduate from college.

Response to this is Personalized, Just-in-Time, Performance Support Training.

Visual Thesaurus as an example of what's possible with semantic web. Build scenarios that are not based on yes/no answers, but bringing answers to people of what they need to have in that moment. Use of tagging allows information that is more and more relevant to the path you're taking. The learning happens at the time you're making the decision. People should be able to pull the information that's relevant for the factors that they're dealing with.

Semantic Web (Web 3.0)--"technologies for enabling machines to make more sense of the Web, with the result of making the Web more useful for humans. (Ed Dumbill, 2000). Right now we're doing this work. It's entirely controlled by us. With the semantic web, you are part of the Web and the Web is an application that brings stuff to you because it's semantically marked up.

Tom Crawford--"If by instructional design we mean somebody designing a classroom or e-learning session, then if it's not dead already it's certainly breathing pretty hard."

Why must ISD evolve?

  • Enable the "pull" paradigm
  • Go beyond creating one-off instructional materials--look at performance support
  • Accommodate new paradigms of learning (ex. user-generated content)
  • "Feed the web"--have to find ways to get information out there for free for it to be valuable.

The only way for Web 3.0 to work, you have to be transparent, open to the web. It depends on context. What happens when you make yourself available to the Web?

Refers to Kevin Kelly's TED Talk on Predicting the next 5000 days of the web (go to 12:54 in the video).

"The first thing you have to understand about the future of the web is that nothing's impossible."

How do we evolve ISD to be consistent with this new paradigm? What role will IDs play in semantically defining content for the web? How do you mark up the content in the cloud so that people can continue to learn? 

The value of ISD is the ability to systematically break down content so that it's applicable to learners and their learning styles. This is what's unique about instructional designers.

Will need to develop a system for classifying, organizing, "marking up" learning content.

Evolving ISD

  • Define, classify learning types and events
  • Create common meta language to provide semantic meaning to various forms of learning
  • Able to view content using whatever display device can read the language
  • As new tools develop, enable them to read the language.


  • OASIS-DITA for Learning--open source XML standard that allows you to create technical documentation so that it can be re-purposed and re-used. Can be downloaded from SourceForge and can author content, publish to a SCORM format. Then move to mobile application, etc.

Need structure of a language, standards to then create a pathway for creativity to ensure that content is available to people so that it can be seen in a consistent, productive way.

(My thoughts--interesting session, although it seemed like people either weren't totally getting it or they weren't engaged by the idea. An IT person in the group noted that most of the IDs she works with are not into the tech part and that this seems to require a real change in how elearning is designed.

For me, interesting challenge to some of my thinking about us being facilitators of a learning process, rather than designing specific learning experiences. Still felt like there was a lot of ID control and a sense that people need someone to figure things out for them. Is that always true? Seems like we need to be helping people become better learners for themselves. Or maybe they go together? Questions. . . )


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Hi Michele,

Under "Why must ISD evolve," the following two points are made: 1) Enable the "pull" paradigm, and 2) Go beyond creating one-off [of?] instructional materials--look at performance support.

I learned ISD back in the eighties as a designer/instructor for the military (we taught heavy equipment to the Air Force, Army, and Marines). And even back then, we were taught to only use formal methods if the knowledge and skills could not be transferred using some other method, such as a Job Performance Aid (would include EPSS), Self-Teaching Package, or OJT. These are normally "Pull Paradigms" and "Performance Support" methods.

Thus this ideal that instructional design only means designing for classrooms or elearning is totally off the mark. In fact, with ISD, formal instruction should be the last option considered because it normally cost more than other methods and you always have to consider learning decay rates because of the time lag between the classroom and when the performers will actually use their newly acquired skills and knowledge. In addition, this goes all the way back to the original ISD model developed by Florida State University in 1995 as the last step in the Analysis Phase is to select the instructional method, such as JPA, STP, OJT, or a formal setting.

Also, one of the points listed is: "Feed the web"--have to find ways to get information out there for free for it to be valuable. Does this mean that if the information is NOT out there for free, then it is not valuable? Perhaps it should have been written as: "For Web 2.0 to be valuable, then information has to be free."

Hey Donald,

I never intended to equate instructional design with creating only formal training materials, let alone the 'ideal' of instructional design.

Enabling the "pull" paradigm refers to the more recent trend of self directed learners using web based resources to construct their own learning paths and environments. Libraries have been around for much longer and the "pull" paradigm has always been available just not a very widely adopted or accepted method for teaching or training. The same can also be said of "performance support". Yes...performance support has always been around but it has typically been pushed out to use when needed. The "new" performance support is intelligent and will only deliver support at the time in which you need it.

The notion of "feed the web" certainly does not imply that if you don't give something away for free then its not valuable. That would be preposterous. But who would have ever believed 30 years ago that I could build a company by giving away my software for free? There was absolutely no economic model at the time to support that thought. Yet some of the most successful software companies built their business by doing just that. Is it all encompassing? Certainly not.

I'm also interested to know why you don't consider any models for designing instruction prior to 1995 ISD models? BF Skinner was working with a behaviorist ISD model in the 50's. The ADDIE model which is perhaps THE ISD model was published in 1978. Would love to know why the 1995 Stanford model is the first one for you.

Hope I was able to clarify some things.


Hi Michele,

Thanks for the clarification. I think I became lost when you used the quote by Tom Crawford that if ID means designing a formal learning/training session, then it's already dead. While the term "pull" might be new, the concept has certainly been promoted since the mid-seventies, in fact, we are even warned to consider such methods before venturing into a more formal type learning programs because of the resources and difficulty involved in classroom type learning.

As far as considering other models, I certainly do; however, the point I was trying to make was that the "pull" concept has been part of ISD since at least 1975.

When presented with the term "ISD", I think the 1995 Florida State University is the model that most designers think of as that is the basis of ADDIE, even though they might not even know it is the original source.

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