Designing Instructional Technology in an International Development Context: I believe, the success designing IT in an International Development Context is based on the felt need and the leadership of the instructional settings

“The Case of the Developing World” by Jan Visser provide a sense of role and responsibility of an instructional designer in the international development context, in particular the developing countries situations. The key question the author is addressing here is – How does an instructional designer respond in the tremendous diversity in the instructional settings? In order to address this question the author is giving the information and ideas on different topics such as situation sketch, one world or many worlds, reinvention rather than transfer and appropriating technologies for appropriate use (Reiser and Dempesy, 2007, p.236-238). The main point of view presented in this article is, to encourage instructional designers to design in an international development context. However, I believe, the success of an instructional design is based on the felt need and the leadership within the instructional settings. There are three reasons I believe that the claim the author is making is not completely sound.

Situation Sketch

Firstly, the author did not properly address the institutional setting in the developing world. For example, in developing countries particularly in India, adults are not interested in learning except in the urban areas and those who work in industries. Moreover, 60% of Indian population lives in the rural areas, their main occupation being agriculture. Majority is illiterate and they do not see a felt need to learn more (The World Fact Book, 2009). But here in the US, I see middle-aged people in my class who have a felt need for higher studies. Unlike this, no one would ever go back to school once they have got into any kind of employment. Also, rural communities in developing countries are lacking role models in the leadership. Those who are educated go to the urban areas seeking more opportunities. Here again the question is – whether we should eradicate illiteracy among adults or provide the learning opportunities for the young. In order to address this issue, Instructional designers have to develop different models for adults and youngsters because the game based instruction would be interested by the young people and more applicable to children. But the adults learning interest and techniques will be different. Designing different models for children and adults will create economic burden in developing countries. In page 236, the author mentions that, mere building and teachers do not solve the problem of 100 million students who do not go to school in the developing world (Reiser and Dempesy, 2007, p.236). However, I believe the presence of a school in a rural village has a significant impact in that community and will motivate the children to go and parents to send their kids to school rather than having a school far away irrespective of poor quality of learning.

One world or Many World

Secondly, the author omits the positive side of emulating the models after the post colonial era. According to the author, many developing countries have taken the approach called “worked fairly well”. But this approach worked only in urban areas but not for rural masses. However I think, the basic skeleton of all models are same. Many instructional design models are based on the basic model – ADDIE. Therefore, emulating one model from other country would reduce the overall cost of the project, such as analysis, design and develop cost. For instance, India is still following different British systems which become the foundation of the Indian education and other sectors of the country. This basic foundation would help the developing countries to build upon and reduce the planning and developing cost. This method of emulating the model would help the society if the objective is to provide basic education and not to provide sophisticated learning environment such as simulation based learning. I do agree the role of an instructional designer in a diversified world, designing the conditions of learning with the diversity in mind (Reiser and Dempesy, 2007, p.237). The practice of educational pattern from the industrialized world would help the developing world at least to improve their worst situation such as poverty and illiteracy. I think the cluster development would also help the developing countries to implement a success model in one particular part of the country, instead of implementing the project in a whole country. If it is successful then they can introduce that into other districts or states as well.

Reinvention Rather than Transfer

Finally, the author assumes that the reinvention would be cost effective. However, the idea of reinvention in design may not be economical in all developing countries. For example, the reinvented design is a variation of customization. As we know the customized products and services are always costly than the standard product and services. However, I do agree the author’s idea about “the technology must be reinvented in the context in which it will be used – reinvention rather than transfer” (Reiser and Dempesy, 2007, p.237). The concept of micro teaching is good to evaluate the teacher behavior (Bok Center, 2006). In a controlled environment some teachers can perform well but some teachers may not – such as in front of a video feed back environment, especially teachers from the developing countries. They may not perform well in front of their colleagues or in video. But can perform well in the genuine class room environment.

In conclusion, an instructional designer has to have in mind the instructional settings and the diversity in the developing countries. At the same time, I believe the success of a project is based on the felt need of the community or the society and a visionary leader to guide that project. Instructional models in developed countries can be applied in the developing countries if they have a felt need and good leadership. For example, the success of the IT @ school project is the enthusiasm of the project leader Dr.Anvar Sadath and the felt need of the Kerala Education sector. The blind adaption of any model is not good in developing and underdeveloped countries, but must be accompanied by adjusting to the existing situation.


Bok Center. (2006). What is micro teaching? Retrieved May, 2009, from

Reiser, R., & Dempsey, J. (Eds.). (2007). Trends and issues in instructional design and technology (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ, USA: Prentice Hall.

The World Fact Book. (2009). India. Retrieved May 12, 2009, from

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