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Instructional Projects and "Quirks of Human Nature"  

2010-05-20 09:04:50|  分类: 教育 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Today I was asked to help validate a survey for the The International Board of Standards for Training, Performance and Instruction (ibstpi) to evaluate which competencies are most important for instructional design professionals, and this made me think what works and does not work when an instructional intervention is being introduced to an organization. An interview I conducted with Dr. Alexander Romiszowski two years ago came to mind. Interestingly, Romiszowski did not talk much about the instructional designer competencies or processes, but instead stated that many projects failed due to "quirks of human nature”, such as:

  • the “not-invented-here syndrome” :
    a person will argue against any suggestion or innovation, apparently on sound technical grounds, but really because they did not think of it first;
  • the “keeping-up-with-the-neighbors” syndrome:
    a person will argue for a specific technological innovation or solution just because a competitor institution has already got it, or because it is the current fashion – “everybody has an educational portal, so must we”;
  • the “grind-the-bastards-down syndrome”:
    a person will follow a decision path for no other reason except that it annoys or inconveniences other people or departments in the organization, for some reason unconnected to the current project;
  • the “baby-and-bathwater syndrome”:
    first described by the US educator John Dewey in the 1920’s as particularly prevalent in educational institutions – the tendency for a new manager, when faced with some aspect of the organization that is imperfect, to opt for a total reorganization which results in throwing out many good things together with the bad – solving one problem and on the way creating several new ones.

These are the words of wisdom from someone who has worked in Argentina, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Chile, East Timor, Egypt, France, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Korea, Mozambique, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Thailand, UK, USA, and Venezuela for international and national agencies such as British Council, DfID, EU, UNDP, UNESCO, USAID, WHO, and World Bank.

In a culture where professionalism is highly esteemed, we sometimes we lose sight of the undercurrents of human weakness, while focusing too much on the rules that govern whatever professional silos we find ourselves in. I am no exception to this, and that's why I wrote these down to warn myself.

As a matter of fact, these quirks work everywhere. When I tried to talk about Christianity to folks back home in China, one constant feedback I got is: "Why would anyone believe in a foreign religion?" "Why not something homegrown?" Then and there, I see the “not-invented-here syndrome” unfolding right in front of my eyes.
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