Before 1920 
  The Future

The 1960s:
Instructional Systems Development

Influences on this period:

  • The military were rapidly infusing instructional systems development into their standard training procedures.
  • The Civil Rights Act outlaws discrimination in public accomodations and by employers (1964).

This period was distinguished by the articulation of components of instructional systems and the recognition of their system properties.

In 1962 Robert Glaser employed the term instructional system and named, elaborated, and diagramed its components.

In 1965, Robert Gagne published The Conditions of Learning, a milestone that elaborated the analysis of learning objectives and went on to relate different classes of learning objectives to appropriate instructional designs.

Gagne introduced the idea of task analysis to instructional design. Through task analysis, an instructional task could be broken down into sequential steps - hieracrchical relationship of tasks and subtasks. Gagne built on principles of the systems approach which Skinner explored in programmed instruction,.

The systems approach to designing instruction was introduced by James Finn.Seels (1989) states that Finn

"was a father of the instructional design movement because he linked the theory of systems design to educational technology, and thus encouraged the integrated growth of these related fields of study. It was Finn who made educational technologists aware that technology was as much a process as a piece of hardware" (Seels 1989, 11).

James Finn also established a Commission on Definition and Terminology whose goal was to define the field and associated terminology.

The term "hypertext" was coined by Ted Nelson, who defined it in his self-published Literary Machines as "non-sequential writing" (1965).

Norman Crowder developed "intrinsic" programming. In this model, a learner's possible responses are multiple choice, and the program branches depending on the response chosen. Students could omit steps they already knew or return to study remedial material on information already presented.

Gordon Pask enlarged upon Crowder's ideas about non-linear sequencing.

A shift from norm-referenced testing to criterion-based testing was noted.
Norm-Referenced evaluations compare the student's performance against the performance of other students and are most often summative.
Criterion-Referenced testing is the assessment of student mastery of specific skills regardless of other student
performance and are almost always formative.

The focus was on the development of instructional materials.

IBM Partnership
In 1963, IBM established a partnership with Stanford University's Institute for Mathematical Studies in the Social Sciences (IMSSS), directed by Patrick Suppes, to develop the first comprehensive CAI elementary school curriculum which was implemented on a large scale in schools in both California and Mississippi.

Computer Curriculum Corporation (CCC)
In 1967, the Computer Curriculum Corporation (CCC) was formed to market the materials developed through the IBM partnership.


Seels, B. (1989). The instructional design movement in educational technology. Educational Technology, May, 11-15.