There is no shortage of optimism among learning professionals about the positive impact that today’s new technologies are having on the learning and development profession.  Chris Pirie, chairman of the ASTD Board of Directors, asserts that now is probably the best time to be a learning and development stakeholder.  He suggests that a combination of the proliferation of smart mobile technology, such as iPads and Galaxy phones, the maturing cloud infrastructure and the increased use of natural user interfaces like XBox Kinect have “changed the game” for learning professionals, and that teaching and learning are forever altered.

There’s no question that advancements in technology have changed the learning landscape.  Professional educators however must keep in mind that just because a learning intervention is delivered through the cloud via a mobile device utilizing a natural user interface does not necessarily mean the solution itself will be effective.  Training professionals must be careful not to miss the forest for the trees, or to translate into a phrase more appropriate for this conversation, we must not forgo good instructional design and adherence to sound instructional principals because we are utilizing cool technology.

Technology advancements do not invalidate the work of pioneers like the cognitive scientist Benjamin Bloom who developed a taxonomy that helps instructional designers classify instructional objectives and goals, and derive the appropriate measures of learned capability. In fact, without clear objectives it is impossible to determine if the intervention has been successful regardless of how it’s delivered.

Just because the instruction is being delivered via an iPad does not mean that it’s OK to ignore the nine instructional events that Gagne suggested are the basis for both designing instruction and selecting the appropriate media. Let’s face it; if the learning solution delivered through this new technology doesn’t get the attention of the learner, if the objective of the learning isn’t identified, or the learner’s prior knowledge isn’t activated, then there is little chance that the instruction can be successful.

Technology is great. It allows learning professionals to interact with students in ways that we once thought were never possible.  However, if we are to achieve the full potential that these technologies can provide, we cannot ignore the need to practice sound instructional principles and design practices.  In fact, these principles and practices must be married to the technology.