[Bridging_the_digital_divide] A Manifesto for Instructional Technology: Hyperpedagogy

Jason Barkeloo jbarkeloo at touchsmart.net
Wed Jul 14 10:03:39 EDT 2004

A Manifesto for Instructional Technology: Hyperpedagogy

Jim Dwight
Virginia Tech
Author Bio | E-mail Author

Jim Garrison
Virginia Tech
Author Bio | E-mail Author

We believe hypertext and hypermedia solidify bold and original ideas 
having the power to open new realms of creative possibility. 
Unfortunately, we find the new tools encrusted within concepts borrowed 
from traditional curriculum theory and instructional design. Our goal 
in this paper is to liberate hypertext; doing so requires challenging 
Western metaphysics. We rely on the philosophy of John Dewey to 
disclose this metaphysics and propose an alternative. The paper reviews 
dominant models of curriculum, especially Ralph Tyler’s, revealing 
their concealed metaphysical assumptions. Our efforts are greatly aided 
by Herbert M. Kliebard’s critique of the Tyler rationale, exposing the 
fact that, in spite of its inflated claims, all there is to Tyler’s 
rationale is ‘‘the philosophical screen.’’ That is also all we think 
there is to all the dominant models of curriculum. We show that the 
philosophical screen is largely comprised of a concealed metaphysics 
before concluding by showing how hypertext and hypermedia, freed of 
dogmatic metaphysics, may yield what we call hyperpedagogy, based upon 
theories of emergent pedagogy and transactional metaphysics.

Executive Summary

Computers in the classroom offer exciting and promising educational 
potential and one of the most auspicious ideas circulating in the field 
is hypertext. Hypertext, and hypermedia, actualizes bold and original 
ideas having the power to open new realms of creative possibility. One 
of the boldest and most original of these ideas is poststructuralism. 
Poststructuralist thinking rejects the notions of a fixed and final 
telos, absolute origin, or ultimate fixed center (or foundation) to any 
process, including learning processes. Unfortunately, structuralist 
concepts borrowed from traditional curriculum theory squeeze the life 
out of hypertext. Our goal in this article is to reconceptualize how 
classroom computing can make appropriate use of the new tools of 
hypertext. Doing so requires us to challenge some of the most 
entrenched dogmas of Western thought. We have in mind the metaphysics 
that emerged in the writings of Plato and Aristotle  2,500 years ago 
and have been promulgated ever since. This metaphysics assumes fixed 
and final essences that are the ultimate telos of all natural 
processes, including intelligent inquiry and learning. Structuralist 
metaphysics further assumes that ultimate ends and essences regulate 
the process so it achieves preordained objectives. Supposedly, acorns 
become oak trees because they have the latent potential to achieve 
their perfect essence. The same false assumption holds for children’s 
potential for becoming perfectly rational adults. Currently, 
educational objectives and standards determined in advance of the 
opportunity for learning provide the ultimate telos and the essence of 
proper learning.

The aim of this article is to nudge those in the field of education who 
advocate the expanded use of computers in the classroom into a state of 
discontent and disequilibrium, so that we can chart new courses in the 
inchoate and evolving globalized digital culture. To do this in the 
deepest, most disturbing way possible, we must shed light on the 
cardinal principles of the structuralist metaphysics that has dominated 
2,500 years of Western thought by deconstructing its liabilities. 
Dogmatic metaphysics went largely unchallenged until Darwin proposed 
the theory of evolution. The word “species” is just the Latin for the 
ancient Greek word for essence (eidos); essences evolve though they 
have no fixed and final telos determined in advance—as should 
educational objectives.

Our article is a manifesto; it calls for digital technology in 
education to embrace forms of pedagogy appropriate to hypertext. 
Hypertext builds upon poststructuralist theories respecting 
communication, authority, knowledge, and power as well as theories of 
critical pedagogy. Liberating hypertext to realize its possibilities 
for emergent learning requires many things. Here, we only strive to 
free it from the bounds of traditional metaphysics with its assumptions 
of fixedness and finality. That means freeing how we use computers in 
education following traditional theories of curriculum and 
instructional design, all of which have structuralist assumptions about 
objectives, standards, and the ultimate aims of education. If we are 
right, hypertext embodies ideas that point the way toward new 
educational vistas.

We begin with a brief definition of hypertext. Next, we discuss Jay L. 
Lemke’s rejection of traditional educational systems as inadequate for 
releasing the potential of hypertext. We think Lemke constitutes a good 
beginning, but hypertext owes a great deal to poststructuralist 
semiotics, particularly the work of Barthes, Derrida, and Foucault. 
Therefore, any critique of traditional theories of curriculum and 
instructional design adequate to releasing the potential of hypertext 
must expose their structuralist assumptions. These assumptions include 
a commitment to ultimate foundations, supposedly eternal, fixed, and 
final essences, and the idea that any activity, including the activity 
of learning, has a perfect telos (e.g., the actualization of the 
child’s potential for rationality).

We have two surprising allies in deconstructing the structuralist 
assumptions of conventional curriculum and instructional design. One is 
Herbert M. Kliebard’s (1970/1979) critique of the curriculum rationale 
of Ralph Tyler’s objectives based theory of curriculum that dominates 
educational thinking right up to today’s “standards” movement. Toward 
the end of his critique, Kliebard turns to John Dewey for support. 
Dewey is our second surprising ally, especially because it is not 
difficult to show that his philosophy is poststructuralist (Garrison, 
1999, 2001). Structuralism, including structuralist theories of 
curriculum and instructional design, receives its strongest support 
from a hidden source, the tradition of Western metaphysics. We show how 
Dewey’s philosophy of education, including his critique of traditional 
curriculum theory and instructional design, relies on his critique of 
Western metaphysics.

Having come to grips with Dewey’s poststructuralism, we examine how 
poststructuralist thought informs hypertext theory. We will place 
special emphasis on George Landow’s vision of hypertext as a 
poststructuralist space; Dewey provides an appropriate pedagogy for 
such a space. Hypertext theories advocate enacting a more pluralistic 
computer pedagogy than that currently endorsed by proponents of 
traditional curriculum. Finally, poststructuralism provides a new, more 
active, critical, and creative reading of texts that deconstruct 
regimes of power in order to recognize how dominant metanarratives 
script authoritarian theories of learning. Our goal is to disrupt 
hierarchies of authority, power, and control in teaching and learning. 
We hope our article will help to clear the ground for building a 
poststructural pedagogy appropriate to the needs and possibilities of 
hypertext and hypermedia


Jason Barkeloo
TouchSmart Publishing
tele 513.225.8765

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