Open Source Cross Cultural Instructional Design


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Research paper developed in June 2006.

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Open Source Cross Cultural Instructional Design

  1. 1. Open Source Instructional Design 1 Running Head: OPEN SOURCE INSTRUCTION Open Source Cross Cultural Instructional Design Arturo Pelayo Western Illinois University
  2. 2. Open Source Instructional Design 2 “Open Source Cross Cultural Instructional Design” I. Abstract II. Introduction a. The IT-driven revolution: “The Flattening of the World” i. Outsourcing ii. Open Sourcing III. Body a. Context-aware Cross Cultural Interactions. i. Challenges 1. The Digital Divide a. “Designing for the other Six Billion People” 2. Developing context-aware collaborative & ethnographically adaptable collaboration frameworks. a. Use of Educational Modeling Languages 3. International Relations a. Political System b. Trade Policy c. Intellectual Policy ii. Trends 1. Open source with open standards a. Usability Engineering i. Learning Efficiency
  3. 3. Open Source Instructional Design 3 IV. Discussion a. Instructional Design as a ‘Rosetta Stone’ i. Opportunities 1. Learning from others: Outsourcing in Industrial Design a. The creative continuum. i. Paradigm Shift 1. Open Source Intellectual Property a. System Viability b. Sustainability 2. Instructional Design Synergy b. Ramifications in the global continuum. V. Conclusions a. Learning to “[walk] the walk” VI. Bibliography & References
  4. 4. Open Source Instructional Design 4 Abstract This paper analyses the role of Instructional Design in the context of the outsourcing and Open Sourcing movements. The challenges that Instructional Design has as a field are crucial to the creation of innovative scalable methodologies as catalysts of global change, challenge and equal opportunity. The goal of this paper is to understand how to conceive context-aware learning systems that are ethnographically unbound and cross-culturally adaptable.
  5. 5. Open Source Instructional Design 5 Open Source Cross Cultural Instructional Design Triggered by the Information Technology (IT) revolution, outsourcing and open sourcing are rapidly maturing movements that must not be ignored. While outsourcing is the work done for a company by people other than the company’s full time employees, open sourcing can be defined as non-binding, non-profit collaboration for the design, development, deployment, sustainability and improvement of many products (either hardware or software –like the Linux Operating System-) and services. The pace at which they are becoming more interwoven, however, poses cross cultural instructional design challenges and development opportunities that must be seized in the ever expanding global network of open sourcing and outsourcing, from Engineering, Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) to Supply Chain Management. This paper will explore how current technology has driven an interconnect of products and services, primarily driven by the Global Private Sector -albeit slowed down at times by certain governments & policies- and the trends and challenges that have been triggered by the Public Sector and Society through global collaborative efforts of open sourcing. We will briefly analyze the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) framework in China to have a knowledge base on the factors that play a role in any development cycle leading to Intellectual Property protection. The focus of this paper will be how does the trend setting footprint of these factors interconnect with one another by placing center stage in Instructional Design as a pivotal lean and efficient conduit for context-aware cross cultural interactions, the delivery of educational services and its ramification in the global continuum.
  6. 6. Open Source Instructional Design 6 Open Source, Cross Cultural Instructional Design. In a global trend, many different industries across countries and economic systems have jumped in the outsourcing bandwagon either willingly or carried along by its inertia. Outsourcing is intrinsically attractive for many companies, as the efficiency of work done becomes a tangible asset that can be tracked and tendered. However, the perceived decrease in expenditures (such as Benefits, Health Insurance, 401k, etc.) by hiring a separate entity whose people are other than the company’s full time employees poses an intercultural business communication challenge if this work is done, literally, thousands of miles away. According to Gibson (11, 2000), the “differences in the way decisions are made, communication style, the role of meetings, structure versus informality, management style and the use of local language” are intrinsically critical challenges that many Western companies face when they outsource to developing economies such as China, India, Israel and many Latin American countries to name a few. In recent years, the integration of information systems and the Internet have made such business practices extremely efficient in market-based economies. The past two decades, knowledge-driven Information Technologies have tremendously simplified, invigorated and challenged the field of Instructional Design. According to Paquette (2004), this science “has evolved to what can be termed “Instructional Engineering”, integrating instructional design, software and cognitive engineering processes and principles.” Keeping in mind that this paper invokes thinkers in a global context, it is only fair to make the acknowledgement that the field of Instructional Design, according to Paquette also has different names in other areas of the world. Paquette quotes Reigeluth (1983) and Merril (1994) in this case by explaining that “in American literature, this
  7. 7. Open Source Instructional Design 7 discipline is known as ‘Instructional Design (ID)’, ‘Instructional System Design (ISD)’ or ‘Instructional Science’ ”. Further on, Paquette also quotes Montessori (1958) explaining: “in Europe, one of the pioneers of the field used the term ‘Scientific Pedagogy’”. Instructional Design is increasingly becoming a center stage of the outsourcing movement and it is readily making a more profound proliferation in the open sourcing movement. According to Friedman (2005), the World is becoming a flat place where the opportunity to receive and deliver services is only physically limited by the bandwidth of the IT infrastructure on both ends. While this document will not immerse into Friedman’s remarkable accounts of the outsourcing movement in contemporary times, it is nonetheless worth noting. What is striking, is that the purely voluntary non-binding, non-profit collaboration model has worked and matured enough that it has challenged the status quo of many business practices. Friedman further explains how the model of Open Sourcing has heavily challenged technology conglomerates of heavy weight in Silicon Valley with companies such as Big Blue (a.k.a IBM) as they decided to adopt the open source Apache framework rather than IBM’s own proprietary technology. Who would have even considered less than a quarter of a century ago that the design, development, deployment, sustainability and improvement of many products (either hardware or software –like Linux-) and services could tangibly impact millions of people in the present day? The Internet and new collaborative models that are location-free and 100% collaborative have steadily driven Instructional Design to a whole new realm. How is it then that a framework Open Source Cross Cultural Instructional Design could be achieved considering all the factors that interplay in this new framework? Paquette makes the case of the relevance to drive common standards into the discipline by explaining that
  8. 8. Open Source Instructional Design 8 “The work on Educational Modeling Languages [Koper 2001], and the subsequent integration of a subset in the IMS Learning Design Specification, is the most important initiative to date to integrate Instructional Design in the Standards movement. In particular, it describes a formal way to represent the structure of a Unit of Learning and the concept of a pedagogical method specifying roles and activities that learners and support persons can play using learning objects. Instructional Engineering, as defined above, and Educations Modeling Languages have much in common. They put the main emphasis on pedagogy and Instructional Design. They share a software engineering approach, EML being represented using the UML software modeling methodology.” With such a massive flow of information around us, standards are needed to prevent havoc and also to aid the conglomerate fields that have already propelled Instructional Design to a whole new ballpark. According to Nielsen (1993), usability is typically described in terms of five characteristics: ease of learning, efficiency of use, memorability, error frequency and severity, and subjective to satisfaction. The opportunity at large is developing creative, transparent and efficient intercultural collaborative models that are underlined by a common framework of standards, communication, best practices, continuous development, deployment, improvement and expansion. Instructional Design becomes a ‘Rosetta Stone’ in this workflow. This framework must, at any rate, be intrinsically simple, ethnographically unbound and cross- culturally adaptable given the nature of most open source projects. The paradigm shift roadblock being is that its sustainability is inheriting on the endurance of participant’s input, limited by their country’s political system, stability, economics, and the existing international trade policy and the frameworks for Intellectual Property Asset Management. For example, according to the US Department of Commerce (2006),
  9. 9. Open Source Instructional Design 9 “despite stronger statutory protection, China continues to be a haven for counterfeiters and pirates. According to one copyright industry association, the piracy rate remains one of the highest in the world (over 90 percent) and U.S. companies lose over one billion dollar[s] in legitimate business each year to piracy. On average, 20 percent of all consumer products in the Chinese market are counterfeit. If a product sells, it is likely to be illegally duplicated. U.S. companies are not alone, as pirates and counterfeiters target both foreign and domestic companies.” While not all countries’ policies are mirror images of what can be found in China, several factors are not endemic to this country and they can be easily found elsewhere. These “undermine enforcement measures, including… reliance on administrative instead of criminal measures to combat [Intellectual Property Rights’] infringements, corruption and local protectionism at the provincial levels, limited resources and training available to enforcement officials, and lack of public education regarding the economic and social impact of counterfeiting and piracy.” How could we then conceive Intellectual Property that is owned not by an individual or a company but must, at the same time, be safeguarded? How can fair competition between corporate giants and small open source communities establish a common ground where ideas are respected and innovation is propelled with the single purpose being to strive humanity forward? It is indeed hard to consider that Instructional Design could solve these problems all at once, the irony being that limiting economics, politics and cultures tangibly limit the inception of new technologies. This realization that Instructional Design must be stripped of the interdependency with technology is bothersome to the root of how the field has strived to differentiate itself from others. Paquette also considers that Instructional Design is “a methodology mostly concerned
  10. 10. Open Source Instructional Design 10 with the processes and principles that will produce good specifications of a learning system.” The keyword in this case is methodology. For more technology that we can think of, without a method, there is no added value to the scientific innovation inheriting to a specific device. Driving good methodologies that are simple, ethnographically unbound and cross-culturally adaptable is the key to Open Source Instructional Design. It is by no means an easy feat as it would be an irony for an individual to develop in his or her own a system of such gargantuan magnitude. It has to be developed in tandem all across the globe to be, at the very least, viable for a larger audience. How is it then that small open source projects be technologically adequate for many different countries? What is the right mix of technology, methodology, know-how and innovation? The easy answer maybe the right answer, and such is that we can only know when we make it happen. It may be uncomfortable, you may be yelled at, or praised for, empathized with or derogated by. It is, paradoxically, an uninviting environment; yet it is unacceptable not to take action and remain on the sideline. The opportunity of discovery and growth is exquisitely irresistible and it is in such spirit that many thinkerers, innovators and geniuses out there push the Human Spirit forward. Because we thrive for Global Justice and many of them tirelessly aim to make a better world around them. This is then the Human essence of why it is important to have standards, standards that must be implemented in methodologies that can be globally enhanced to spread knowledge. Technology is not the catalyst of change, it is the human behind it. Technology has come and gone and what makes people move forward is not the great version of a new software nor the next top-of-the-line device, it is a mental connection based on belief, hope and faith. Ironically it is also the premise of how many individuals in developed countries see technology as a catalyst of opportunity. The digital divide, which according to Wikipedia (2006) is “the gap between those with regular, effective access to digital technologies and those
  11. 11. Open Source Instructional Design 11 without”. The irony of many frameworks is such on which projects are outsourced to countries that are living in the digital divide, where the lines of “social inclusion and equality of opportunity” easily blur. Perhaps it is important to mention now that other fields have taken inroads to sustainable development, collective intellectual property and also aimed at leveling off the digital divide. In related professional fields, such as Industrial Design, the open source movement has also taken inroads and intellectual property becomes a pivotal aspect of the designer’s role. According to Speer (2006), another paradigm shift is that the design process must be invoked, influenced and invigorated by the environment and by the end-user, shifting thoroughly with the vision that an Industrial Designer’s drive is not, at any rate, based on self- centric purposes. Intellectual property becomes of collective ownership while seemingly, the know-how and capability may be tied to a single entity (Industrial Designer, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, Non-profit Organization, etc.). Speer’s account of several successful developmental projects across different geographies primarily in Latin America, exhorts such an important need in the modus operandi of the creative workflow of artists, designers and their designer-led entrepreneurs’ companies. A good example of the type of online communities that can be found is referenced by the Peer to Peer Foundation (2006),, is a “project that brings together engineers, designers, academics, and professionals from a variety of disciplines.” With a growing platform developed already by many of the contributors themselves, the community members have succeeded in the road block of creating collective ownership for the sake of improving the human quality of life. ‘Visioneering’ artifacts that are tangible to produce, environmentally viable and intuitive to the end user is the heart of open sourcing. As the team at reflects on open sourcing as:
  12. 12. Open Source Instructional Design 12 “[harnessing] the distributive powers of the Internet, [parceling] the work out to thousands, [using] their piecework to build a better whole – putting informal networks of volunteer coders in direct competition with big corporations. It works like an ant colony, where the collective intelligence of the network supersedes any single contributor.” It is with such a powerful drive to tangibly harness the “collective intelligence” that all around us we can find good examples of how volunteers have already made projects in areas such as healthcare as it is the case for the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC) project, which is a platform for distributed processing of ‘chunks’ of raw data that is analyzed by volunteers on their personal computers during the wasted processing cycles (i.e. when the screen saver is running or the system is idle). In 2005, a notable achievement in this project happened when in less than 2 weeks from being posted, literally hundreds of thousands of volunteers harnessed the collective power of their computers as they joined Boinc in breaking down the structure of HSN5B, mostly referred as Bird Flu. Why is this remarkable? Because it would have otherwise taken more than 10,000 years of processing power to even get to the point where scientists working in the project where in 10 business days. Boinc’s foundation goes back to the University of Berkeley in California, where a peer-to-peer collaboration framework was originally conceived to analyze data from radio telescopes for the Search of Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute (SETI). As one of the ‘oldest’ and most successful global collaborative projects in the planet –with a couple hundreds of thousands of years of data processing under its belt, it has been a considerable journey how adaptation has expanded the initial application. We have gone from only looking for little green men to understanding the RNA sequence of deadly viruses such as EBOLA, AIDS (all three variants), Human DNA and several other viruses and diseases. As Speer advocates, the key ingredient that is the need for getting to know and
  13. 13. Open Source Instructional Design 13 understand who will benefit from the product development cycle all the way to the release of the product in the creative continuum. The need for Instructional Design driven methodologies is once again clear also in this context. Such methods to provide instructional support for both Creative Professionals and end users is the key bridge that must be built through cross-cultural communication by the Industrial Designers in order to prosper in their creative endeavors with efficiency, and with solid building blocks of confidence in every area. According to the Wikipedia, to bridge the digital divide, “ease of access is a fundamental aspect, but it is not the sole factor. Effective access also depends on ability to use ICT (Information and Communications Technologies) effectively, and on the quality of digital content that is available and can be provided. The quality of connection, auxiliary services and other factors that affect effective use are also important (Davison and Cotten, 2003). Access can be through a range of devices and each provides a different level of support. Once an appropriate level of access is achieved, the individual then requires an education that includes literacy and technological skills to make effective use of it. From this point on, participation becomes possible because of the wealth of usable information that becomes available coupled with the equally important capacity to provide information to others.” Instructional Design becomes the key broker –or bridge- in this relationship and has intrinsic benefits for any party either in open source, outsource or proprietary business practices. Creating better bonds in the cross cultural interactions that many times will happen, will indeed become a win – win relationship of synergy for both actors in the creative continuum. The relationships and the forged alliances must be established with enough cohesion to create synergy but not interdependency. In other words, if we are to engage in building solid
  14. 14. Open Source Instructional Design 14 relationships, as the saying goes “We must teach people how to fish”. This is conceivably a whole new world order, ideas are not cascading from the top and trickling down the executive chain, it is almost as if gravity reversed itself, and it was humans who regained control of the elements. Is it an utopia to conceive a world where standard-driven Open Source Cross Cultural Instructional Design could lead the way to this vision? Would there be a time when collaboration replaces corporation? We must keep our feet on the ground for the time being and gain an understanding of how we communicate within ourselves and with each of the other six billion people we share the planet with before we embark into a journey we have no conception off. . In tandem, with the know-how of Instructional Designers, inroads for sustainable development in small, most of times indigenous communities across the globe need to be kept at the forefront of the instructional-led processes, new methodologies and services. The time to act is now and it is only after we take the first step into this journey that we will discover much more than if we just stood still on the sideline. As Speer mentions: “talking the talk is easy... walking the walk is really hard”.
  15. 15. Open Source Instructional Design 15 References Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC). (2006). University of California:Berkeley, CA. Retrieved July 6, 2006 from Friedman. (2005). The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 3. Gibson. (2000). Intercultural Business Communication: Fachsprache Englisch. Berlin, Germany: Cornelsen & Oxford University Press GmbH & Co, 11. Nielsen. (1993). Usability Engineering. Boston: Academic Press. Paquette. (2004). Educational Modeling languages: From an Instructional Engineering Perspective. Montreal, Quebec: Presses de l’Université du Québec. Peer to Peer (P2P) Foundation. (2006). Open Source Industrial Design. Retrieved July 2, 2006 from Speer. (2006). The Next Decade in Design: Paradigm Shift. Innovation,Spring 2006, 31- 35. United States Department of Commerce.(2003). Protecting your Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in China. Retrieved July 5, 2006 from Wikipedia. Digital Divide. Retrieved July 5, 2006 from