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Help: Toward a New Ethics-Centered Paradigm
for Instructional Design and Technology

Dillon K. Inouye, Paul F. Merrill, and Richard H. Swan
Brigham Young University


A first step in defining IDT would be to identify its central concern. Although some see science, design, or technology as central, IDT's actual center has always been to help learners. Because the aspiration to help people is by definition ethical , it follows that the central concern of IDT is ethical. Thus, science, design, and technology become means to an ethical end. They serve praxis , or practical action, and no longer belong only to the episteme of science, the poiesis of design, or the episteme/poiesis hybrid of modern technology. Phronesis, or practical wisdom, is the chief virtue of praxis , thus making ethical choice, sound judgment, and expert decision-making topics of paramount interest. Help at the center simplifies IDT and dissolves many long-standing anomalies. It suggests the possibility of a new ethics-centered paradigm. Selected implications for IDT, its profession, and its constituent subfields are explored.


I. The search for IDT's center

  • Four Paradigmatic Centers
  • Aristotle's Activities of the Rational Intellect

II. Implications

  • General Implications for the Discipline
  • General Implications for the Profession
  • Specific Implications for Constituent Subfields of IDT

III. Summary and conclusions

IV. References

V. Full version of the paper [PDF]

February 2005 IDT Record