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Theoretical Foundation for Advanced Distributed Learning Research

2001; Hays, Robert T

Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Initiative has been embraced by the Department of Defense, other Government agencies, private industry, and academia as a tool that has the potential to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of modem instructional systems. As with any other instructional approach, ADL Initiative cannot achieve its full potential if the individuals and organizations involved in its development fail to understand that ADL Initiative systems are controlled and constrained by system principles. The goal of this paper is to sensitize individuals working in all aspects of ADL Initiative systems to the power of a system view and to provide several examples of system methods and tools. The paper presents a theoretical foundation for an ADL Initiative research agenda based upon an overview of system concepts and discussion of how they apply to the development and implementation of ADL Initiative systems. It argues that the adoption of a system perspective will improve the communication and understanding among the diverse groups engaged in ADL Initiative system development and can help ADL Initiative mature into an effective instructional alternative. A number of ADL research issues are discussed and several system-oriented methodologies are suggested to address these issues.