Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Learning Technologies Division

First Advisor

Brendan Calandra, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Jonathan Cohen, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Maggie Renken, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Lauren Margulieux, Ph.D.


This dissertation includes a literature review and a single case analysis at the nexus of instructional design and technology and software development. The purpose of this study is to explore the depth and breadth of educational software design and development processes, and educational software reuse, with the intent of uncovering barriers to software development, software re-use and software replication in educational contexts. First, a thorough review of the academic literature was conducted on a representative sampling of educational technology studies. An examination of a 15-year time period within four representative journals identified 72 studies that addressed educational software to some extent. An additional sampling of the initial results identified 50 of those studies that discussed software the development process. These were further analyzed for evidence of software re-use and replication. Review results found a lack of reusable and/or replication-focused reports of instructional software development in educational technology journals, but found some reporting of educational technology reuse and replication from articles outside of educational technology. Based on the analysis, possible reasons for this occurrence are discussed. The author then proposes how a model for conducting and presenting instructional software design and development research based on the constructs of design-based research and cultural-historical activity theory might help mitigate this gap. Finally, the author presents a qualitative analysis of the software development process within a large, design-based educational technology project using cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT) as a lens. Using CHAT, the author seeks to uncover contradictions between the working worlds of instructional design and technology and software development with the intent of demonstrating how to mitigate tensions between these systems, and ultimately to increase the likelihood of reusable/replicable educational technologies. Findings reveal myriad tensions and social contradictions centered around the translation of instructional goals and requirements into software design and development tasks. Based on these results, the researcher proposes an educational software development framework called the iterative and integrative instructional software design framework that may help alleviate these tensions and thus make educational software design and development more productive, transparent, and replicable.


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