ESF Opens Its Doors Just as the
Field of Instructional Technology Field Emerges
Since the history of our company, Educational Systems for the Future®, goes back to the 1960's, it may be of interest to you to know how we fit into that new-at-the-time field of instructional technology.
I will not attempt to go into the history of the origins of instructional technology since there are many good resources for that information (including A Brief History of Instructional Design, a good article by Douglas Leigh, which appeared on ISPI's Global Network website. It covers many of the important forerunners in the field such as Sidney Pressey, Ralph Tyler, B. F. Skinner, Benjamin Bloom, researchers in the military's Air Research and Development Command who borrowed from Ludwig von Bertalanffy, Robert Glaser, Robert Mager, Robert Gagne, Robert Morgan, Leslie Briggs, Roger Kaufman, and others who were our contemporaries.
In September of 1961, General Briggs, Commander of the Air Force Training Command, appointed Colonel Gabriel Ofiesh to conduct a study of the effectiveness of programmed learning as compared to traditional Air Force instruction methods. The National Society for Programmed Instruction (NSPI) grew out of Dr. Ofiesh's task force. NSPI eventually became the "National Society for Performance and Instruction", then adopted its current name, the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) which more fully embodied the background and talents of its members.
By 1966, Dr. Ofiesh had created the Center for Educational Technology at The Catholic University of America. Dr. Ofiesh's program was not only the first doctoral degree in Educational Technology in the country, it was also the first Ed Tech degree that offered a Systems Design rather than hardware-based approach. In 1969, Peter was one of the first Ph.D. graduates; in 1972, when Mary completed her Ph.D., they were the first husband-wife team in the country to hold doctorates in this new field now called Instructional Technology.
During these years of intensive study, Peter, while working as a Title VI Grant Officer in Lyndon Johnson's Great Society programs at the Bureau of Higher Ed, Office of Education, ran workshops for CUA's Ed Tech Center. Mary had an Assistantship working in CUA's Curriculum Development Center putting into practice various Ed Tech theories.
Drs. Mary and Peter Esseff began ESF while Peter was working at Sterling Institute, then later at Westinghouse Learning Corporation, where he did a Cost-Effectiveness Analysis for the US Air Force.
During this time, they discovered that there was a lot of information in the field about developing curricula and using behavioral objectives, but no one had gone the next step and created a curriculum to use all the steps in the Systems Design approach to develop curricula. Synthesizing, testing, analyzing, and refining existing theories, the Esseffs came up with their unique approach to Systems Approach designed materials, which they named Instructional Development Learning System (IDLS).
Throughout the next decades, Mary and Peter continued to refine their process, added Software (TaskOutliner) and templates (StyleDoc) to make the process even easier for anyone to use. From the earliest days to the current time, Mary and Peter apply their IDLS process to all the instructional materials they develop both for themselves and for their clients. They teach others how to use their easy-to-use process in a three-day workshop, offer the course in a self-instructional format, and supervise many clients' development projects.