A section of the special issue of "Educational Technology" on the implications of constructivism for educational technology introduces a systematic theory of hypertext design called "Random Access Instruction" (RAI).
Based on the fact that the failure of many instructional systems are influenced by underlying biases and assumptions in the design of instruction, the authors develop principal recommendations for the development of instructional hypertext systems to promote successful learning of difficult subject matter. In particular, they critizise the representation of the instructional domain and its associated performance demands in an unrealistically simplified and well- structured manner.
Stressing the flexible reassembly of pre-existing knowledge to adaptively fit the needs of a new situation, this new constructivist orientation can promote the development of cognitive flexibility using theory- based hypertext systems. The problems posed by ill-structured aspects of knowledge for the advanced knowledge acquisition can be remedied by the principles of Cognitive Flexibility Theory (CFT) which in part of will be applied systematically as an instruction theory called Random Access Instruction for nonlinear computer learning environments.
In a next step the authors explain the characteristics of an ill- structured domain (characterised by conceptual complexity and across- case- irregularity) and the main points of advanced knowledge acquisition. Thereupon they explain the principles of CFT introduced as one antidote to the problems of advanced knowledge acquisition in ill-structured domains.
Subsequently they discuss constraints of the design of hypertext learning environments drawn from implications of CFT by illustrating the theory- and context- based logic of hypertext design within a single hypertext example. They conclude their article with a first empirical study which underlines the promoted superior transfer of CFT to a new problem- solving situation.This widely cited article does not loose ground regarding the transfer of an integrated theory of learning, mental representation and instruction focusing on the problems of advanced knowledge acquisition in ill-structured domains into its implications for the design of computer hypertext learning environments. Moreover, the addressed hypertext design features are still of great importance for current developments.