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In education, educational technology is "the theory and practice of design, development, utilization, management, and evaluation of processes and resources for learning," according to the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) Definitions and Terminology Committee.[1] Educational technology is sometimes also known as instructional technology or learning technology. The term educational technology is often associated with, and encompasses, instructional theory and learning theory. While instructional technology covers the processes and systems of learning and instruction, educational technology includes other systems used in the process of developing human capability.


Perspectives and meaning

For classroom teachers and those who work with students, educational technology is more simply and comfortably thought of as an array of tools that might prove helpful in advancing the learning of students.

It is important to consider the meaning of technology to understand the meaning of the word in an educational context. The popular definition of technology refers to machine or electronic systems. Under this definition, for example, a DVD player or a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) system constitute technology. However, fields such as Educational Technology rely on a broader definition of the word. "Technology" can refer to material objects of use to humanity, such as machines, hardware or utensils, but can also encompass broader themes, including systems, methods of organization, and techniques. One who practices educational technology is called an educational technologist.

Consider the publication "Handbook of Human Performance Technology" (Eds. Harold Stolovich, Erica Keeps, James Pershing)(3rd ed, 2006). The word technology for the sister fields of Educational and Human Performance Technology means "applied science." In other words, any valid and reliable process or procedure that is derived from basic research using the "scientific method" is considered a "technology." Educational or Human Performance Technology may be based purely on algorithmic or heuristic processes, but neither necessarily implies physical technology. The word technology, comes from the Greek "Techne" which means craft or art. Another word technique, with the same origin, also may be used when considering the field Educational technology. So Educational technology may be extended to include the techniques of the educator.

An Educational Technologist is a person who transforms basic educational and psychological research into an evidence-based applied science (or a technology) of learning or instruction. A classic example of an Educational Technology is "Bloom B. S. (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook I: The Cognitive Domain. New York: David McKay Co Inc." Educational Technologists typically have a graduate degree (Master's, Doctorate, Ph.D., or D.Phil.) in a field related to educational psychology, educational media, experimental psychology, cognitive psychology or, more purely, in the fields of Educational, Instructional or Human Performance Technology or Instructional (Systems) Design. But few of those listed below as thinkers would ever use the term "educational technologist" as a term to describe themselves, preferring less stuffy terms like educator.

History

One comprehensive history of the field is Saettler, P. (1990), The evolution of American educational technology. Libraries Unlimited, Inc. Englewood California. The first use of instructional technology cannot be attributed to a specific person or time. Many histories of instructional technology start in the early 1900s, while others go back to the 1600s. This depends on the definition of instructional technology. Definitions that focus on a systems approach tend to reach further back in history, while those definitions focused on sensory devices are relatively more recent.

The use of audio and visual instruction was boosted as a military response to the problems of a labor shortage during WWII in the United States. There was a definitive need to fill the factories with skilled labor. Instructional technology provided a methodology for training in a systematic and efficient manner.

With it came the use of highly structured manuals, instructional films, and standardized tests. Thomas Edison saw the value of instructional technology in films but did not formalize the science of instruction as the US military did so well.

Current status

Instructional technology is a growing field of study which uses technology as a means to solve educational challenges, both in the classroom and in distance learning environments.

While instructional technology promises solutions to many educational problems, resistance from faculty and administrators to the use of technology in the classroom is not unusual. This reaction can arise from the belief - or fear - that the ultimate aim of instructional technology is to reduce or even remove the human element of instruction. Most instructional technologists however, would counter with this claim that education will always require human intervention from instructors or facilitators.

Many graduate programs are producing instructional designers, who increasingly are being employed by industry and universities to create materials for distance education programs. These professionals often employ e-learning tools, which provide distance learners the opportunity to interact with instructors and experts in the field, even if they are not located physically close to each other.

More recently a new form of Instructional technology known as Human Performance Technology has evolved. HPT focuses on performance problems and deals primarily with corporate entities.

Areas

Within the field of instructional technology, there are many specific areas of focus. While instructional technology can apply to the military and corporate settings, educational technology is instructional technology applied to a learning and teaching environment.

Razavi (2005) advocates that educational technology covers instructional technology. It includes instructional technology and the field study in human teaching and learning. So educational technology is broader than instructional technology. Instructional technology itself is consisted from two major parts. One is teaching technology and another is learning technology. In the education industry, the term "instructional technology" is frequently used interchangeably with "educational technology."

Human Performance Technology (HPT) has a focus on corporate environments. Learning sciences are a growing area of focus dealing instructional techniques and learning theories.

Theories and practices

Three main theoretical schools or philosophical frameworks have been present in the educational technology literature. These are Behaviorism, Cognitivism and Constructivism. Each of these schools of thought are still present in today's literature but have evolved as the Psychology literature has evolved.


Relation to learning theory

The purpose of instructional technology, of course, is the promotion of learning. Learning theory (education) has influenced Instructional design and Instructional designers (the practitioners of Instructional Technology). Instructional Technologies promote communication and interactivity. These two come together under the general heading of Interaction.

Moore (1989) argues that there are three types of learner interaction (learner-content, learner-instructor, and learner-learner interactions). In the years since Moore's article, several philosophical views have surfaced that relate Instructional technology to these types of interaction.

Most traditional researchers (those subscribing to Cognitivism) argue that learner-content interaction is perhaps the most important endeavor of Instructional technology. Some researchers (those subscribing to constructivism) argue that Moore's social interactions, (learner-instructor and learner-learner interactions), are as useful as learner-content interaction.


Behaviorism

This theoretical framework was developed in the early 20th century with the animal learning experiments of Ivan Pavlov, Edward Thorndike, Edward C. Tolman, Clark L. Hull, B.F. Skinner and many others. Many Psychologists used these theories to describe and experiment with human learning. While still very useful this philosophy of learning has lost favor with many educators.

Skinner's Contributions

B.F. Skinner wrote extensively on improvements of teaching based on his functional analysis of Verbal Behavior,[2] and wrote "The Technology of Teaching",[3] an attempt to dispel the myths underlying contemporary education, as well as promote his system he called programmed instruction. Ogden Lindsley also developed the Celeration learning system similarly based on behavior analysis but quite different from Keller's and Skinner's models.

Cognitivism

Cognitive science has changed how educators view learning. Since the very early beginning of the Cognitive Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, learning theory has undergone a great deal of change. Much of the empirical framework of Behaviorism was retained even though a new paradigm had begun. Cognitive theories look beyond behavior to explain brain-based learning. Cognitivists consider how human memory works to promote learning.

After memory theories like the Atkinson-Shiffrin memory model and Baddeley's Working memory model were established as a theoretical framework in Cognitive Psychology, new cognitive frameworks of learning began to emerge during the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. It is important to note that Computer Science and Information Technology have had a major influence on Cognitive Science theory. The Cognitive concepts of working memory (formerly known as short term memory) and long term memory have been facilitated by research and technology from the field of Computer Science. Another major influence on the field of Cognitive Science is Noam Chomsky. Today researchers are concentrating on topics like Cognitive load and Information Processing Theory.


Constructivism

Constructivism is a learning theory or educational philosophy that many educators began to consider in the 1990s. One of the primary tenets of this philosophy is that learners construct their own meaning from new information, as they interact with reality or others with different perspectives.

Constructivist learning environments require students to utilize their prior knowledge and experiences to formulate new, related, and/or adaptive concepts in learning. Under this framework the role of the teacher becomes that of a facilitator, providing guidance so that learners can construct their own knowledge. Constructivist educators must make sure that the prior learning experiences are appropriate and related to the concepts being taught. Jonassen (1997) suggests "well-structured" learning environments are useful for novice learners and that "ill-structured" environments are only useful for more advanced learners. Educators utilizing technology when teaching with a constructivist perspective should choose technologies that reinforce prior learning perhaps in a problem-solving environment.

Instructional technique and technologies

Problem Based Learning and Inquiry-based learning are active learning educational technologies used to facilitate learning. Technology which includes physical and process applied science can be incorporated into project, problem, inquiry-based learning as they all have a similar educational philosophy. All three are student centered, ideally involving real-world scenarios in which students are actively engaged in critical thinking activities. The process that students are encouraged to employ (as long as it is based on empirical research) is considered to be a technology. Classic examples of technologies used by teachers and Educational Technologists include Bloom's Taxonomy and Instructional Design.

Thinkers in this Area

Hall Davidson
Lawrence Tomei
Karl Fisch
Ian Jukes
Jamie McKenzie
Scott McLeod
Alan November
Seymour Papert
Will Richardson
Gary Stager
John Sweller
Joyce Kazman Valenza
David Warlick
David Marcovitz

This is an area where new thinkers are coming to the forefront everyday. Many of the ideas spread from theorists, researchers, and experts through their blogs. Extensive lists of educational bloggers by area of interest are available at Steve Hargadon's SupportBloggers site or at the movingforward wiki started by Scott McLeod. Many of these blogs are recognized by their peers each year through the edublogger awards. Web 2.0 technologies have led to a huge increase in the amount of information available on this topic and the number of educators formally and informally discussing it.

Other interests

Educational technology and the humanities

Research from the Alberta Initiative for School Improvement (AISI) [1] indicates that inquiry and project-based approaches, combined with a focus on curriculum, effectively supports the infusion of educational technologies into the learning and teaching process. Below are some promising practices and emerging applications specifically related to learning and technology within humanities disciplines:

  • Social Studies - Under Construction -Global Studies and Citizenship
  • English Language Arts - Under Construction - Changing Space of Text and Reading

Societies

Learned societies concerned with educational technology include:

See also

Areas of interest and growth:


Standards and specifications:


Other aspects

References

  1. D. Randy Garrison and Terry Anderson (2003). E-Learning in the 21st Century: A Framework for Research and Practice, Routledge.
  2. Skinner, B.F. The science of learning and the art of teaching. Harvard Educational Review, 1954, 24, 86-97., Teaching machines. Science, 1958, 128, 969-77. and others see http://www.bfskinner.org/f/EpsteinBibliography.pdf
  3. Skinner BF (1965). The technology of teaching. Proc R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 162 (989): 427–43.

Other

Further reading

Look up this page on
Wiktionary: Educational technology

Journals

Schools offering degrees in Educational Technology


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