Edtech 504 Discussion Def. of Educational Technology

People often associate technology with cool devices in grained into our daily lives.  Merriam-Webster defined it as “the use of science to invent useful things or to solve problems.”  The Greeks, however, had a different concept of this word.  They said it meant studying an original work and then developing a method or techniques so that others could replicate that work without the original person present (Educational Technology, 1973).  It’s a process which may involve a device to complete the objective.  Thinking about the meaning from that perspective, technology means a systematic process for creating instruction or instructional design. This concept of technology can be used in a variety of contexts wherever there is a need for learning to be done.  It can be simple to complex and more systemic as complexity increases.  The tools and gadgets fit into the mix in that these are man-made objects to aid the individual to work better, faster, and possibly without error in order to reach the objective.  Technology continues to get more sophisticated, and as a result, the shift has been to understand the process within the devices and tools.  Take for example the internet.  It has the qualities many would argue that serve as the future of education.  It is self-motivating, individualized, self-paced, and global. But to access all the resources requires an understanding of a high number of technologies wired to it.  Technology requires us to learn.  It does this through the understanding of the tools and the transference of knowledge and techniques from one individual to another.  At first glance the term educational seems redundant as learning inherently occurs in technology, but creating instruction and teaching it are two different fields.  Teaching specializes in managing, evaluating learners, making adjustments to varying abilities, and thus the instruction.  It guides the student in the art of learning.  This can be done in a variety of contexts, but it is best done within an organized institution such as a school.  I stress organization because it makes the learning more effective.

Educational technology is the field that specializes in improving learners’ ability assisted by an expert.  It utilizes devices and systematically developed instruction to expand understanding, replicate, problem-solve, and create.

Dr. Diane Hall: Hi Robert and Class,
I’m glad you used out the word “Instruction”  in the definition for Educational Technology. This brings up a good point…are the two (instructional technology and educational technology) interchangeable? Do they mean the same thing?

Initially I viewed the two words to be the same, but after thinking through it some more I would say there is a slight difference.  Educational can be interpreted in two ways. One is to broadly mean learning or expanding ones knowledge.  Alternatively, it can also mean the use of methods to help others learn.  Instructional is more specific to the second meaning of educational.  It focuses on a systematic method to teach.  If I think about an educational video and an instructional video, the educational video usually has a purpose to transmit information.  An instructional video, on the other hand, has a specific learning objective and directions on how to reach that objective.

Dr. Diane Hall: Hi Robert and Class,
Even though the two terms are used interchangeably, there are subtle differences. As you pointed out, instructional technology has a more specific learning goal. It is tied to a specific end result, whereas educational technology is more broad.
Here is a resource that further explains this:

Thanks for including the link.  The writer made a good point about education being a broad terminal goal and instructional technology, design, media, human performance technology, and teaching all serving as supports.  I would also add resource management under this umbrella.  But it highlights the systemic nature of educational technology and how it integrates technologies and disciplines to promote learning and performance. However, her explanation of instructional technology and instructional design was not clear to me.  I would say instructional design includes “the theory and practice of design, development, utilization, management, and evaluation of processes and resources (instructional media) for learning (Larson and Lockee, Streamlined ID).”

After reviewing classmates’ definition, research and further thoughts I updated my definition of EDTECH.  
Educational Technology is the field  that utilizes technologies and disciplines to expand understanding and performance (replicate, problem-solve, and create). I interpret technology as a systematic way to study the art of learning and using tools to help achieve learning objectives.  Disciplines are specialized fields which contribute and support education.  

Educational Technology. (1973). Introduction to educational technology. Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Educational Technology Publications.


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