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PAPER EdTechIntro

PAPER EdTechIntro

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Published by Glena Lang-ay
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education

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What is Educational Technology | Page 1 of 12
Defining Educational Technology for Classroom Learning
Dr. Marshall G. JonesWinthrop UniversityThere is a difference between Technology in Education and EducationalTechnology. The former describes the application of particular tools, such as computers,in the classroom. The latter is the name of a unique discipline and area of study. Thisarticle seeks to provide some basic definitions and to promote a better understanding of Educational Technology as a discipline in order that we can better apply it to classroomlearning.
Educational Technology or Instructional Technology
You may have heard of some terms, such as Educational Technology,Instructional Technology, or Instructional Design and Technology. All of these termsrefer to the same field, and they are used by many people interchangeably. Seels and Richey (1994) offered this definition of the field of Instructional Technology
 Instructional Technology is the theory and practice of design,development, utilization, management and evaluation of processesand resources for learning. (page 1)
I would argue that Seels and Richey’s definition is a good one for the field. However, for the purposes of discussing the relationship to classroom learning, I prefer the termEducational Technology because it promotes a broader understanding of the applicationof the field. The term Instructional Technology is often used to define an area of specialization within the field that deals with training, the systematic design of instruction, and the part of our field that is most often associated with professionaleducation as it is practiced in the military industrial complex. This is an importantcomponent of the field of Educational Technology and one that has tremendous influencein the development of our field. The term Instruction describes well what is done in thoseareas, namely training people to do particular tasks.But there is a difference between instruction and education. Instruction implies anarrow focus on a particular task, such as reciting your multiplication tables, locating thesubject and verb in a sentence, or balancing a particular chemical equation. This isactually a form of training someone to do a particular task. The goal of instruction istypically narrow and can often result in a visible manifestation of success. So if you aregoing to assess the results of instruction on locating the subject and verb in a sentenceyou can see a physical manifestation of it, such as underlining the subject and circling theverb. Instruction often provides quite logical assessment strategies: whatever the skill is,have them perform it. So the term instruction is associated more with task specificlearning. Education, however, is a broader term that implies life-long learning, and life-long learning is a goal associated more with traditional classroom environments than withtraining departments.
 
 
What is Educational Technology | Page 2 of 12
Education is a broad term that describes what happens during classroom learning.While we may have goals for our students during their education, it is often the case thatwhile everybody learns something, not everybody learns the same thing. This is becauselearning is an internal cognitive event and a complicated one at that. Learning involvesmany internal cognitive processes, and those cognitive processes are often not visible, or at least do not lend themselves easily to obvious physical manifestations. While wecannot see someone learn their multiplication tables, for example, we can see them provide the correct answers to the question, “What is six times seven?” Assessinginstruction is easy; assessing learning is more difficult. Learning is often a private,internal event for many people, and everyone does not learn the same way. In order for learning to occur, instruction often happens. We provide small, unique instructionalmodules to help people meet a larger educational goal. This is the nature of curriculum:one thing builds on another.So in the field of Educational Technology we use the broader term “EducationalTechnology” because it can absorb the more specific term Instructional Technology.Educational Technology is not the same thing as Technology in Education. Technologyin Education is one of the four perspective’s we will discuss later but for now the bestthing to do is to define the term Educational Technology.
What is Educational Technology?
Educational Technology is a field of study, much like history or literature is afield of study. Researchers and practitioners in the field of Educational Technology mayspecialize in particular areas, such as corporate training, k-12 education, or Internet based learning, much like an Historian might focus on American History or European History.But as with most fields, the field of Educational Technology holds some commonly held  beliefs. The most important one is that Technology is defined broadly. The termtechnology comes from the Greek word 
techné 
, which was defined by the Greeks as a particular activity or kind of knowledge (Saettler, 1990). So in the Greek tradition
techné 
 could be a physical device such as a computer or a video camera, but it could also be atype of knowledge, such as Gardner’s multiple intelligences (Smith, 2005). Society todaydefines technology much more narrowly.Technology today is most often used today to mean a device. In Education todaymost people think of technology almost exclusively as the computer. But technologycould be any tool that can be used to help promote human learning including videocameras, digital cameras, MP3 players, Portable Digital Assistants, and, of course, thecomputer. But in the field of Educational Technology we embrace the original definitionof technology to mean not only devices (we do love things that plug in), but also processes and strategies as well. To illustrate this point we offer up the classicEducational Technology question:
Upon its release, what technology had the greatest impact on Western Civilization?
Many people will respond that the printing press had the greatest impact. And while the printing press was important, you need to remember that when it was invented in 1450
 
 
What is Educational Technology | Page 3 of 12
not that many people could read. Other people will site the automobile, the airplane, thetelephone or the Internet. All of these were major and important inventions and technologies to be sure. But the technology that had the greatest impact on WesternCivilization was in fact three field crop rotation.Three field crop rotation, for those of you who aren’t agrarian by training or disposition, is when you divide up your fields and rotate what you plant in them. Plantingthe same crop year after year in the same field robs the land of its nutrients. Three field crop rotation in Feudal Europe, according to the Encarta Encyclopedia, meant that duringone year: “The arable land was divided into three fields: one sown in the autumn in wheator rye; a second sown in the spring in barley, rye, oats, beans, or peas; and the third leftfallow (Encarta, 2005).” The following year, the farmer would rotate the crops to adifferent field. The results were amazing (Saettler, 1990). Three field crop rotationdramatically increased the yield of the crops in Feudal Europe. There was more and agreater variety of foods to eat. Nutrition got better, and when that happened, birth ratessky rocketed. People spent less time worrying about food and could spend more timeengaged in other pursuits, such as art, music, and education.There are other examples of technology that do not include a device, such asraised field agriculture in the Peruvian Andes and the use of the assembly line in factories(Saettler, 1990). The point is that technology does not have to be something that plugs in.Technology can also be a set of processes that makes what you do better, easier or moreeffective. So as this applies to Educational Technology, we certainly DO value hard technologies, like video, computers, MP3 players and other devices and softwareapplications. But we also value soft technologies, such as theories and processes relatingto learning. It is important to remember that people in the field of EducationalTechnology do not see our selves as technicians. We see our selves as applied learningtheorists. We use technology in a manner that manifests appropriate learning theory to promote human learning.
A Brief and Sketchy History of Technology in the Classroom
Teachers and technology have always had a strained relationship. Teachers’reactions to the introduction of new technologies ranges from fear to skepticism. Reallythis is completely understandable because the history of technology in the classroomsuggests one very clear pattern: technology is going to replace the classroom teacher!Consider the following:
 In the early 1890’s Thomas Edison invents the motion picture. As film becomes readily available, more popular and easier to produce and distribute, educational experts begin to speculate.“Kids love movies,” they think. “We can put projectors in everyclassroom. Kids will sit for hours and watch movies. We can put all educational content on the films. It will revolutionize education. It will replace the classroom teacher!”
Of course, film did not replace the classroom teacher. But teachers are a bit worried by it.

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