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
, which was defined by the Greeks as a particular activity or kind of knowledge (Saettler, 1990). So in the Greek tradition
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