ERIC Identifier: ED366330
Publication Date: 1993-12-00
Author: Ely, Donald P.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Information and Technology Syracuse NY.
The Field of Educational Technology: A Dozen Frequently Asked
Questions. ERIC Digest.
"Educational technology" is a term widely used in the field of education (and
other areas), but it is often used with different meanings. The word
"technology" is used by some to mean "hardware"-- the devices that deliver
information and serve as tools to accomplish a task--but those working in the
field use "technology" to refer to a systematic process of solving problems by
scientific means. Hence, educational technology properly refers to a particular
"approach" to achieving the ends of education. "Instructional technology" refers
to the use of such technological processes specifically for teaching and
Other terms, such as "instructional development" or "educational media,"
which refer to particular parts of the field, are also used by some to refer to
the field as a whole.
The purpose of this digest is to provide background information and sources
that help one to understand the concept of "educational technology." This digest
should serve as a "pathfinder" to relevant and timely publications that view the
field from a variety of perspectives.
1. WHAT IS EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY?
The most recent definition of the field (which uses the term "instructional
technology") has been published by the Association for Educational
Communications and Technology (AECT): "Instructional Technology is a field
dedicated to the theory and practice of design, development, utilization,
management and evaluation of processes and resources for learning."
The complete definition, with its rationale, is presented by AECT in its
Instructional Technology: The Definition and Domains of the Field. Washington,
DC: AECT, 1994.
An overview of the field can be found in:
Robert M. Gagne (Ed.), Instructional Technology: Foundations. Hillsdale, NJ:
Lawrence Erlbaum, 1987.
Gary J. Anglin (Ed.), Instructional Technology: Past, Present and Future.
Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 1991.
2. WHAT ARE THE ROOTS OF EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY?
The field is essentially a 20th century movement with the major developments
occurring during and immediately after World War II. What began with an emphasis
on audio-visual communications media gradually became focused on the systematic
development of teaching and learning procedures which were based in behavioral
psychology. Currently, major contributing fields are cognitive psychology,
social psychology, psychometrics, perception psychology, and management. The
basic history of the field was written by Saettler.
Paul E. Saettler. The Evolution of American Educational Technology. Englewood,
CO: Libraries Unlimited, 1990.
A briefer history may be found in:
Robert Reiser, "Instructional Technology: A History." In Robert M. Gagne (Ed.),
INSTRUCTIONAL TECHNOLOGY: FOUNDATIONS. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1987,
3. WHAT IS A GOOD SOURCE OF RESEARCH FINDINGS?
Ann Thompson, Michael Simonson and Constance Hargrave. Educational Technology: A
Review of the Research. Washington, DC: AECT, 1992.
Barbara Means et al. Using Technology To Support Education Reform. Washington,
DC: Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of
4. WHAT DO EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGISTS DO?
Most educational technologists carry out one or a few of the functions
performed in the field. For example, some design instruction, some produce
instructional materials, and others manage instructional computing services or
learning resources collections. The competencies for instructional development
specialists and material design and production specialists are published in:
International Board of Standards for Training, Performance and Instruction.
Instructor Competencies: The Standards (Vol. I). Batavia, IL: IBSTPI. 1993.
A comprehensive description of the functions of education technology
personnel is given in:
The Definition of Educational Technology. Washington, DC: AECT, 1977, pp. 55-79.
5. WHERE ARE EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGISTS EMPLOYED?
Until recently, most educational technologists were employed in schools and
colleges as directors of resource centers and developers of curriculum
materials. Many are still employed in such positions, but increasing numbers are
being employed by training agencies in business, industry, government, the
military, and the health professions. Colleges and universities employ
individuals who are involved in instructional improvement programs that use a
variety of technologies.
6. WHERE DO EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGISTS OBTAIN PROFESSIONAL EDUCATION?
Professional programs are offered mostly at the graduate level, although
there are a few two-year postsecondary programs in junior and community
colleges. Lists of programs are found in:
Donald P. Ely and Barbara B. Minor (Eds.), Educational Media and Technology
Yearbook 1993. Littleton, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 1993. In "Doctoral Programs
in Instructional Technology" and "Master's Degree and Six Year Programs in
Jenny K. Johnson (Ed.), Graduate Curricula in Educational Communications and
Technology (4th ed.) Washington, DC: AECT, 1989.
7. WHAT FIELDS OFFER GOOD PREPARATION FOR EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY?
Many people enter the field following an undergraduate program in teacher
education. More people come from the basic disciplines of the arts and
sciences--English, sociology, communications, psychology, the physical sciences,
and mathematics. Although there seldom are prerequisites for study in the field,
persons who have good preparation in psychology and mathematics seem to have a
head start. Formal course work and experience in human relations are helpful.
8. WHAT ARE THE MAJOR PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS?
In the United States, most educational technologists would be a member of one
or more of the following associations:
American Educational Research Association (AERA)
17th St., NW
American Society for Training & Development (ASTD)
Duke Street, Box 1443
Association for Educational Communications & Technology (AECT)
Vermont Avenue, Suite 820
National Society for Performance & Instruction (NSPI)
L Street NW, Suite 1250
International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)
Major organizations in other parts of the world include:
Association for Media & Technology in Education in Canada (AMTEC)
The Queensway, Suite 1318
Ontario M9C 5H5
Association for Educational & Training Technology (AETT)
for Continuing Education
EC1V 0HB, England
9. WHAT PUBLICATIONS DO EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGISTS READ?
A recent study of journals read by educational technologists listed over 50
journals in the field. The most frequently read journals include:
"British Journal of Educational Technology," published by the National Council
for Educational Technology, 3 Devonshire Street, London W1N 2BA, England.
"The Computing Teacher," published by ISTE.
"Educational and Training Technology International," published by Association
for Educational and Training Technology, Kogan Page Ltd., 120 Pentonville Rd.,
London N1 9JN, England.
"Educational Technology," published by Educational Technology Publications, 700
Palisade Avenue, Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632.
"Educational Technology Research and Development," published by AECT.
"Journal of Research on Computing in Education," published by ISTE.
"TechTrends," published by AECT.
10. WHAT ARE THE COMPREHENSIVE REFERENCES FOR THE FIELD?
There are two major encyclopedias:
Michael Eraut (Ed.). The International Encyclopedia of Educational Technology.
New York: Pergamon Press, 1989.
Derek Unwin and Ray McAleese (Eds.). The Encyclopedia of Educational Media
Communications and Technology (2nd ed.). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1988.
There are two major yearbooks which offer articles on current issues and
extensive lists of people, organizations, literature, and other resources:
Donald P. Ely and Barbara B. Minor (Eds.). Educational Media and Technology
Yearbook. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited.
Christopher W. Osborne (Ed.). International Yearbook of Educational and
Instructional Technology. London: Kogan Page, and Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press.
11. WHAT TEXTBOOKS ARE COMMONLY USED?
There are dozens of books used in educational technology courses. Selection
of titles depends upon the content of the course, the primary audience, and the
instructor's objectives. General textbooks that have been used in a variety of
Robert Heinrich, Michael Molenda, and James Russell. Instructional Media and the
New Technologies of Instruction, (4th ed.). New York: Macmillan, 1993.
Walter Dick and Lou Carey, The Systematic Design of Instruction, (3rd ed.).
Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman and Co., 1990.
12. WHERE CAN MORE SPECIFIC INFORMATION ABOUT EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY BE FOUND?
The ERIC (Educational Resources Information Center)
system sponsored by the Office of Educational Research and Improvement of the
U.S. Department of Education has been selecting documents on educational
technology since 1966 and indexing articles from key journals since 1969.
Abstracts of the documents can be found in:
Resources in Education, published monthly by the U.S.
Printing Office and available in more than
libraries throughout the world.
Selected articles which have been indexed from educational technology
journals are listed in:
"Current Index to Journals in Education," found in many libraries or available
from Oryx Press, 4041 North Central at Indian School Road, Phoenix, Arizona
Computer searching of ERIC is available in many academic and some public
libraries. Specific questions can be addressed to:
ERIC Clearinghouse on Information and Technology (ERIC/IT)
Center for Science and Technology