ERIC Identifier: ED438807
Publication Date: 2000-03-00
Author: Ely, Donald P.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Information and Technology Syracuse NY.
The Field of Educational Technology: Update 2000. 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 learning.
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 the theory and practice of design, development,
utilization, management, and evaluation of processes and resources for learning.
complete definition, with its rationale, is presented in the AECT publication:
* Seels, B.B. & Richey, R.C. (1994). "Instructional technology: The
definition and domains of the field." Washington, DC: Association for
Educational Communications and Technology.
overview of the field can be found in:
* Gagne, R. M. (Ed.). (1987). "Instructional technology: Foundations."
Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
* Anglin, G. J. (Ed.). (1995). "Instructional technology: Past, present,
& future (2nd ed.)." Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited.
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 audiovisual 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.
* Saettler, P. E. (1990). "The evolution of American educational technology."
Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited. A briefer history may be found in:
* Reiser, R. (1987). "Instructional technology: A history. In
Robert M. Gagne (Ed.), Instructional technology: Foundations." (pp.11-48).
Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
3. WHAT IS A GOOD SOURCE OF RESEARCH FINDINGS?
* Thompson, A., Simonson, M., & Hargrave, C. (1996). "Educational
technology: A review of the research (2nd ed.)." Washington, DC: Association for
Educational Communications and Technology.
* Jonassen, D. H. (Ed.). (1996). Handbook of research for educational
communications and technology. New York: Macmillan Library Reference.
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:
* Richey, R. & Fields, D. (Eds.). (In Press). Instructional design
competencies: Essential and advanced professional standards. Syracuse, NY: ERIC
Clearinghouse on Information & Technology
In the area of instructional design, the paper by M. Tessmer and J. Wedman,
"The practice of instructional design: A survey of what designers do, don't do,
an why they don't do it" is helpful. (See ERIC document Reproduction Service No.
ED 404 712)
5. WHERE ARE EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGIST 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 PROSESSIONAL 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:
* Branch, R. M., & Minor, B. B. (Eds.). (1999). Graduate programs in
instructional technology (pp. 154-196) In Robert M. Branch & Mary Ann
Fitzgerald (Eds.). (1999). "Educational media and technology yearbook."
Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited.
* Johnson, J. K. (Ed.). (1995). "Degree curricula in educational
communications and technology: A descriptive directory (5thed.)." Washington,
DC: Association for Educational Communications and Technology.
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:
Educational Research Association (AERA)
17th Street, NW
Society for Training & Development (ASTD)
King Street, Box 1443
for Educational Communications & Technology (AECT)
North Stonelake Drive
Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI)
L Street NW, Suite 1250
Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)
for Applied Learning Technology (SALT)
Major organizations in other parts of the world include:
for Media & Technology in Education in Canada (AMTEC)
The Queensway, Suite 1318
Ontario M9C 5H5, Canada
for Learning Technology (ALT)
9. WHAT PUBLICATIONS DO EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGISTS READ?
The most frequently read journals include:
* "British Journal of Educational Technology," published by Blackwell
Publishers Limited, 108 Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 1FH, United Kingdom
* "Learning and Leading with Technology," published by ISTE. "Innovations in
Education and Training International," published by AETT, Kogan Page Ltd., 120
Pentonville Rd., London N1 9JN, United Kingdom
* "Educational Technology," published by Educational Technology Publications,
700 Palisade Avenue, Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632
* "Educational Technology Research and Development," published by AECT. 1800
North Stonelake Drive, Bloomington, IN 47404
* "Journal of Research on Computing in Education," published by ISTE. 1787
Agate Street, Eugene, OR 97403-1923
* "TechTrends," published by AECT. 1800 North Stonelake Drive, Bloomington,
10. WHAT ARE THE COMPREHENSIVE REFERENCES FOR THE FIELD?
There is one major encyclopedia:
* Plomp, T. & Ely, D. P. (Eds.). (1996). "The international encyclopedia
of educational technology (2nd ed.)." New York: Elsevier Science.
There is one major yearbook which offers articles on current issues and
extensive lists of people, organizations, literature, and other resources:
* Branch, R. M., & Fitzgerald, M. A. (Eds.). (2000). "Educational media
and technology yearbook." Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited.
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
* Heinich, R., Molenda, M., Russell, J., & Smaldino, S. (1999).
"Instructional media and technologies for learning (6th ed.)." New York:
* Dick, W., & Carey, L. (1996). "The systematic design of instruction
(4th ed.)." Harper Collins College. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman and Co.
12. WHERE CAN MORE SPECIFIC INFORMATION ABOUT EDUCATIONAL
TECHNOLOGY BE FOUND?
The ERIC (Educational Resources Information Center) system
sponsored by 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. Government Printing
Office and available in more than 3,500 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, Suite 700,
Phoenix, AZ 85012-3397. (800-279-6799)
ERIC Database. Computer searching of the ERIC database is available in many
academic and some public libraries. The ERIC database can also be searched over
the Internet and on some commercial networks. Specific questions can be
Clearinghouse on Information & Technology (ERIC/IT)
Skytop Road, Suite 160
University, Syracuse, NY 13244-5290
443-3640; (800) 464-9107
There are World Wide Web sites that focus on discussion of issues in
educational technology. The addresses are:
The ERIC/IT Clearinghouse has a publications list of monographs and digests
about current issues and developments in the field and publishes a newsletter,
ERIC/IT Update, twice each year. Both items are available without charge.