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Educational technology is a wide field. Therefore, one can find many definitions,
some of which are conflicting. Educational technology can be considered either as
a design science or as a collection of different research interests addressing
fundamental issues of learning, teaching and social organization. Nevertheless,
there are a few features on which most researchers and practitioners might agree:
1. Use of technology is principled: Technology means the systematic
application of scientific knowledge to practical tasks. Therefore, educational
technology is based on theoretical knowledge drawn from different
disciplines (communication, education, psychology, sociology, philosophy,
artificial intelligence, computer science, etc.) plus experiential knowledge
drawn from educational practice.
2. Educational technology aims to improve education. Technology should
facilitate learning processes and increase performance of the educational
system(s) as it regards to effectiveness and/or efficiency.
In this short introduction we will try to give a preliminary definition of the field.
Other definitions
Educational technology is a very wide field. Therefore one can find many
definitions, some of which are conflicting.
Technology means the systematic application of scientific or other organized
knowledge to practical task. Therefore, educational technology is based
on theoretical knowledge from different disciplines (communication,
psychology, sociology, philosophy, artificial intelligence, computer science,
etc.) plus experiential knowledge from educational practise (Natalie
Educational technology is the use of technology to improve education. It is a
systematic, iterative process for designing instruction or training used to
improve performance. Educational technology is sometimes also known as
instructional technology or learning technology.
The study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving
performance by creating, using and managing appropriate technological
processes and resources. ([1])
A definition centered on its process: "A complex, integrated process
involving people, procedures, ideas, devices, and organization, for analyzing
problems, and devising, implementing, evaluating and managing solutions
to those problems, involved in all aspects of human learning" ([2])
"One definition of Educational Technology is that it is a systematic, iterative
process for designing instruction or training used to improve performance"
(Encyclopedia of Educational Technology)
Lachance et al. (1980:183) also focus on the the process idea: la
technologie ducative en tant que processus systmatique intgrant les
diverses fonctions du processus ducatif. Elle vise, d'une part, analyser
des problmes relis l'enseignement et/ou l'apprentissage et, d'autre
part, laborer, implanter et valuer des solutions ces problmes par le
dveloppement et l'exploitation des ressources ducatives (cited by
Lapointe, 1991).
Educational Technology (Information Technology) according to International
Technology Education Association
1. Teaches with technology (uses technology as a tool)
2. Primarily concerned with the narrow spectrum of information and
communication technologies
3. Primary goal: To enhance the teaching and learning process
Terminology issue: Educational technology is a field. A educational technology
refers to a technology that is particularly suited for education plus its usage/range
of applications maybe. See the educational technologies article and the category
educational technologies.
See also: Instructional technology which is sometimes used as a synonym,
sometimes not.
Incomplete definitions
Technology that is used as tool in education ... it's not just technology
Using multimedia technologies or audiovisual aids as a tool to enhance the
teaching and learning process. International Technology Education
Association ... it's not just multimedia
Field of education centered on the design and use of messages and
physical support conditioning pedagogical situations and learning process.
[3] ... it's not just conditioning
Goals of Educational Technology
Educational technology research always had an ambitious agenda. Sometimes it
only aims at increased efficiency or effectiveness of current practice, but frequently
it aims at pedagogical change. While it can be considered as a design science it
also addresses fundamental issues of learning, teaching and social organization
and therefore makes use of the full range of modern social science and life
sciences methodology.
"Technology provides us with powerful tools to try out different designs, so that
instead of theories of education, we may begin to develop a science of education.
But it cannot be an analytic science like physics or psychology; rather it must be a
design science more like aeronautics or artificial intelligence. For example, in
aeronautics the goal is to elucidate how different designs contribute to lift, drag
maneuverability, etc. Similarly, a design science of education must determine how
different designs of learning environments contribute to learning, cooperation,
motivation, etc." (Collins, 1992:24).
Technology is therefore both a tool and a catalyzer and it can become a medium
through which change can happen.
Educational technologists would not therefore consider the computer as just
another piece of equipment. If educational technology is concerned with thinking
carefully about teaching and learning, then a computer has a contribution to make
irrespective of its use as a means of implementation, for the design of computer-
based learning environments gives us a new perspective on the nature of teaching
and learning and indeed on general educational objectives. (O'Shea and Self:
1983: 59).
What is it about ?
Defining the field is both simple (e.g., see the definitions at the top) and difficult.
There are a several perspectives.
From an instructional design perspective
Besides being a field of research, Educational Technology is synonymous for {
Pedagogy, Learning, Instructional design, etc.} with technology and therefore
also an engineering discipline, a design science or an craft (whatever you prefer).
In order to define educational technology we may ask ourselves what constitutes
aninstructional design and what disciplines look at these constituents.

The instructional design space
Even from a pure "engineering perspective," it doesn't make much sense to talk
about Educational Technology just in terms of Instructional design models or
instructional design methods. An instructional designer also feels concerned by
more fundamental disciplines like general learning theory or pedagogical theory.
These theories provide interesting insights on issues like the relation between
learning type or learning level and appropriate pedagogic strategy, how affect and
motivation may influence the learning process, what multimedia design can learn
from theories on human information processing or cognitive load, why
metacognition and collaborative learning is important etc.