Module 01: The Field of Educational Technology
1. How might you define Educational Technology?
Educational Technology can be very broadly defined to mean anything from training people in the use of technology (The President's Educational Technology Initiative) to the use of technology to train people - including all of the factors that impact this spectrum of activities. However, in the context of this program, the latter portion of that spectrum would be the primary focus. As such Educational Technology can be defined as an interrelated series of disciplines that involve the use of a variety of technologies to design, produce, manage and evaluate training, instructional and performance programs and curricula. As an academic discipline, it would also encompass research about these areas.
2. What is the relationship among educational, instructional and performance technologies? How are they similar? How do they differ?
Educational Technology, Instructional Technology and Performance Technology all seek to improve human performance and all utilize systematic and defined processes to accomplish this goal. All disciplines seek to eliminate the gap between expectations for performance with the actual performance. All three technologies start with analysis of the situation and a clear definition of performance and expectations. Many in and out of the field use the terms interchangeably, but reserve use of each for the different arena they are applied in—education, business, the military, and government. We propose that the fields and use of the terms are slightly different in their focus, application and methods. Our description follows.
Educational Technology encompasses the total range of processes, systems, tools, technologies, resources and strategies to improve performance through learning and training solutions. The focus is on increased knowledge and improved skills through training, instruction and learning. Educational Technology, as well as the other disciplines, follows a systematic process to achieve its goals. The process with the acronym ADDIE—analysis, design, development, implementation and evaluation—is executed by effective project management. Educational technology also involves the overall management of the learning process as well as the delivery methods, techniques and systems employed. In many cases practitioners use educational technology to designate activities in the educational arena—schools (K-12) and colleges.
3. What does the "Technology" refer to in Educational Technology and Performance Technology? Can you be an educational technologist and not work with computers or electronics?
When we speak of the “Technology” component of Educational and Performance Technology we refer to the use of tools and a body of knowledge applied in a systematic and integrated process to improve performance, learning and achievement. The variety and range of tools employed includes computers and electronics but also books, manuals, film, media, multi-media, and even paper and pencil. These tools are used to analyze problems, design, develop and implement solutions as well as to evaluate and measure results. Instructional technologists and educational technologists use computers and electronics to pursue their professions. Frankly, it’s hard to imagine anyone in today’s world doing their job or pursuing their profession without using them, but one can still be an educational or performance technologist without using either.
4. Educational Technology is used in a variety of sectors in our society: K-12 schools, universities, government, public service organizations, corporations. Name some specific examples of Educational Technology in action within these various sectors.
5. What are some basic job skills common to the variety of careers in which educational technologists may find themselves?
The skills rated as most valuable to an aspiring educational technologist are simpler than might first be conceived. Three of the six responses to the surveys submitted to six IT professionals listed good customer service (people) skills--the ability to listen, communicate, and 'getting along' with people as the most valuable skill. Additional skills listed by these same respondents included:
The remaining, yet important, skills were:
In an effort to be even more concise, personal skills were summarized when these same instructional technologists were asked to provide five adjectives to effectively describe an Educational Technologist. Multiple responses included the adjectives knowledgeable (3), creative (2), dedicated (2), and persistent (2). Other adjectives included hard working, caring, friendly, professional, flexible, systematic, systemic, willing, assistive, responsible, motivational, interesting, focused, and problem-solver (Ducey, 2003), (Greene, 2003), (LaBello, 2003).
Good customer service skills are important for the profession. You must be patient and understanding of faculty since many times, they know what they want, but cannot express it in technical terms, or are able to create the applications themselves. Without good people skills, you are going to turn people away from using the technologies(Greene 2003).
Good writing skills are essential. Writing in clear and compelling ways will enable the educational technologists to be successful. The use of solid communication skills when convey thoughts and ideas are important.
Working in interdisciplinary teams is the norm. Organizing information and presenting it in a way that is easy to understand is what many educational technologists do on a daily basis.
According to Daryl LaBello, an educational technologist has to be the renaissance person of this century.
SDSU provides an online self-assessment to determine if being an Educational Technologists is for you.
6. What kinds of products and services do educational technologists produce in their various jobs?
Educational Technologists produce different products from simple graphic banners for a web-based course to full sets of training materials. Some produce articles and white papers on emerging technologies for upper management. While others conduct faculty workshops.
During an informational interview process, three practicing professionals in the field of Educational Technology gave the following answers to the question listed above:
In one qualifying statement made by Greene (2003) appropriately pointed out the fact that necessary skills for an Educational Technologist might be totally dependent upon the needs or wants for the employing institution. He felt that it was more important to have an overall idea how software or multimedia development takes place. Individuals could learn a specific application program once they obtained a position and understood the intent of the program within the college, university, or corporation. By contrast, Ducey (2003) felt that the most important skill would be to stay on top of the latest technologies (i.e. to stay up to date).
7. Based on your team's experiences, what are the different careers paths you bring to the educational technology field?
8. Describe emergent career opportunities for educational technologists.
and Development Manager
9. What are the personal and professional attributes or character traits that contribute to success in this field? (For instance, what qualities would it take to produce an entire instructional product from start to finish?)
ideal trainer works long and cheap,
Educational Technologists need to stay immersed in some aspect of the technology while keeping abreast of educational theories. It is essential that they be self-starters. Learning on your own will be a factor to any job in technology. Being open to new ideas, co-workers ideas, client ideas and overall other ways of thinking is key. Multi-tasking is the only way to get projects done. It is essential to do this without going nutty.
Becoming territorial or closed off with a project is not a good idea. The ability to work as a team member is an important asset. Educational Technologists need to be able to deal professionally and courteously with all types of people. The following are just few of the important attributes that contribute to success in this field:
The above data were derived from an informational interview from the following Educational Technologists.
10. What are some of the current trends that may affect the study and/or practice of educational technology?
Educational Technology will certainly grow and change based on the many advances in technology, the Internet, knowledge management, networking, communications, collaborative software, authoring tools, conferencing capabilities and knowledge of emergent (grass roots) learning methods. Increasing corporate recognition of the difference between training and educational technology and the value of performance technology could lead to increased demand for educational technologists.
As we all have greater access to computers, networks and fast Internet connections, we imagine distance learning methods, tools and strategies will become more powerful and more effective. Wireless networking and the growth of ubiquitous wireless networks gives greater access to information and instruction. Conferencing improvements will improve delivery and access to instructional programs. Groupware and collaborative software will facilitate development and also delivery of instruction. In addition increased use of knowledge management systems will affect Educational Technology and Performance Technology. They will allow better access to information, greater sharing of tacit and working knowledge and shorter “learning curves” in places that effectively employ those strategies.
Reduced travel in all aspects of our society will affect how we deliver and receive instruction. The private and public sectors have already seen travel and offsite training budgets reduced. As this increases in the future it will impact the need and acceptance of distance learning and remote conferencing.
Research and knowledge gains in psychology and learning styles will also affect design, development and delivery of instruction. We already see new teaching methods and strategies based on current knowledge of learning styles and emotional intelligences. We believe that this understanding will fuel development and refinement of teaching and learning methods such as simulations, games and interactive learning environments.
Finally, we see the increased research and knowledge about human networks and emergent (grass roots) learning to have great affect on educational technology. We are just now codifying observations and information about how we learn from each other and how learning and subsequent organization of knowledge can be accumulated and aggregated from individual observations. This creates a bottom-up approach to learning and its organization rather than a top-down approach based on the current model of analysis, design and development, implementation and evaluation.
Educational Technology, its methods, knowledge base, growth and implementation will be greatly affected by trends in all these areas. We are still learning a great deal about learning—how we learn, how we deliver learning components and how we effectively transfer knowledge.
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