What is it?
What is Educational Technology?
Educational Technology is the use of technology as a method of instruction in an educational environment. It especially works well in blended or online collegiate courses. This is the level that this Web site was created for. (However, like the knowledgeable instructors you are, you are probably are already plotting how to make modifications to fit your needs if you do not currently teach at this level.)
What is the difference between Instructional Technology and Educational Technology? The two terms often get confused and swapped for one another. In my research I saw many definitions of the terms educational and instructional technologies. I concluded the following from my research:
1. Instructional Technology is the use of technology in an instructional environment outside of education. The use of these instructional technologies usually fit into an Instructional Design Process like ADDIE.
2. Educational Technology is the use of technology as a method of instruction in an educational environment.
Although each technology can be used for both situations, the purpose of the use is different. For example, you may use screencasting to demonstrate an example of a proper register check-out to an employee or you may use a screencast to demonstrate the use of a program to a student in a high school class. Most of the time the use of Instructional Technology in instruction is situation specific. For example, the employee won't be using that register outside of that job. Educational Technologies in an educational environment can carry on throughout the student's life. For example, if they see a tutorial on Photoshop, they can continue to use Photoshop in college and on the job.
Educational Technology in History
The new concept of developing quick and effective training materials came in WWII. How could thousands of military personal be trained quickly and effectively? Videos, slides, photographs and audio tapes were quickly developed and implemented into training materials. The Division of Aids for War Training was in charge of researching, designing, developing, promoting and implementing these new training films. Instructors in schools across the world noticed that these new technologies could be used in the classroom as well. Years later, instructors were using their own slide projectors, videos, audio clips and computers in class. Now, most students in the United States are in contact with a computer at school everyday. Educational Technology has grown rapidly in the past five years. It has gone from simple Drill and Practice to multimedia-filled Computer-Based Training in the classroom. Most recently, Internet-Based Training has boomed. It has greatly effected the growth of e-learning and the self-educated use of Social and Open-Source Software.
Educational Technology in E-Learning
What is E-Learning? E-Learning is Electronic Learning. E-learning can be performed in a blended environment, in which class takes place in the classroom and supplemental activities are posted on the Internet, or a complete environment, in which the entire learning process is done on the Internet. Although E-learning most commonly takes place at the collegiate level, it is now being introduced in high schools as well.
Most e-learning is facilitated through Learning Management Systems. Users can log on to an LMS and access their materials, communicate with peers, and view school announcements among many other things. Three common LMSs are Blackboard, ANGEL Learning and an Open-Source version, Moodle. This new form of learning has sparked a new approach to teaching. Courses are now designed using Modular Design, or accelerated bursts of information in modules. Learning Management Systems use a variety of Learning Objects, or a reusable units of instruction. These Learning Objects are usually housed in a Repository, in or out of the LMS. Because of the popular growth of LMSs, open source repositories are beginning to form on the World Wide Web.
Standards have been developed for implementing content in LMSs. These content standards include SCORM, or Sharable Content Object Reference Model, and IMS GLC, or Instructional Management Systems Global Learning Consortium. Both of these standards allow for information to be plugged into many different areas of an LMS without having to be duplicated or interpreted by the LMS. Essentially they are reference models for various products to communicate through.
Various forms of Communication Technologies have also been created to supplement the e-learning environment. These Communication Technologies include blogs, wikis, discussion boards, chat rooms, and e-mail. More recent additions include synchronous virtual worlds such as Second Life and synchronous Web conferencing tools like Elluminate. When used in an educational environment, these Communication Technologies are considered Educational Technologies.
Online assessments have also been created in LMSs to keep up with the virtual environment. These types of assessments are called e-assessments and include formative and summative options. Students may participate in assessments like taking a true/false quiz that provides feedback after each answer or an interactive Quiz Show Game.
E-learning provides many benefits to our world. It provides affordable education to anyone and reduces environmental impact since users can 'log on' anywhere. Because students are in control of their learning, motivation seems to rise. Students are not simply walking into a classroom to hear a lecture and take notes. Instead they are watching a lecture, participating in a chat, while taking notes, listening to student presentations and interacting with a collaborative white board. Imagine the possibilities....