Educational Technology _ Instructional Technology – Where do I Fit?

            In reading this course readings, it become evident terms ‘education technology’ (ET) and ‘instructional technology’ (IT) are evolving. My first reaction was “I will know it when I see it”, but this casual observation remark is simplistic and naïve. The question asked is which term (ET or IT) do I consider myself part of?

             Before arguing or opposing one term over the other, it is important to recognize what bias and prejudices influence my thinking and decision.

             From a historical view, Seels and Richey (1994) says the process of providing a formal definition requires reexamination of the terms from historical perspective. How have the terms evolved and matured? In what contexts are, the terms explained and applied? What forces shape ET & IT role?

             Gentry offers a historical overview, interpreting the term technology, describing its educational role, and defining the term. Gentry concludes that the definition depends on the project focus and project context and situation. (In Anglin, (1995) p. 9) Role becomes critical. What is the role of ET and IT? Does ET and IT develop by chance? What are our expectations?

             What influences role? According to Finn (1953) theory and research, intellectual technique, practical application, training and certification, enforced ethics and association and communication are influences. (In Seels & Richey (1994), chapter 5, p. 115) ET and IT role evolves, matures and progress across project context and time. For me a new question develops for what purpose is the role of ET and IT.

             The emergence of definition ET & IT according to Finn (1953) “must be broad enough to encompass the many interests and specialties present in the field.” This is crucial because common identification is necessary for community adoption. Community is analogous to schools, curriculum, instructors, students and activities. Schools and curriculum, teachers and students are system components lumped into the term education. Education is too broad. John Dewey (personally a favorite of mine) defined education as “the enterprise of supplying the conditions, which ensure growth, or adequacy of life, irrespective of age.” (In Democracy and Education, p. 61) For me more questions emerge, what is learning? What is instruction? How does learning occur? Is learning by chance or is it designed?

             Gagne moves beyond Dewey educational definition. Robert Gagne (1916-2002) offered the educational and academic community theories about conditions of learning, principles of information processing and models of cognitive learning. Gagne states “The purpose of instruction is to help people learn.” “Instruction is a set of events embedded in purposeful activities that facilitate learning.” Teaching tasks include selecting materials, assessing, managing, monitoring, facilitating and serving as a resource. Instruction involves using a range of activities to engage the learner. Instruction involves understanding and the practice of the principles, design, vision, assessment, monitoring, and evaluation. Instruction is a process role. Instruction becomes a process of ‘intention’ as opposed to ‘incidental’ learning.” Learning has stated desired and meaningful learning outcomes. The learning outcomes may be information learning or problem solving skills (Gagne’ 2005, p 1- 3)

             Gagne recognizes that learning is a complex process influenced by many variables. Gagne advocated that instruction is designed, using models that are applicable at many levels. Instructional design requires involving learners. There are sub components that requiring, matching the desired learning outcomes, instructional methods, and learner assessment. Finally, different learning outcomes require different methods. The conditions to learning must be equal the appropriate outcomes.

             I subscribe to Seels & Richie (1994) definition, “Instructional Technology is the theory and practice of design, development, utilization, management and evaluation of process and resources for learning.” (p. 1). This definition fits Gagne’ principles of learning and instruction design.

             For me, educational Technology represents the concept Gentry described as large scale involving long periods of time.” (p. 9). Education Technology is too general, implies there are specific skills and tools required. Instructional technology personalized the learning process.


About frankohara

Instructional Design Technology student, enrolled at West Virginia University. Currently enrolled in Course work instructed by Ugar Kale, Ph.D, at West Virginia University. Current, Fall 2010, course work is IDT Issues and Trends.
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