What is educational technology? Reflections on an evolving concept

I have never really given much thought to what educational technology is. I didn’t realize it was even a field until I began exploring online and mobile learning for a course I developed. The medical school I am affiliated with has one or two instructional designers but no educational technologists. There are only two on the whole UAB campus that I am aware of. The main technologies (besides the usual PowerPoint) we use at UAB in medical education are audience response systems, digital recording of lectures and OSCEs, and simulation. We have smart boards but I have never seen one used. Interestingly, they aren’t in any of the lecture areas but in small group study rooms. Our LMS has been developed in-house and is not sophisticated at all. The individual instructors have to learn to use any technology they incorporate into their teaching.

Most of the definition proposed by Januszewski and Molenda makes sense. Before I read this chapter I decided to devise my own definition and compare my initial concept of educational technology to theirs. I hadn’t consider the ethical or management aspects of the field. I also hadn’t considered how constructivist principles should have affected my initial concept of technology being a tool for information delivery. Rather technology is a tool for learning facilitation.

Edtech graphic definitionThe foundation of educational technology is the ethical creation, use, and management of technological processes and resources; the two pillars that support learning and performance improvement. The key functions of the educational technologist (creation, management, and use) are informed by research and reflective practice.

Reflective practice is probably more important that research in informing the educational decisions we make. What works in one educational setting and with one group of learners might not work in another. An educator must reflect upon which tool, tech based or not, is most appropriate to support/facilitate education. Many things I teach are best taught without the use of any technology at all.

I created this graphic using PowerPoint. I imported the picture from the link at the bottom of the graphic and then added simple text boxes.  I like to keep graphics as simple as possible so that the message doesn’t get lost in bling. I also have limited skills in graphic design. Hopefully, after this degree program I won’t be able to say that anymore.

 

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