What is Educational Technology?

The definition of Educational Technology has changed through the years as learning processes, as a conceptual framework, as theory and practice and the latest as study and ethical practices of dealing with technological processes and resources.

Today Educational Technology or EdTech can be defined as the theory and practice of design, development, utilization, management and evaluation of processes and resources for learning, according to Seels & Richey.

What is the difference between Educational Technology and Instructional Technology?

Instructional Technology is the process of using technology for learning. It is the tool while educational technology is the procedure for using that tool.

Now that we know the definition of EdTech, let’s take a look at the types of Educational Technology.

1. Synchronous and Asynchronous

Synchronous learning is occurs real time, an example of which is instructor-led learning. Synchronous learning, the exchange of ideas and information amongst learners happens during the same time.

Examples are face-to-face instruction, chat rooms, webinars, etc where learners are working collaboratively and have synchronized learning.

Asynchronous learning is self-paced and allows the learners to interact and engage without being dependent on the other learners’ participation at the same time.

Examples of asynchronous learning are email, blogs, wіkis, and discussion boards, as well as web-supported textbooks, hypertext documents, audio, video courses, and social networking sites, and online courses that learners take at their own pace.

2. Linear Learning

Linear learning is when information is given in a linear and static manner, such as reading a book or computer-based training (CBT). CBT can include videos, animations, and audio clips to enhance the learning experience.

It typically has assessments at the end of the course to help determine the learner’s understanding of the topics discussed. The assessments are those that can be recognized and graded immediately by a computer such as multiple choice, or true or false questions.

3. Collaborative Learning

Computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) uses instructional methods designed to encourage or require students to work together on learning tasks. Web 2.0 social tools in the classroom allows learners and teachers to work collaboratively, discuss ideas, and share information.

Let’s now take a look at the key components of EdTech according to Januszewski in Educational technology: the development of a concept.

1. Appropriate tools, techniques, or processes

The use of appropriate tools, techniques, or processes is much more likely to result in the outcomes that educators want to achieve.

2. Facilitate the application of senses, memory, and cognition

Using different media and different technology to engage the different senses makes the learning experience more effective. Examples are using videos, the Internet, games, etc.

3. Enhance teaching practices

Technology should also provide assistance and support to instructors during the teaching and learning process. The use of technology should enhance the manner by which teachers instruct, mentor, collaborate and engage with their learners.

4. Improve learning outcomes

If no improvements are made with the adoption of new technology, then there is no point to utilizing any technology.

5. Considered Implementation

Implementation should be “considered” means additionally that there is an assessment loop built into the process. It effectiveness of the technology used must be assessed in order for the effective technology to be repeated and the ineffective technology to be discarded

So why should teachers and learners use EdTech?

Let’s take a look at the benefits of EdTech.
1. Improves engagement
2. Improves knowledge retention
3. Encourages individual learning
4. Encourages collaboration
5. Time efficient
6. Helps teachers track learner’s progress
7. Makes distance learning possible
8. Information can be accessed anytime
9. Unlimited source of information
10. Teaches necessary skills for the future

A few disadvantages are:
1. Unnecessary distractions
2. Inappropriate access
3. Not everything on the Internet is true
4. Cost implications to keep information up to date
5. May hinder basic skills

No matter what anyone says, technology in learning is here to stay. What is important is choosing the correct type of technology to support your learning objectives and enhance the learning experience for both the learners and the teachers.

Assessment and evaluation of technology used in learning will help determine the effectiveness of the technology. This will allow for continuous improvement that will lead to better, more interactive, more collaborative learning experiences.

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