Elements of Educational Technology
Looking through the lens of technology, education has become a kaleidoscope of emerging options. Like Ben and Jerry in their creative approach to a chocolate and vanilla world, educators today have moved beyond black/white boards to a world of possibility. Educational technology is a vast and open field of study. According to AECT, it focuses on facilitating learning and improvement by “creating, using, and managing appropriate technology.” (Definition, p. 1). Looking closely at current technology resources and how they impact or affect the process of learning, I will discuss the use and management of specific technology for the purpose of education. In writing, I seek to answer questions surrounding; (1) How technology can improve teaching (2) How technology can improve learning, and finally; (3) How to improve educational technology to impact future learners.
As an educator, I have always been interested in finding ways to teach more effectively through the use of technology. Whether on the slopes teaching skiing or in a physical classroom, technology like a camcorder revealing one’s form or information on snow/steepness readily available on the internet, helped relay information that improved my feedback and instruction to those under my tutelage. Today, teaching via technology takes place in many more ways. Communicating with a student or parent in a virtual medium such as Skype or e-mail can be effective when traditional “face to face” methods of conferencing are not possible. Using Skype to correspond with a student due to extraneous circumstances, I was able to give the feedback necessary to allow future improvement. Without leaving our homes, we were able to connect via the internet and communicate effectively. Technology allowed my teaching to go virtual, imparting education outside the four walls of the classroom. Utilizing this technology, one can open doors to connect with students or parents whose schedules do not allow a traditional classroom conference.
Technology can greatly impact teaching, but teachers need proper training for maximum results. Within a constant state of flux, educational technology can only be harnessed with an emphasis on training. New technology inevitably brings new options along with altercations that must be worked through. “Research seeks to resolve problems by investigating solutions and those attempts lead to new practice and therefore new problems and questions.” (Definition, p. 2) Teachers and problem solving go hand in hand, but in revising lessons and processes, teaching subsequently improves. Like Henry Ford and his Model T, the original classic and impressive technology of the first car has been continually tweaked and updated to now include many features only present in the minds of former science fiction writers! Likewise, educational technology originates and evolves. From black boards to dry erase boards, we now have smart boards. Improved technology enhances teaching through the systematic process of making lessons more clear, interesting, and interactive.
As educational technology continues to improve teaching, learning has also been impacted. No longer do students merely sit and soak in a lesson via lecture. Educational technology allows all learners today the ability to grow—especially those kinesthetic learners who thrive in a more hands on interactive environment. Using visual technology in the classroom such as short Youtube clips or powerpoint presentations can be highly engaging. In addition, having students plug into a computer language or math program that has one hearing, seeing and interacting can give teachers the ability to expedite learner results. Technology in short bursts appears more effective today: “Effectiveness often implies efficiency, that is, the results are accomplished with the least wasted time, effort and expense.” (Definition,p. 6)
Another key to improving learning with technology is a more collaborative approach between teacher and student. “With the recent paradigm shift in learning theories has come a greater recognition of the learner’s role as a constructor as opposed to a recipient of knowledge. With this recognition of learner responsibility has come a role for technology that is more facilitative then controlling. (Definition, p. 2) Learners are being immersed into learning communities where technology becomes the format for success. The traditional teacher takes on a role of facilitator, serving as a guide or encouraging coach. In this educational environment, the facilitator needs to create a place that is learner centered and meets the needs of the individual student. Using innovation to create a safe and effective learning environment has become a vital aspect of the facilitator’s job and directly ties into the improvement of learners.
Strategic use of and training in educational technology is vital for today’s classroom. Building an innovative environment within the classroom is no longer an option, but necessary. In order to effectively use technology video clips or virtual conferencing, I must be knowledgeable and able to implement these into my lessons or classroom. Learners today use technology daily outside the classroom and are ready to utilize more within their educational environments. By creating lessons that implement technology, I will improve their desire and ability to learn. Using multi-media approaches to learning, I can enhance learning through interesting displays and interactive formats. As a facilitator, I can get my students excited about education through the use of technology. Being an effective teacher today requires an understanding not only of learners’ needs and lesson plans, but of how to channel the tools of technology for educational benefit. The AECT believes that “for a field to have any claim on public support it must be able to make a credible case for offering some public benefit. It must provide a superior way to accomplish some worthy goal” (Definition, p. 6). I believe that educational technology is a field today that warrants public support. It has become a pervasive component not only of our society, but also a necessary one in imparting knowledge within our children’s classrooms.
Definition: Definitions and Terminology Committee of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology, fromhttp://edtech.mrooms.org/file.php/1/edtech501/articles/ER5861X_C001.pdf
Raley, S. (2000, February 1). The Mirror of ERISED: Exploring the Field Archives. Allegheny College: Webpub. Retrieved September 12, 2011, fromhttp://webpub.allegheny.edu/student/c/crosbya/weblog/exploring_the_field/
Reiser, R, A. (2001). A History of Instructional Design and Technology: Part I: A History of Instructional Media. Educational Technology Research. and Development, 49(21), 57 – 67.