What is Instructional Technology?

The term instructional technology came in to being in the late 1960s and James D. Finn Professor at the University of California is considered to be proponent of this term. During those years the term in use was audio-visual media, which included radio and television films. But over a period of time new technologies came into being and found its place in education; and this trend is continuing. If you notice whenever a new technology arrives, people try to find its potential to deal with problems in education and teaching. Most of the technologies were imported to education. There is a view that no technology was developed to deal issues in education. Probably this is debatable issue.

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Watch the film to understand how new technologies have emerged and been integrated into education over a period of time (reference).

Instructional Technology: Looking Backward, Thinking Forward

Source: http://youtu.be/KdwEIi22Dv8 (Accessed on 4 March 2012)

When we hear or read the term instructional technology (IT) the first thing which probably comes to our mind will be that it constitutes two words viz. instruction and technology. You might have come across many terms in the literature and also in this course which has one common word "technology", including terms such as Information Technology, Information and Communication Technology, Teaching Technology. Each of these have very few differences between each other and, in fact, have more in common with each other than not. When we use the term instructional technology, it refers to the technology used for providing instruction. Can any technology be termed as instructional technology? Probably the answer is that not all technologies can be called as instructional technology. The reason for this will be clearer when we look at the definition of Instructional Technology.

According to the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) Definitions and Terminology Committee, instructional technology is: "The theory and practice of design, development, utilization, management, and evaluation of processes and resources for learning". In this you may notice that instructional technology involves the application of theory from different fields, developing learning materials and using it, and evaluating the outcome from the point of learner and professional teachers. Here the focus of technology is to enhance or facilitate learning.

When you read the definition of educational technology, on the face of it you may feel that both words are synonyms of one another. But when you look at the definitions critically, you will see that there are differences between the two. According to Razavi (2005) "Educational technology covers instructional technology. It includes instructional technology and the field study in human teaching and learning".

The focus of instructional technology is in using tools to facilitate student learning. It is not simply application of tools but beyond that as well. The tools that are being used by teachers for instruction are wide and varied, and range from writing boards to the iPad. It includes a range of tasks, such as designing and organising the teaching content in relation to the tools being used for effective learning. In case the teacher is not able to achieve the desired outcome then he/she may analyse, modify the design, reorganise the content, and change the tools by going through a number of steps similar to the steps followed in action research.

To use the appropriate technology to teach a concept or a lesson, a teacher has to plan the instruction of design an instruction which she/he would like to deliver. Teacher training programmes often teach certain steps and develop various skills so trainees are equipped to prepare lesson plans. A lesson plan will include the objectives to be achieved, strategy to be adopted, teaching aids to be used, learning activities to be provided to students and evaluation strategies and techniques to be adopted. Also some hands on experience will be incorporated so as to try out their plans under supervision. This follows all the steps that will be discussed in the in the next part covering the concept of instructional design.

Instructional design

To plan the delivery of instruction to the students in the actual classrooms or through distance learning, it is always necessary to follow certain systematic and sequential steps to achieve the desired goals .The process of doing this is known as instructional design. There are many models available for developing an instructional design. Here we will discuss one model, namely ADDIE Model. This acronym stands for the 5 phases contained in the model. These phases are:

  1. Analyse - This phase involves analysing the characteristics or profile of students, tasks to be learnt by students, the environment in which it is to be taught, and the goal to be achieved.
  2. Design - In this phase a teacher is required to develop instructional/learning objectives, choose the teaching strategy including the methods to be followed, choose the selection of technology tools and resources, and choose tools to assess the outcome which could be a questionnaire, check list, interview schedule, etc.
  3. Develop - Once the learning objectives and teaching strategy are decided in the context of the environment and student profile, the next phase will be to develop materials to be used, including the learning activities, and check for its appropriateness and feasibility through formative evaluation. This phase is important from the point of view of instructional technology. Here the teacher has to identify the technology and the media to suit the required content and context.
  4. Implement - In this phase the instruction is delivered to the intended target group, that is, the students using the materials and activities developed in the previous stage.
  5. Evaluate - This last phase assesses the outcome of the instruction and whether the intended instructional/learning objectives are achieved using the assessment tools developed. If the objectives are not achieved, then one may have to re-examine all the previous. This does not mean that the entire design has to be modified unless the instruction performed especially poorly in achieving the goal. The exercise of examining is meant to help in making the next lesson better. In this context it is necessary to note that no teacher can ever deliver a perfect lesson, but is constantly striving to get as close to perfection as possible. So it is always a learning process.

Another instructional design model is The Dick and Carey Systems Approach Model. The model was originally published in 1978 by Walter Dick and Lou Carey in their book entitled 'The Systematic Design of Instruction'. You may go through the following for details to gain a detailed understanding of various instructional design models.

If you have time and access, go through the video films listed below. The film is 2 minutes and 44 seconds. The film explains all the steps and some sub-steps in the process of instructional design.

IDevice Icon Additional references
  1. Instructional Design http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instructional_design#cite_note-DickCarey2005-29 (Accessed on 4 March 2012)
  2. Addie Instructional Design Process
Source: http://youtu.be/0vXegHDzrBg (Accessed on 4 March 2012)

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