Instructional Technology

In education, instructional technology is "the theory and practice of design, development, utilization, management, and evaluation of processes and resources for learning," according to the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) Definitions and Terminology Committee. Instructional technology is often referred to as a part of educational technology but the use of these terms has changed over the years. Educational technology is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using and managing appropriate technological processes and resources." Labels do matter! While instructional technology covers the processes and systems of learning and instruction, educational technology includes other systems used in the process of developing human capability.

The first use of instructional technology cannot be attributed to a specific person or time. Many histories of instructional technology start in the early 20th century, while others go back to the 17th century. This depends on the definition of instructional technology. Definitions that focus on a systems approach tend to reach further back in history, while those definitions focused on sensory devices are more recent.

The use of audio and visual instruction was boosted as a military response to the problems of a labor shortage during World War II in the United States. There was a definitive need to fill the factories with skilled labor. Instructional technology provided a methodology for training in a systematic and efficient manner.

With it came the use of highly structured manuals, instructional films, and standardized tests. Thomas Edison saw the value of instructional technology in films but did not formalize the science of instruction as the US military did so well.

Current status
Instructional technology is a growing field of study which uses technology as a means to solve educational challenges, both in the classroom and in distance learning environments. Moore (1989) argues that there are three types of learner interaction (learner-content, learner-instructor, and learner-learner interactions). In the years since Moore's article, several philosophical views have surfaced that relate Instructional technology to these types of interaction.

Most traditional researchers (those subscribing to Cognitivism) argue that learner-content interaction is perhaps the most important endeavor of Instructional technology. Some researchers (those subscribing to constructivism) argue that Moore's social interactions, (learner-instructor and learner-learner interactions), are as useful as learner-content interaction.

Razavi (2005) advocates the idea that educational technology covers instructional technology. It includes instructional technology and the field study in human teaching and learning. So educational technology is broader than instructional technology. Instructional technology itself consists of two major parts: one is teaching technology and the other is learning technology. In the education industry, the term "instructional technology" is frequently used interchangeably with "educational technology."

Human Performance Technology (HPT) has a focus on corporate environments. Learning sciences is a growing area of focus dealing with instructional techniques and learning theories.

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