Chapter 1. Technology and Instructional Technology 3
Technology and Instructional Technology
Definition of
tech·nol·o·gy \
nä-lə-jē\ n, pl -gies [Gk technologia systematic treatment
of an art, fr. tekhnē art, skill + -o- + -logia -logy]
1: a: the practical application of knowledge esp. in a particular area:
ENGINEERING <medical ~>
b: a capability given by the practical application of knowledge
<a car’s fuel saving ~>
2: a manner of accomplishing a task esp. using technical processes,
methods, or knowledge <new technologies for information storage>
3: the specialized aspects of a particular field of endeavor
<educational ~> -tech·nol·o·gist \-jist\ n
(Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 2003, p. 1283)
What is
Ask people on the streets what instructional technology means to them. Thei
responses will vary, but their definitions are likely to be associated with
either media devices or design processes that make things better.
One of the early definitions of instructional technology was published by the
Commission on Instructional Technology in 1970:
Instructional technology can be defined in two ways. In its more
familiar sense, it means the media born of the communications
revolution which can be used for instructional purposes alongside
the teacher, textbook, and blackboard. . . . The second and less
familiar definition of instructional technology goes beyond any
particular medium or device. In this sense, instructional technology
is more than the sum of its parts. It is a systematic way of
designing, carrying out, and evaluating the total process of learning
and teaching in terms of specific objectives, based on research in
human learning and communication, and employing a combination
of human and nonhuman resources to bring about more effective
instruction. (p. 21)
A simple way to understand instructional technology is to think of it as
means to an end.
First, instructional technology is end driven. Technology is goal oriented; it
aims at achieving a pre-set objective, such as solving problems or improving
outcomes. Instructional technology is also goal oriented. Its main objective is
to solve problems associated with human learning and instructional processes
in order to produce better learning outcomes.
4 Foundations of Instructional and Performance Technology
Second, instructional technology looks for effective methods to accomplish
the goal. The methods can be derived from physical science concepts o
behavioral science concepts. Although technology is often associated with
the physical science concepts, the core concepts of instructional technolog
come from behavioral science concepts, as Saettler (1971) points out below:
The most important aspect of this concept of instructional
technology concerns the application of scientific knowledge
to provide a conceptual basis and methodology for the design,
development, and evaluation of instruction and instructional
products for the purpose of improving the related components of
the educational process. (p. 308)
Along with the step-by-step, systematic methodology for the design, develop-
ment, and evaluation of instruction, a systemic approach should also be
employed in order to understand the interacting relationships among different
elements in the instructional system.
By putting it all together, Gentry (1995) offers a definition of instructional
the systemic and systematic application of strategies and tech-
niques derived from behavior[al] and physical science concepts and
other knowledge to the solution of instructional problems (p. 7)
Instructional technologists are professionals who possess expert knowledge
in systemically and systematically selecting and utilizing strategies an
techniques derived from behavioral and physical science concepts when
attempting to solve problems associated with human learning and teaching.
of instructional
This chapter provides a brief overview of instructional technology as a fiel
by addressing the following topics:
When instructional technology as a field was developed
When instructional technologists as professionals became recognized
Where and how instructional technology started to be used
Why instructional technology is needed
What knowledge instructional technologists apply
How instructional technologists use such knowledge
Readers are encouraged to keep these topics in mind throughout this book.

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