Tuesday, January 26, 2010

This week's readings

For class this week, we were required to read for articles that dealt with the definition of "Educational Technology." What I found interesting about these four articles was that they took the critiquing of the definition of Educational Technology from different perspectives. Overall, what the articles proposed was the need to solidify the definition of what Educational Technology is as well as come up with a better monkier in regards to what Instructional Designers "do" for a living. In other words, we need to call ourselves something different besides Instructional Designers in order for others to identify our skill sets better.

For example, in the article "Labels DO Matter! A Critique of AECT's Redefinition of the Field" by Patrick Lowenthal and Brent G. Wilson, the authors took on the perspective of recently graduated Educational Technology majors. They explained their struggle to find jobs or explain to others what their skill set is since the term "Educational Technology" is so loosely defined by the Education community. They also mention the struggle it is to explain to those what they do who aren't necessarily in Education but are in need of their skills such as the business sector, military, and medical fields. In addition, they state that most major job listings who are looking for those in Educational Technology use a variety of terms when posting jobs for instructional designers which only fuels the problem even more.

In the article "Wicked ID: Conceptual Framework for Considering Instructional Design," the author Katrin Becker defines Educational Technology as a wicked problem. What Katrin Becker means is that instructional design fails to often do is solve the problem in one step. Instead, instructional design only takes into consideration one particular problem in one type of environment with only one type of people it's solving the problem for, when in fact the problem often spans across different groups of people and environments, and often requires different solutions due to these factors. In comparison, a tame problem is something that can be easily solved in a few simple steps despite those involved. Overall, what I think Becker is trying to say is that the definition and concept of Instructional Design should be viewed in a more fluid sense and not view every problem as one type of problem.

Furthermore, Rocci Luppicini's article, "A Systems Definition of Educational Technology in Society," the author states that in the past Educational Technology was viewed as instruction through the use of visual media such as television and audio. However, now with the advent of computers and the rise of postmodernistic thought, Luppicini states that we need to take into consideration socio-environmental factors when looking at the system and designing instructional design modules for it. He also states that because of this new consideration, defining Educational Technology itself is somewhat including a more indepth analyzation of the System itself when designing for instruction.

Finally, I read the AECT article (or chapter?) on the current definition of Educational Technology and its need for an update. It also emphasizes the fact that Educational Technology is fluid and the current definition can only reflect the explanation of what EdTech is at that particular time. At the moment, the article suggested that we change many of the terms within the definition. For example, in the revised definition, which states

"Educational Technology is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources."

The author suggested the revised definition use the word "study" instead of the word "research" in the original version since the word study "implies a broader view of the many forms of inquiry" and "it makes an explicit commitment to ethical practice." In other words, using the word "research" places the field of educational technology in a narrow, cold view of instruction when defined.

Basically, what I got from all of these readings was that the term Educational Technology is constantly changing in definition, more so than other fields of study. The fact that Educational Technology is constantly changing and that society (mostly those from outside of the field) still have no clue what instructional designers are, calls for the fact that we as instructional designers need a more solid definition of what Educational Technology is. I often get this from friends, family members, or acquaintances who inquire about my academic background. When I say that I am getting my degree in Educational Technology they often say "oh so you are working with computers. Like IT right?" Much to my dismay I have to go into a really long definition on what Educational Technology is and sometimes I have to sit back and think about it because the actual definition of "Educational Technology" is not really defined well.

Although I found the articles interesting and related to the vexation the authors had about not having a solid definition of Educational Technology, it begs the question as to why we are reading it for this particular seminar class. Basically, what I see the class as, is a way to help ETEC PhD students with setting up a structure for completion of their dissertation, including choosing committee members, creating a schedule, forming a support group, etc… I do not understand how knowing the definition of Educational Technology would aid in this process. However, I am open to hearing from others who may beg to differ.

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