Educational technology

Educational technology, sometimes termed EdTech, is the study and ethical practice of facilitating e-learning, which is the learning and improving performance by creating, using and managing appropriate technological processes and resources.[1] The term educational technology is often associated with, and encompasses, instructional theory and learning theory. While 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,[2] educational technology includes other systems used in the process of developing human capability. Educational technology includes, but is not limited to, software, hardware, as well as Internet applications, such as wikis and blogs, and activities. But there is still debate on what these terms mean.[3]

Technology in education is most simply and comfortably defined as an array of tools that might prove helpful in advancing student learning and may be measured on how and why individuals behave. Educational Technology relies on a broad definition of the word "technology." Technology can refer to material objects of use to humanity, such as machines or hardware, but it can also encompass broader themes, including systems, methods of organization, and techniques. Some modern tools include but are not limited to overhead projectors, laptop computers, and calculators. Newer tools such as smartphones and games (both online and offline) are beginning to draw serious attention for their learning potential. Media psychology is the field of study that applies theories of human behavior to educational technology.

Consider the Handbook of Human Performance Technology.[4] The word technology for the sister fields of Educational and Human Performance Technology means "applied science." In other words, any valid and reliable process or procedure that is derived from basic research using the "scientific method" is considered a "technology." Educational or Human Performance Technology may be based purely on algorithmic or heuristic processes, but neither necessarily implies physical technology. The word technology comes from the Greek "techne" which means craft or art. Another word, "technique," with the same origin, also may be used when considering the field Educational Technology. So Educational Technology may be extended to include the techniques of the educator.[citation needed]

A classic example of an Educational Psychology text is Bloom's 1956 book, Taxonomy of Educational Objectives.[5] Bloom's Taxonomy is helpful when designing learning activities to keep in mind what is expected of—and what are the learning goals for—learners. However, Bloom's work does not explicitly deal with educational technology per se and is more concerned with pedagogical strategies.

According to some, an Educational Technologist is someone who transforms basic educational and psychological research into an evidence-based applied science (or a technology) of learning or instruction. Educational Technologists typically have a graduate degree (Master's, Doctorate, Ph.D., or D.Phil.) in a field related to educational psychology, educational media, experimental psychology, cognitive psychology or, more purely, in the fields of Educational, Instructional or Human Performance Technology or Instructional Systems Design. But few of those listed below as theorists would ever use the term "educational technologist" as a term to describe themselves, preferring terms such as "educator."[citation needed] The transformation of educational technology from a cottage industry to a profession is discussed by Shurville, Browne, and Whitaker.[6]


Smartphone programmed for primary school mathematics learning, part of the "Mati Tec" program sponsored by the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, Mexico City.
Teacher showing primary school students how to work the program at a primary school in Santa Fe, Mexico City.

Educational technology could be traced back to the emergence of very early tools, e.g., paintings on cave walls. But usually its history starts with the introduction of educational films (1900s) or Sidney Pressey's mechanical teaching machines in the 1920s.

The first large scale usage of new technologies can be traced to US WWII training of soldiers through training films and other mediated materials. Today, presentation-based technology, based on the idea that people can learn through aural and visual reception, exists in many forms, e.g., streaming audio and video, or PowerPoint presentations with voice-over. Another interesting invention of the 1940s was hypertext, i.e., V. Bush's memex.

The 1950s led to two major, still popular designs. Skinners work led to "programmed instruction" focusing on the formulation of behavioral objectives, breaking instructional content into small units and rewarding correct responses early and often. Advocating a mastery approach to learning based on his taxonomy of intellectual behaviors, Bloom endorsed instructional techniques that varied both instruction and time according to learner requirements. Models based on these designs were usually referred to as computer-based training" (CBT), Computer-aided instruction or computer-assisted instruction (CAI) in the 1970s through the 1990s. In a more simplified form they correspond to today's "e-contents" that often form the core of "e-learning" set-ups, sometimes also referred to as web-based training (WBT) or e-instruction. The course designer divides learning contents into smaller chunks of text augmented with graphics and multimedia presentation. Frequent Multiple Choice questions with immediate feedback are added for self-assessment and guidance. Such e-contents can rely on standards defined by IMS, ADL/SCORM and IEEE.

The 1980s and 1990s produced a variety of schools that can be put under the umbrella of the label Computer-based learning (CBL). Frequently based on constructivist and cognitivist learning theories, these environments focused on teaching both abstract and domain-specific problem solving. Preferred technologies were micro-worlds (computer environments where learners could explore and build), simulations (computer environments where learner can play with parameters of dynamic systems) and hypertext.

Digitized communication and networking in education started in the mid 80s and became popular by the mid-90's, in particular through the World-Wide Web (WWW), eMail and Forums. There is a difference between two major forms of online learning. The earlier type, based on either Computer Based Training (CBT) or Computer-based learning (CBL), focused on the interaction between the student and computer drills plus tutorials on one hand or micro-worlds and simulations on the other. Both can be delivered today over the WWW. Today, the prevailing paradigm in the regular school system is Computer-mediated communication (CMC), where the primary form of interaction is between students and instructors, mediated by the computer. CBT/CBL usually means individualized (self-study) learning, while CMC involves teacher/tutor facilitation and requires scenarization of flexible learning activities. In addition, modern ICT provides education with tools for sustaining learning communities and associated knowledge management tasks. It also provides tools for student and curriculum management.

In addition to classroom enhancement, learning technologies also play a major role in full-time distance teaching. While most quality offers still rely on paper, videos and occasional CBT/CBL materials, there is increased use of e-tutoring through forums, instant messaging, video-conferencing etc. Courses addressed to smaller groups frequently use blended or hybrid designs that mix presence courses (usually in the beginning and at the end of a module) with distance activities and use various pedagogical styles (e.g., drill & practise, exercises, projects, etc.).

The 2000s emergence of multiple mobile and ubiquitous technologies gave a new impulse to situated learning theories favoring learning-in-context scenarios. Some literature uses the concept of integrated learning to describe blended learning scenarios that integrate both school and authentic (e.g., workplace) settings.

Students are now growing up in a digital age where they have constant exposure to a variety of media.[7]

Theories and practicesEdit

Three main theoretical schools or philosophical frameworks have been present in the educational technology literature. These are Behaviorism, Cognitivism and Constructivism. Each of these schools of thought are still present in today's literature but have evolved as the Psychology literature has evolved.


This theoretical framework was developed in the early 20th century with the animal learning experiments of Ivan Pavlov, Edward Thorndike, Edward C. Tolman, Clark L. Hull, B.F. Skinner and many others. Many psychologists used these theories to describe and experiment that is parallel to human learning. While still very useful this philosophy of learning has lost favor with many educators.

Skinner's contributionEdit

B.F. Skinner wrote extensively on improvements of teaching based on his functional analysis of Verbal Behavior[8] and wrote "The Technology of Teaching",[9] an attempt to dispel the myths underlying contemporary education as well as promote his system he called programmed instruction. Ogden Lindsley also developed the Celeration learning system similarly based on behavior analysis but quite different from Keller's and Skinner's models.


Cognitive science has changed the way educators view learning. Since the very early beginning of the Cognitive Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, learning theory has undergone a great deal of change. Much of the empirical framework of Behaviorism was retained even though a new paradigm had begun. Cognitive theories look beyond behavior to explain brain-based learning. Cognitivists consider how human memory works to promote learning.

After memory theories like the Atkinson-Shiffrin memory model and Baddeley's Working memory model were established as a theoretical framework in Cognitive Psychology, new cognitive frameworks of learning began to emerge during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. It is important to note that Computer Science and Information Technology have had a major influence on Cognitive Science theory. The Cognitive concepts of working memory (formerly known as short term memory) and long term memory have been facilitated by research and technology from the field of Computer Science. Another major influence on the field of Cognitive Science is Noam Chomsky. Today researchers are concentrating on topics like Cognitive load and Information Processing Theory. In addition, psychology as applied to media is easily measured in studying behavior. The area of media psychology is both cognative and affective and is central to understanding educational technology.


Constructivism is a learning theory of educational philosophy that many educators began to consider in the 1990s. One of the primary tenets of this philosophy is that learners construct their own meaning from new information, as they interact with reality or others with different perspectives.

Constructivist learning environments require students to use their prior knowledge and experiences to formulate new, related, and/or adaptive concepts in learning. Under this framework the role of the teacher becomes that of a facilitator, providing guidance so that learners can construct their own knowledge. Constructivist educators must make sure that the prior learning experiences are appropriate and related to the concepts being taught. Jonassen (1997) suggests "well-structured" learning environments are useful for novice learners and that "ill-structured" environments are only useful for more advanced learners. Educators utilizing technology when teaching with a constructivist perspective should choose technologies that reinforce prior learning perhaps in a problem-solving environment.

Instructional technique and technologiesEdit

“Children and adult people are growing up in a vastly changing context. No aspect of their lives is untouched by the digital era which is transforming how they live, relate and learn”[10] Some examples of these changes in the classroom include: Problem Based Learning, Project-based Learning, and Inquiry-based learning. Together they are active learning educational technologies used to facilitate learning. Technology which includes physical and process applied science can be incorporated into project, problem, inquiry-based learning as they all have a similar educational philosophy. All three are student centered, ideally involving real-world scenarios in which students are actively engaged in critical thinking activities. The process that students are encouraged to employ (as long as it is based on empirical research) is considered to be a technology. Classic examples of technologies used by teachers and Educational Technologists include Bloom's Taxonomy and Instructional Design.[11]


This is an area where new thinkers are coming to the forefront everyday. Many of the ideas spread from theorists, researchers, and experts through their blogs. Extensive lists of educational bloggers by area of interest are available at Steve Hargadon's "SupportBloggers" site or at the "movingforward" wiki started by Scott McLeod.[12] Many of these blogs are recognized by their peers each year through the edublogger awards.[13] Web 2.0 technologies have led to a huge increase in the amount of information available on this topic and the number of educators formally and informally discussing it. Most listed below have been around for more than a decade, however, and few new thinkers mentioned above are listed here.


Educational technology is intended to improve education for the 21st century learner. Students today are considered "Digital Natives" who were born and raised in a digital environment and inherently think different because of this exposure to technology.[15] Some of the claimed benefits of incorporating technology into the classroom are listed below:

  • Easy-to-access course materials. Instructors can post their course material or important information on a course website, which means students can study at a time and location they prefer and can obtain the study material very quickly.[16]
  • Student motivation. According to James Kulik, who studies the effectiveness of computers used for instruction, students usually learn more in less time when receiving computer-based instruction and they like classes more and develop more positive attitudes toward computers in computer-based classes.[17] Teachers must be aware of their students' motivators in order to successfully implement technology into the classroom.[18] Students are more motivated to learn when they are interested in the subject matter, which can be enhanced by using technologies in the classroom and targeting the need for screens and digital material [15] that they have been stimulated by outside of the classroom.
  • More opportunities for extended learning. According to study completed in 2010, 70.3% of American family households have access to the internet.[19] According to Canadian Radio Television and Telecommunications Commission Canada, 79% of homes have access to the internet.[20] This allows students to access course material at home and engage with the numerous online resources available to them. Students can use their home computers and internet to conduct research, participate in social media, email, play educational games and stream videos.

--> Using online resources such as Khan Academy or TED Talks can help students spend more time on specific aspects of what they may be learning in school, but at home. These online resources have added the opportunity to take learning outside of the classroom and into any atmosphere that has an internet connection. These online lessons allow for students who might need extra help to understand materials outside of the classroom. These tutorials can focus on small concepts of large ideas taught in class, or the other way around. Schools like MIT have even made their course materials free online so that anybody can access them. Although there are still some aspects of a classroom setting that are missed by using these resources, they are still helpful tools to add additional support to the already existing educational system.

  • Wide participation. Learning material can be used for long distance learning and are accessible to a wider audience.[21]
  • Improved student writing. It is convenient for students to edit their written work on word processors, which can, in turn, improve the quality of their writing. According to some studies, the students are better at critiquing and editing written work that is exchanged over a computer network with students they know.[16]
  • Differentiated Instruction. Educational technology provides the means to focus on active student participation and to present differentiated questioning strategies. It broadens individualized instruction and promotes the development of personalized learning plans in some computer programs available to teachers. Students are encouraged to use multimedia components and to incorporate the knowledge they gained in creative ways.[22] This allows some students to individually progress from using low ordered skills gained from drill and practice activities, to higher level thinking through applying concepts creatively and creating simulations.[23] In some cases, the ability to make educational technology individualized may aid in targeting and accommodating different learning styles and levels.

Overall, the use of internet in education has had a positive impact on students, educators, as well as the educational system as a whole. Effective technologies use many evidence-based strategies (e.g., adaptive content, frequent testing, immediate feedback, etc.), as do effective teachers.[24] It is important for teachers to embrace technology in order to gain these benefits so they can address the needs of their digital natives [25]

  • "Additional Benefits":
  • The Internet itself has unlocked a world of opportunity for students. Information and ideas that were previously out of reach are a click away. Students of all ages can connect, share, and learn on a global scale.
  • Using computers or other forms of technology can give students practice on core content and skills while the teacher can work with others, conduct assessments, or perform other tasks.[24]
  • Using technology in the classroom can allow teachers' to effectively organize and present lessons. Multimedia presentations can make the material more meaningful and engaging.
  • "“Technology’s impact in schools has been significant, advancing how students learn, how teachers teach and how efficiently and effectively educational services can be delivered,” said Carolyn April, director, industry analysis, CompTIA.” With emerging technologies such as tablets and netbooks, interactive whiteboards and wireless solutions gaining ground in the classroom, the reliance on IT by the education market will only grow in the years ahead.”[26]
  • Studies completed in "computer intensive" settings found increases in student centre, cooperative and higher order learning, students writing skills, problem solving, and using technology.[27] In addition, positive attitudes toward technology as a learning tool by parents, students and teachers are also improved.

Social NetworkingEdit

Social networking sites are virtual communities for people interested in a particular subject or just to "hang out" together. Members communicate by voice, chat, instant message, video conference, and blogs, and the service typically provides a way for members to contact friends of other members.[28]

In a study conducted by the National School Boards Association (2007), it was reported that 96% of students with online access have used social networking technologies, and more than 50% talk online specifically about schoolwork. These statistics support the likelihood of being able to bring these technologies into our classrooms and find successful teaching methods to employ their use in an educational setting. Social networking inherently encourages collaboration and engagement. This is meaningful to teachers who are trying to find ways to involve every student in something that is personally engaging. For the teacher, social networking provides professional development by introducing them a discovery of the learning potential for themselves, finding other educators who are using such technologies in their classrooms, and then connecting with those educators who automatically provide a virtual support community.[29] Social networking can also be used as a motivational tool to promote self-efficacy amongst students.  In  a  study  by  Bowers-Campbell (2008)  Facebook  was  used  as  an  academic motivation tool for students in a developmental reading course.[30] The connection between SNSs and higher education is strong, particularly with Facebook. Initially introduced only for users who had a college or university e-mail address, Facebook expanded later to the general public (Junco and Mastrodicasa, 2007), and traditional-aged college students (ages eighteen to twenty-four) specifically use Facebook more than MySpace or other SNSs (Salaway and others, 2007).[31] We live in an age of digital technology where information is available at any time. The rationale behind the use of social networks as a tool for professional learning includes the idea that the Internet is this generation's defining technology for literacy (Coiro & Dobler,2007), and preservice and inservice teachers will utilize popular media such as Facebook. Facebook provides one link where multiple organizations can be accessed simultaneously. As professional information is posted through feeds on Facebook, group members may respond and interact with other members, just as users can socially interact with their friends on Facebook.[32]

Student interaction is at the core of constructivist learning environments and Social Net-working Sites provide a platform for building collaborative learning communities. By their very nature they are relationship-centred and promote shared experiences. With the emphasis on user-generated-content, some experts are concerned about the traditional roles of scholarly expertise and the reliability of digital content. Students still have to be educated and assessed within a framework that adheres to strict guidelines of quality. Every student has his or her own learning requirements, and a Web 2.0  educational  framework  provides  enough resources, learning styles, communication tools and flexibility to accommodate this diversity.[33]


Although technology in the classroom does have many benefits, there are clear drawbacks as well. Limited access to sufficient quantities of a technology, lack of training, the extra time required for the implementations of technology, and the apprehension associated with assessing the effectiveness of technology in the classroom are just a few of the reasons that technology is often not used extensively in the classroom. To understand educational technology one must also understand theories in human behavior as behavior is affected by technology. Media Psychology is the study of media, technology and how and why individuals, groups and societies behave the way they do. The first Ph.D program with a concentration in media psychology was started in 2002 at Fielding Graduate University by Bernard Luskin.[34] The Media Psychology division of APA, division 46 has a focus on media psychology. Media and the family is another emerging area affected by rapidly changing educational technology.[34] There are many benefits of using technology in the education system, however there are also negative aspects.

Technology base educational videos and games are being integrated into the lives and classrooms of new generations. These videos and games are meant to be used as tools to help growing minds develop, and to increase knowledge and awareness. Videos such as Baby Einsteins line of infant DVDs are a topic of conflicting interest, according to the University of Washington study of infant vocabulary is slipping due to educational baby DVDs.

Published in the Journal of Pediatrics, a 2007 University of Washington study on the vocabulary of babies surveyed over 1,000 parents in Washington and Minnesota. The study found that for every one hour that babies 8–16 months of age watched DVDs and Videos they knew 6-8 fewer of 90 common baby words than the babies that did not watch them. Andrew Meltzoff, Ph.D, a surveyor in this study states that the result makes sense, that if the baby's 'alert time' is spent in front of DVDs and TV, instead of with people speaking, the babies are not going to get the same linguistic experience. Dr. Dimitri Chistakis, another surveyor reported that the evidence is mounting that baby DVDs are of no value and may be harmful.

Electronic devices such as cellphones and computers facilitate rapid access to a constant stream of sources, each of which may receive cursory attention. Michel Rich, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and executive director of the center on Media and Child Health in Boston, said of the digital generation, "Their brains are rewarded not for staying on task, but for jumping to the next thing, and the side effects could linger: the worry is we're raising a generation of kids in front of screens whose brains are going to be wired differently."[citation needed] In addition, poorly designed technologies tend to produce low test scores and negative reactions from students.[citation needed] Many students who are at high risk for school failure have the potential to learn; but their academic achievement in the core areas of reading, mathematics and writing falls far short of their potential. There is growing evidence that the academic difficulties experienced by these students is cumulative in nature, and the gap between achievement and potential grows from childhood into adolescence. These young adults tend to drop out of school more frequently than do students without these difficulties, and they experience higher levels of unemployment and underemployment. As a group, they face a significant risk for lifelong problems.[35] ccc "Students have always faced distractions and time-wasters. But computers and cellphones, and the they offer, pose a profound new challenge to focusing and learning. Researchers say the lure of these technologies, while it affects adults too, is particularly powerful for young people. The risk, they say, is that developing brains can become more easily habituated than adult brains to constantly switching tasks — and less able to sustain attention."[36]

Digital DivideEdit

One of the greatest barriers[citation needed] of integrating technology into the school system deals with the digital divide. The concept of the digital divide was originally defined as a gap between those who have access to digital technologies and those who do not.[37] This access is associated with age, gender, education, income, ethnicity, and geography.[37] The first deals with the onset of integrating technology into the curriculum and the gap between the digital haves and have nots.[38] In most cases, this form of the digital divide means that those who have access to a computer and the Internet are considered a digital have, while on the other hand, those who do not are considered a digital have not. In today’s society, this is still a significant barrier to implementing technology into the curriculum because the socio-economic status of a school, and its students, will impact whether resources can be purchased and implemented in the school system. Schools that are able to provide technology within the classroom are able to expose their students to a new means of learning, while the students in lower socio-economic schools may miss out on these experiences.

As more and more people have gone online and started using the Internet for an increasing number of activities, researchers have begun to reconsider the notion of the digital divide.[37] Some scholars offered a redefined understanding by seeing the digital divide as a complex and dynamic phenomenon that is essentially multifaced and includes technical access (the physical availability of technology) and social access (the mix of professional knowledge, economic resources, and technical skills required for effectual use of technology).[37] This means that even if schools and students have access to technology, the ways in which teachers use and introduce it is significant to consider. This form of the digital divide is yet another barrier because it also goes hand-in-hand with the resources the schools have and the training teachers receive. If a teacher, for example, is not well equipped and confident in utilizing a form of technology, those students will miss out on gaining the valuable skills required for today’s society.

Another factor that plays into the digital divide, which makes it difficult to implement technology into the curriculum, is the generational digital divide. Herrington[39] recognizes that the generational divide is interpreted to mean that people on one side of the gap, including the youth, have more access and a greater ability to use new technologies than those on the other side like the adults who were born before the advent of the Internet. The generational digital divide is a common barrier because it challenges teachers to keep up with the ever-changing technology in the classroom. Even extending beyond the classroom, by the time an individual “adopts a technology, a new one is developed, marketed, and requires a new adoption cycle”.[40] Students, who have grown up in a digital environment, may be well acquainted with the on-going process of new technological innovation but may be lacking the guidance they need in order to use these technologies effectively. From the teacher’s perspective, this process could be an intimidating experience because something as foreign as the computer and Internet must first be learned and then taught to the students in a classroom setting. It is difficult to formulate a curriculum, which aims to integrate technology into the classroom, when the decision-makers are still in the process of learning about it themselves.

Teacher TrainingEdit

In a study to investigate how teacher preparation programs are preparing future K-12 educators to effectively use technology to enhance learning, the results demonstrated a gap in understanding the appropriate uses of technology in a learning environment.[41] Similar to learning a new task or trade, special training is vital to ensuring the effective integration of classroom technology. The current school curriculum tends to guide teachers in training students to be autonomous problem solvers.[38] This has become a significant barrier to effective training because the traditional methods of teaching have clashed with what is now expected in the present workplace. Today’s students in the workplace are increasingly being asked to work in teams, drawing on different sets of expertise, and collaborating to solve problem.[38] These experiences are not highly centered on in the traditional classroom, but are twenty-first century skills that can be attained through the incorporation and engagement with technology.[42] Changes in instruction and use of technology can also promote a higher level of learning among students with different types of intelligence.[43] Please see the presentation by Ted Robinson where he discusses the ways in which schools kill creativity.[44] Therefore since technology is not the end goal of education, but rather a means by which it can be accomplished, educators must have a good grasp of the technology being used and its advantages over more traditional methods. If there is a lack in either of these areas, technology will be seen as a hindrance and not a benefit to the goals of teaching.

Another major issue arises because of the evolving nature of technology. Teachers may find themselves acting as perpetual novices when it comes to learning about technology. This is because technology, including the Internet and its range of applications, is always in a state of change and teachers must attempt to keep current.[45] Marc Prensky discusses the idea that teachers are digital immigrants, and students are digital natives. Teachers must continuously work at learning this new technological language, whereas students were born into retrieving information, problem solving, and communicating with this technology.[46] The ways in which teachers are taught to use technology is also outdated because the primary focus of training is on computer literacy, rather than the deeper, more essential understanding and mastery of technology for information processing, communication, and problem solving.[45] New resources have to be designed and distributed whenever the technological platform has been changed. However, finding quality materials to support classroom objectives after such changes is often difficult even after they exist in sufficient quantity and teachers must design these resources on their own. The study by Harris[45] notes that the use of random Professional Development days is not adequate enough in order to foster the much-needed skills required to teach and apply technology in the classroom. “We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist..using technologies that haven’t been invented…in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet”.[47] Learning, therefore, becomes and on-going process, which takes time and a strong commitment among the community of educators.[45]

Teacher training faces another drawback when it comes to one’s mindset on the integration of technology into the curriculum. The generational divide might also lead to a generational bias, whereby teachers do not feel the need to change the traditional education system because it has been successful in the past.[38] This does not necessarily mean it is the right way to teach for the current and future generations. Considering the fact that today’s students are constantly exposed to the impacts of the digital era, learning styles, and the methods of collecting information has evolved. To illustrate this concept Jenkins[38] states, “students often feel locked out of the worlds described in their textbooks through the depersonalized and abstract prose used to describe them,” whereas games can construct worlds for players to move through and have some stake in the events unfolding. Even though technology can provide a more personalized, yet collaborative, and creative, yet informative, approach to learning, it may be difficult to motivate the use of these contemporary approaches among teachers who have been in the field for a number of years.


Research has shown that there is a great deal of apprehension associated with assessing the effectiveness of technology in the classroom and its development of information-age skills. This is because information-age skills, also commonly referred to as twenty-first century literacies, are relatively new to the field of education.[48] According to the New Media Consortium, these include “the set of abilities and skills where aural, visual, and digital literacy overlap”.[38] Jenkins modifies this definition by acknowledging them as building on the foundation of traditional literacy, research skills, technical skills and critical-analysis skills taught in the classroom.[38]

Current school assessments are based on standardized tests and the ability to complete these uniform tests, regardless of one’s preferred learning style. Many factors play into this observation including the strong impact of time. By using technology and learning through discovery, teachers may feel that they are not able to cover the material needed to meet the requirements of the curriculum.[39] Therefore, the traditional style of teaching, including the lecturing in front of the class, and a “one-size-fits-all” approach to testing is common in today’s classrooms. This is a barrier because it prevents the full integration of technology into the curriculum, the ability to learn through inquiry, and the collaborative problem-solving skills, which prove to be essential traits needed in the twenty-first century.

Educational technology and the humanitiesEdit

Research from the Alberta Initiative for School Improvement (AISI)[49] indicates that inquiry and project-based approaches, combined with a focus on curriculum, effectively supports the infusion of educational technologies into the learning and teaching process.

The advancement of education through technologyEdit


In recent years, OpenCourseWare (OCW), an academic initiative that gives the public access to much of the same information used in undergraduate and graduate programs at institutions of higher education, has greatly improved the quality of educational material available for free on the Internet. The idea of OpenCourseWare gained prevalence in 2002 when MIT began distributing academic material from courses to the public for free.[50] Through the early 2000s, this idea began to gain popularity with other colleges and universities. As of 2008, there were close to 150 collegiate institutions that had operational OpenCourseWare programs, or were in the process of planning such programs.[51] These institutions include Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Michigan.[52] Such programs are an example of how technology can allow more people to have access to information and resources that have originally only been accessible to students at prestigious universities.

Over-the-Counter DataEdit

Advancements in the design of education technology tools that present data to education stakeholders, such as the student data system, have had a significant impact on education and students. For example, data systems’ capacity to assist data analysis is unprecedented and it is inadvisable to use data without the assistance of a data system.[53] To improve the accuracy of data analyses performed with the use of edtech, it is recommended these edtech tools adhere to a design approach called over-the-counter data (OTCD), which involves embedding labels, supplemental documentation, and a help system and making key package/display and content decisions.[54]

Technology in the classroomEdit

There are various types of technologies currently used in traditional classrooms. Among these are:

  • Computer in the classroom: Having a computer in the classroom is an asset to any teacher. With a computer in the classroom, teachers are able to demonstrate a new lesson, present new material, illustrate how to use new programs, and show new websites.[55]
  • Class website: An easy way to display your student's work is to create a web page designed for your class. Once a web page is designed, teachers can post homework assignments, student work, famous quotes, trivia games, and so much more. In today's society, children should know how to use the computer to navigate their way through a website, so why not give them one where they can be a published author? Just be careful, as most districts maintain strong policies to manage official websites for a school or classroom. Also, most school districts provide teacher webpages that can easily be viewed through the school district's website.
  • Class blogs and wikis: There are a variety of Web 2.0 tools that are currently being implemented in the classroom. Blogs allow for students to maintain a running dialogue. They work a tool for maintaining a journal of thoughts, ideas, and assignments, as well as encourage student comment and reflection. Wikis are more group focused to allow multiple members of the group to edit a single document and create a truly collaborative and carefully edited finished product.

Blogs allow the student to express their knowledge of the information learned in a way that they like. Blogging is something that students do for fun sometimes, so when they are assigned an assignment to do a blog they are eager to do it! If you are a teacher and need to find a way to get your students eager to learn, create, and inspire assign them a blog. They will love it.

  • Wireless classroom microphones: Noisy classrooms are a daily occurrence, and with the help of microphones, students are able to hear their teachers more clearly. Children learn better when they hear the teacher clearly. The benefit for teachers is that they no longer lose their voices at the end of the day.
  • Mobile devices: Mobile devices such as clickers or smartphone can be used to enhance the experience in the classroom by providing the possibility for professors to get feedback.[56] See also MLearning.

Mobile learning is how an individual learns using personal interactive technologies, such as a computer.A branch of mobile learning where students relate personal experiences to their learning is called performance support. More specifically, performance support is when a person relies on their personal technology for everyday tasks, such as using your cell phone to check the time or setting reminders in your phone.[57] Students would also agree that technology, in this case computers, allow for more control over their learning.[58] The reasons that make mobile learning appealing is how versatile computers can be. These devices can be available anytime and anywhere and can also enable access to the Internet and puts a surplus of information at the user’s fingertips. Some of the special characteristics that mobile learning presents to its users are portability, connectivity, speed, and accessibility. With benefits like these, mobile learning has the ability to offer more to education than has been available before.[57] With easy access to the Internet, classrooms are more flexible to adapt to surrounding students who have different needs.

  • Interactive Whiteboards: An interactive whiteboard that provides touch control of computer applications. These enhance the experience in the classroom by showing anything that can be on a computer screen. This not only aids in visual learning, but it is interactive so the students can draw, write, or manipulate images on the interactive whiteboard.
  • Digital video-on-demand: Replacement of hard copy videos (DVD, VHS) with digital video accessed from a central server (e.g. SAFARI Montage). Digital video eliminates the need for in-classroom hardware (players) and allows teachers and students to access video clips immediately by not utilizing the public Internet.
  • Online media: Streamed video websites can be used to enhance a classroom lesson (e.g. United Streaming, Teacher Tube, etc.)
  • Online study tools: Tools that motivate studying by making studying more fun or individualized for the student (e.g. Study Cocoa)
  • Digital Games: The field of educational games and serious games has been growing significantly over the last few years. The digital games are being provided as tools for the classroom and have a lot of positive feedback including higher motivation for students.[59]

There are many other tools being used depending on the local school board and funds available. These may include: digital cameras, video cameras, interactive whiteboard tools, document cameras, or LCD projectors.

  • Podcasts: Pod-casting is a relatively new invention that allows anybody to publish files to the Internet where individuals can subscribe and receive new files from people by a subscription. The primary benefit of pod-casting for educators is quite simple. It enables teachers to reach students through a medium that is both "cool" and a part of their daily lives. For a technology that only requires a computer, microphone and internet connection, pod-casting has the capacity of advancing a student’s education beyond the classroom. When students listen to the pod-casts of other students as well as their own, they can quickly demonstrate their capacities to identify and define "quality." This can be a great tool for learning and developing literacy inside and outside the classroom. Pod-casting can help sharpen students’ vocabulary, writing, editing, public speaking, and presentation skills. Students will also learn skills that will be valuable in the working world, such as communication, time management, and problem-solving.

Although pod-casts are a new phenomenon in classrooms, especially on college campuses, studies have shown the differences in effectiveness between a live lecture versus podcast are minor in terms of the education of the student.[60]


Societies concerned with educational technology include:

See alsoEdit


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Further readingEdit

Last modified on 15 April 2014, at 10:12