In the first week, we were asked to read four articles. The first two, entitled Frameworks of Educational technology (Ely, 2008) and What Field Did You Say You Were In (Reiser, 2007), focused on defining the field of Educational/Instructional Technology.
I found these articles rather enlightening as the respective authors provided a bit of a history lesson with respect to not only how over the years the field has changed but, consequently, the naming as well. Reiser (2008) mentions how the field dates back to the early 1900s where the focus was on “instructional media – the physical means via which is instruction is presented to learners” (p.3). Instructional media can include various resources including audio, images and film. The irony about this is that even today, some people still equate the field with instructional media (Reiser, 2008, p.3).
However, over time (mainly during the 1960s and 70s), other views also came to light that looked beyond instructional media. Namely, ideas emerged that the field could also be thought of in terms of a process aimed at improving instruction (Reiser, 2008, p. 3). From the late 1970s and into the 90s, this view was taken a step further with the shift in paradigm focus from behavioral to cognitive and constructivist learning theories (Reiser, 2008, p. 5).
In 1994, the AECT offered a new formal definition for the field focusing on instructional technology. As Ely (2008) mentions, what’s nice about this definition is that it “builds on past definitions” (describing the process of the field), in addition to “adding contemporary interpretations and applications” (addressing instructional strategies) (p. 245).
In 2008, the AECT published yet another definition for the field, but this time describing educational technology. Although both educational and instructional technology have been used interchangeably in naming the field, the former seems to be more of an encompassing term describing “the use of technology in any aspect of the education enterprise”, whereas the latter is more specific focusing on the “use of strategies and communication media” in the “process of teaching and learning” (Ely, 2008, p.244).
Following these articles, the next two we read entitled Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants and Do They Really Think Differently (Prensky, 2001), discussed the evolving divide between “digital natives” and “digital immigrants”. To be quite honest, I found this article truly inspiring and a must-read for all those working in any facet of education/instruction. So many of the issues Prensky (2001) discusses is particularly why I decided to pursue a Master’s in this field.
According to Prensky (2001), “digital natives” refers to the students of today who “are all ‘native speakers’ of the digital language of computers, video games and the Internet (p.1). “Digital immigrants” refers to everyone else who was not “born into the digital world” but is trying to adopt the new means of technology (Prensky, 2001, pp. 1-2). Prensky (2001) states that these two groups, in essence, speak different languages (pre-digital vs. digital) and hence, have trouble communicating with each other (p. 2). In order to deal with this issue, it is necessary that we as educators/instructors “reconsider both our methodology and content” (Prensky, 2001, p. 3). Furthermore, the backing and support of administrators is also vital in order for this effort to catch on and succeed (Prensky, 2001, p. 6).
I can recall on numerous occasions during my time as an EFL instructor where teachers would complain about not being to connect with their students, criticizing them as being lazy and unintelligent. They had no hesitation in finding faults in their learners, but were not so willing to stop and evaluate their own teaching practices. I too suffered from this phenomenon early on in my teaching career, but soon got over it once I began to embrace technology use in the classroom. In order to engage students, we have to try and incorporate into our lessons what interests them - that is, technology. Although integrating technology does require additional work to be put in, I honestly believe the results are well worth it. Once teachers realize this, the learning experience will likely be more enjoyable on both sides of the fence (i.e. that of students and teachers).
Ely, D. (2008). Frameworks of educational technology. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39(2), 244-250. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2008.00810.x
Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon 9(5).
Prensky, M. (2001). Do they really think differently? On the Horizon 9(6).
Reiser, R. A. (2007). What field did you say you were in? In R. A. Reiser & Dempsey, J.V. (Eds.), Trends and issues in instructional design and technology. 2-9. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Pearson/Merrill Prentice Hall.