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Definition of Educational Technology

June 6, 2012

This week I started EdTech504: Theoretical Foundations of Educational Technology. This is my first attempt at defining educational technology as I understand it.

I would define educational technology as the deliberate and holistic use of technological tools to enhance the educational experience.  Educational technology cannot take place in a vacuum apart from the planning and evaluation of educational activities. Educational technology should never be used for its own sake or for solely reasons of “novelty”. Educational technology must involve the planning, implementation and evaluation of technology and its impact on the learning process.

Historically, educational technology has meant considering the leading edge of technology in educational settings.However, I believe that we need to expand this understanding to include deliberate evaluation of all forms of technology which impact learning, even those that are considered “old”.  For example, in the case of a distance-education classroom, an etext is most likely the best format for an assigned book.  However, in a traditional classroom that expects intense reading of the book and comparison with other sources, a print book (the printed codex is also “technology”!) may be the best format. Deliberate analysis of context is necessary when determing which technology will most likely meet the goals of making instruction planned, efficient, and appealing (Smith, Ragan, 2002).

According to Valdez (2000), the purposes of educational technology have evolved from automated drills to data-driven assessment in the present day. This accountability reminds me of the similar push in the nursing field to base practice on the best medical evidence, rather than anecdote.

In my role as librarian, I can assist faculty as they assess their needs for educational technology in their classrooms, just as I help them to assess other resources. As we roll out ipads to faculty across campus, I am becoming more aware of the different ways that faculty use technology, even when they are in the same department. This deliberative process is crucial as they increase technology in the classroom.

Smith, P. L. & Ragan, T. J. (2005). Instructional design. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Valdez, G., et. al. (2000). Computer-based technology and learning: evolving uses and expectations (ERIC report no. ED816456). North Central Regional Educational Laboratory. Retrieved from:


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