This topic is derived from module 1 in the definition of instructional technology where Cass Gentry (Gentry, C. (1995). Educational Technology: A Question of Meaning. In G. J. Anglin [Ed.], Instructional Technology: Past, Present, and Future, [Chapter 1]. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, pp. 1-10.), defines instructional technology as: "The systemic and systematic application of strategies and techniques derived from behavior and physical sciences concepts and other knowledge to the solution of instructional problems."
It is the last part of the definition “solution of the instructional problem” that the topic seeks to unravel, i.e. how do the instructional technologies work in order to solve the instructional problem? D. Randy Garrison and Terry Anderson (2003) states that in education, instructional technology is "the theory and practice of design, development, utilization, management, and evaluation of processes and resources for learning”. Therefore, there is a particular design which is developed, utilized, managed with an evaluation processes that aid in passing instructions.
Motivation of choosing this topic
Technological advancements in the world have infiltrated in all aspects of human life. In education, this has brought tremendous changes. This is what mainly comprises of the instructional technology. We see the machines, the computers, the softwares, the projectors, etc. but have we wondered how typical instructional technologies work? This is analyzed below by first by considering the technical part of it and then application in real world situation of teaching.
How the instructional technologies work depends on the definition that is been considered and the several parts or section that make it. An instructional technology design involves an analysis of the learners needs, determination of goals and objectives, creation of methods of evaluation of the learner’s achievement, selection of instructional strategies, training and evaluation of the training. Therefore, the instructional design shall be designed such that it captures the intended instructions in several ways. It can be visual, audio, audio-visual, or a combination of other modes of passing information. The captured instructions have to be in line with the intended behavioral outcomes. Therefore, the instructional technology aids in passing information or aiding in teaching based on the domains of cognitive, affective and psychomotor. When the above information is fully captured, a user-interface is developed which aids in the actual utilization of the whole design.
The user-interface so designed has to capture a list of activities that the learner has to follow in the processes of learning. The language used in the instructions depends on the level of the audience or learner targeted. For example, an instructional technology designed for early childhood education shall be different to those made for higher levels of education. This is to mean that a grade 4 instructional technology shall be different form a grade 12 instructional technology.
A delivery method is also provided in the user interface that guides the learner. This involves methods like tapes that can be listened to, handouts that may also be accompanied by a tape or an audio visual. At advanced level, the instructional technology could use such methods as video links, online practice rooms or simply virtual rooms where the learners can practice according to the instructions. There an instructional technology shall offer a wide range of delivery methods depending on the level and the subject been learnt and specifically depending on the set goals and objectives.
The instructional technology has a section of an evaluation. It is important to note that in any level learning, an evaluation is compulsory and instructional technology is no exception. An elaborate evaluation is thus provided in methods that could be fully technologically supported or semi-technological. What this mean is that, in some instances, the evaluation can be fully integrated with the instructions. For example, this can be in a form of questions after a certain learning activity with automatic answers after completion. This is simply called online tests. At other instances, the evaluation instructions may promote the learner to use a pen and paper to respond to the questions or perform certain activities like dancing; this is what can be considered to be semi-technological evaluation. However, it is important to note that this depend on the learning activity. Before the instructional technology is rolled out for usage, the designers evaluate it to ensure that it meets all the standards expected according to the target population.
How application in real life context is done
So far, the details provided above gives the general technological aspect on how instructional technology work. How does the instructional technology aid in actual learning context? For meaningful learning to take place, the instructional technology has to support knowledge construction. This includes representing the learners understanding of ideas and beliefs and hence be able to produce an organized multimedia knowledge. The instructional technology provides a platform for access of information that aids in the creation of knowledge and ideas that also shapes the belief systems of the leaner.
Instructional technology assists in simulation of actual real world problems, situations and contexts which could not be possible to try them in the real world, too expensive to initiate on monetary terms and time frame or could be past events (D. Jonassen, J. Howland, R.M. Marra, D. Crismond, 2008 edition, p. 5-10.). The instructional technology provides a platform where learners can learn at their own paces. This is mainly because it includes the materials are accessible to all learners even after the lesson. The learners are thus capable of self-teaching as the instructions are availed in the most appropriate language and attractiveness. This motivates the learners.
Principles that I can apply in teaching
I have to consider the entry behavior of the learners while prepare my lesson plans so as to ensure that the lesson is at par with the target level of understanding of the population. This ensures optimal learning. I also have to consider the language or the vocabulary in preparation. This shall ensure that here would be no ambiguity or unnecessary struggle for the learners. I also have to ensure that the lesson remains interesting to motivate the learners.
Contentious issue on instructional technology
The technological advancements are very rapid in the real world such that an instructional technology may be rendered obsolete in a few years’ time. Therefore, the overemphasis on its use has to be checked so as to ensure that the learners are not caught up in the mix. If not properly guided, instructional technology creates fantasy learning, i.e. the belief that the students have understood how to perform a certain task yet it is been done by machines.
The post-modern issues related to instructional design needs to be addressed. The opposition of the central authority which has persisted and is opposed by the post-modern views which advocate for a more individual needs based technology cannot be overlooked. A balance has to be established at some point. Teachers may fail to include instructional designs in their curriculum because many may not have been taught how to do it and thus, are simply ignorant.
What I have learnt
I have learnt that instructional technologies use softwares and hardware to aid in the delivery of instructions. During the making of such instructional technology, the target population is considered. The instructional technology has instruction part, activity part and evaluation part just like a normal teaching process. However, the instructional technology has to be moderated by teachers who explain the actual activities taking place since a machine may lack the human touch in passing instructions and teaching in general.
D. Randy Garrison and Terry Anderson (2003). E-Learning in the 21st Century: A Framework
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Meaningful Learning With Technology, by D. Jonassen, J. Howland, R.M. Marra, D. Crismond,
2008 edition, p. 5-10. Article found in http://www.education.com/reference/article/how-does-technology-facilitate-learning/?page=2
Bates A (1995). The Future of Learning, paper presented at the Minister's Forum on Adult
Learning, Edmonton, Alberta, November 30-December 1st. Retrived on January 24th, 2014 from http://media.sabda.org/alkitab-1/Pdfs/Bates-TheFutureOfLearning.pdf
Coopers & Lybrand, Institute of Education & Tavistock Institute (1996). Evaluation of the
Teaching and Learning Technology Programme. Report M21/96. Bristol: Higher Education Funding Council for Englang. Retrieved on January 24th 2014 from http://www.hefce.ac.uk/pubs/hefce/1996/m21_96.htm