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. 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, 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.
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 in 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. 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.
A classic example of an Educational Psychology text is Bloom's 1956 book, Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. 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." The transformation of educational technology from a cottage industry to a profession is discussed by Shurville, Browne, and Whitaker.
As an academic discipline, the study of educational technology prepares individuals by helping them acquire a deeper understanding and mastery of:
- learning resources: messages, people, materials, devices, techniques and settings;
- processes for analyzing and devising solutions to those problems through research, theory, design, production, evaluation, utilization;
- the processes involved in organization and personnel management.
The focus is on effective processes to facilitate learning using technologies and new millenium strategies, and understanding of technology on learners and organizations.