Educational Technology Definition

Like any good Biology teacher, I am going to get to my definition of educational technology through dissection of the term itself.

As far as I am concerned, “education” refers to any experience that leads to learning.  Whether that learning comes in the form of personal experience (“I never lick steak knives…anymore”) or experiences communicated from another person or source, knowledge that wasn’t present, is now there.  This is a very broad definition, but is a brief, but decent view is education.

Photo by Bernt RostadThe term “technology” will almost always evoke images of computers, smartphones, or other hardware with all the wonderful software that allows us to communicate with one another (or shoot birds at pigs).  Though not as exciting perhaps, the vast array of technologies from which our modern devices evolved, would have to be included as well.  But what about the microscope in my classroom.  Not a single wire or circuit in it.  Just glass, metal and some empty space.  It is however, an application of human knowledge that has allowed people to see aspects of the world that were not seen before.  So does that count as “technology”  or is that a tool?  If it is the latter, what about a telescope?  Same principle, just turned around.  What about the Hubble telescope?  Clearly, I make a jump from the type of telescope you see under a pirate’s arm to one that sits in space and peers into galaxies light years away, but somewhere along the way, we go from tool to technology.

Taking an approach in the reverse direction, it seems clear that a RSS feed that sends great articles that I read would count as technology.  That same job used to be done by newspapers exclusively.  As the output of a printing press, is the newspaper technology?  Same for a book?Photo by takomabibalot

The themes that seem to run through the quasi-definitions are communication and extension of the senses.

It is no wonder a definition is hard to pin down.  Educational seems too broad a term, so I am going to reduce it to “formalized instruction in a given field or fields”.  For the part of technology, I think that “devices or tools developed to enhance human senses, communication or experiences, real or virtual” will do for now.

That leaves me with a definition of educational technology that is : “The application of any device or tool developed to enhance human senses, communication or experiences, real or virtual, to formalized instruction in a given field or fields.”

Hmmm.  Leaves me wanting more.  I look forward to reading some of the other definitions.

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