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Understanding the Use of Educational Technologies in Teaching and Learning

The 21st century is the century of science and technology and these developments

have influenced every walk of human life. The educational system has been touched by these advances. The rapid mechanization in the field of education has resulted in the introduction of technology in education.

The word “Education” itself is derived from the Latin word “Educatum”, which means  “to bring out”.  In the sense, the meaning of Education is to bring out the better qualities of the individual. The word  “Technology” is derived from the two Greek words namely Technic and Logia.

Technic‟-means “art or skill” and ‘Logia‟-means  “Science or Study”. So simplest meaning of  “Technology” is “Science of study of an art or skill.” “Technology is Knowledge organized for Production”, according to Sachs. It is the application of scientific knowledge to a practical purpose”. 

Educational technology is a broad field with many definitions and based on theoretical knowledge from different disciplines (communication, psychology, sociology, philosophy, artificial intelligence, computer science, etc.). Thus, different educationists have defined it in different ways. Kumar defines it as a systematic way of designing,

implementing and evaluating the total process of learning and teaching in terms of specific objectives, based on research in human learning and communication and employing a combination of human and non-human resources to bring about moreeffective instruction.

One of the prominent definitions is that offered by The Association for Educational Communications. It refers to it as the theory and practice of design, development, utilization, management, and evaluation of processes and resources for learning.

It is also regarded as the use of technology to improve education. Scott Addams views it as the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using and managing appropriate technological processes and resources. And the Encyclopedia of Educational Technology views it as a systematic, iterative process for designing instruction or training used to improve performance.

Educational technology as an academic field can be considered either as a design science or as a collection of different research interests addressing fundamental issues of learning, teaching and social organization. Educational technology as practice refers to any form of teaching and learning that makes use of technology.

Others have classified the concept under two broad perspectives-Technology of Education and Technology in Education. Technology of Education is concerned with the study of educational problems and the techniques to be used in solving the teaching-learning problems so that best results should be achieved. Technologies of planning, financing and administration are also covered under the concept of technology of education.

Technology in education on the other hand is a service concept referring to the use of equipment and machines for educational purposes.  It involves the use of a wide range of audio-visual equipment, hardware and sophisticated electronic devices like films, projectors, radio, television, tape recorder, teaching machines and computers etc.

The multifaceted nature of the concept has led Lumsdeine to classify it under three distinct types or approaches – Hardware Approach, Software Approach, and Systems Approach.

Education technology as hardware has its origin in physical sciences and engineering to education and training systems. It refers to the use of machines and other mechanical devices in the process of education. It mechanizes the process of teaching-learning through the use of teaching machines such as radio, television, tape recorder, video-tape, projectors, teaching machine, computers, etc.

These tools enable the teacher to deal with a larger group of students at the same time. The existence of these tools enable educationists to preserve knowledge in the form of books which are shelved in the libraries, tape recorders and films. Also, educators are able to impart knowledge to students through the use of these gadgets. Furthermore, educationists are able to undertake research by collecting and analyzing data. The teaching process is simply mechanized through the hardware approach.

The Software Approach (also termed as Instructional Technology or Teaching Technology or Behavioural Technology) originates from behavioural sciences and their applied aspects concerning psychology of learning.  Originating from the theories of learning, this approach refers to the technique of developing and utilizing software to the educational process.

It adopts a process-oriented technique for the production of suitable teaching-learning material, teaching learning strategies, evaluation techniques  for optimum results in the process of teaching and learning.

It is characterized by task analysis, writing precise objectives, selection of appropriate learning strategies, immediate reinforcement of responses and constant evaluation. It uses software tools such as word processing, database, spreadsheet, presentation, authoring, graphic, and others. Instructors need to be familiar with how to use them in teaching and learning.

The systems approach of educational technology represents the latest concept in technology of education and refers to a systematic way to design, carry out and evaluate the total process of education in terms of specific objectives, keeping in view the educational objectives and available man-material resources.

This approach involved setting goals and objectives, analyzing resources, devising a plan of action and continuous evaluation/modification of the program.

We need to explore, encourage, and promote the development and use of educational technologies at all levels of our educational spectrum. Through such technologies, we can transform our institutions and achieve better outcomes for our students.

Nana Prof. Osei Darkwa, President

African Virtual Campus

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