In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Educational Technology

  • Introduction
  • Definitions and Overviews
  • Textbooks
  • Organizations
  • Journals
  • History and Pioneers
  • Research and Methodologies
  • Teaching
  • Learning
  • Assessment
  • Achievement and Productivity
  • Training and Development
  • Educational Tools
  • Implementation and Integration
  • Accessibility and Inclusiveness
  • International Perspectives
  • Impact of Educational Technology in the Future

Education Educational Technology
Pearl Sims, Steven Stone
  • LAST REVIEWED: 29 July 2020
  • LAST MODIFIED: 15 December 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0011


The theoretical foundations for modern-day educational technology were laid by the early Greeks, arguably the creators of the world’s first computer. The emerging field of educational technology has been intimately intertwined with the growth of learning and human development theories and research throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. The rapid creation and field deployment of military and industrial technology during the world wars marked the marriage of technology and education. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, research and development regarding the use of technology to develop skills and competencies was driven by businesses and industries seeking higher productivity. In more recent years, the boom in communication and collaborative and social media has propelled and responded to contemporary problems of human learning. Educational technology as an academic domain is relatively new, and much debate exists as to how to clearly define the discipline (see Lowenthal and Wilson 2010, cited in Definitions and Overviews). The debate, at its core, is a discussion about how to incorporate studies regarding the ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources (Richey 2008), cited in Definitions and Overviews) with the ongoing and constantly changing development of software, hardware, and Internet applications that can be used to improve teaching and learning. The selections of citations for this topic were determined partially in response to Walter B. Waetjen’s paper, “Shaping the Future of a Profession” (Waetjen 1992, cited in Definitions and Overviews), which has challenged technology educators who have been helping to shape this emerging field to remember the four core elements common to all disciplines: domain, history, mode of inquiry, and instructive capability. The section Definitions and Overviews recommends articles related to the difficulty of defining educational technology as a domain. This section includes prominent journals, textbooks, and associations related to both education and technology. History and Pioneers offers a brief history of educational technology and of the early pioneers of technology in education and training. The Research and Methodologies section presents sources of quality information regarding models of inquiry into the field and introduces some of the researchers that have significantly influenced this evolving field. The sections on Teaching and Learning address how technology is currently being used in education to enhance teaching and learning. The section on Assessment puts forward a few examples of articles pertaining to the tools and the infrastructure necessary to use technology in the service of teaching and learning. The Educational Tools, Implementation and Integration, International Perspectives and Impact of Educational Technology in the Future sections provide glimpses, from international and futuristic viewpoints, of the potential impact of educational technology.

Definitions and Overviews

Defining the robust and emerging field of educational technology is still very much in flux, as attested to in Czerniewicz 2008 and Januszewski and Molenda 2008. Waetjen 1992 challenges researchers and scholars of educational technology to take the necessary steps in helping to shape their studies into an accepted academic field of study. Although the respected professional organization Association for Education Communications and Technology (AECT) puts forth working definitions for what this domain could encompass, Richey 2008 and Lowenthal and Wilson 2010 argue that even what to include and exclude from such definitive statements about the field must still be strongly debated. Three of the works chosen in this section contextualize the nature and complexity of defining education technology as a domain by offering overviews of the current and emerging technologies (Office of Educational Technology 2010), of the impact of the technologies on human learning (Means and Roschelle 2010), and of the issues and challenges related to using technology in educational settings (Spector 2010).

  • Czerniewicz, Laura. 2008. Distinguishing the field of educational technology. Electronic Journal of e-Learning 6.3: 171–178.

    This article defines educational technology as an emerging field from both academic and professional perspectives. Provides frameworks for distinguishing fields and the implications that this distinction will have on educational technology as a field in the future.

  • Januszewski, Alan, and Michael Molenda, eds. 2008. Educational technology: A definition with commentary. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

    Based on the AECT’s definition of educational technology as a field, this book discusses the individual words of the definition at length. Helps provide a common taxonomy for those in the field.

  • Lowenthal, Patrick R., and Brent G. Wilson. 2010. Labels DO matter! A critique of AECT’s redefinition of the field. TechTrends 54.1 (January): 38–46.

    DOI: 10.1007/s11528-009-0362-y

    A critique of the AECT’s definition of educational technology, which claims that the definition that was current at the time of writing limited the potential of the field because of its effect on the views of external audiences.

  • Means, B., and J. Roschelle. 2010. An overview of technology and learning. In International encyclopedia of education. 3d ed. Edited by Penelope L. Peterson, Eva L. Baker, and Barry MacGaw, 1–10. Oxford: Elsevier.

    A brief overview of the field that details the current and emerging technologies in education and their uses in specific subjects. A valuable introduction and reference for instructional technology.

  • Office of Educational Technology. 2010. Transforming American education: Learning powered by technology. Washington, DC: Office of Educational Technology.

    Report from the US Department of Education that defines the most important issues in educational technology and lays out a national plan for the future of the field. Vital information for the current state and future of instructional technology.

  • Richey, Rita C. 2008. Reflections on the 2008 AECT definitions of the field. TechTrends 52.1: 24–25.

    DOI: 10.1007/s11528-008-0108-2

    Provides multiple perspectives on the AECT’s 2008 definition of educational technology and points out key implications. Available online by subscription.

  • Spector, J. Michael. 2010. An overview of progress and problems in educational technology. Interactive Educational Multimedia 3:27–37.

    This article provides a current analysis of the state of the field of educational technology while also taking a critical perspective to identify the necessary steps for future progress.

  • Waetjen, Walter B. 1992. Shaping the future of a profession. In Critical issues in technology education. Edited by International Technology Education Association, 25–30. Reston, VA: International Technology Education Association.

    One of the first significant definitions and plans for the future of the field of educational technology. Details the need to set forth a research agenda in order to be fully accepted as an academic field of study.

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