Archive of Readings

May 11, 2005

Hello, This blog contains an archive of my readings and thoughts for an Introduction to Instructional Technology Class. I will not be updating this portion of my blog again, but will leave it online as an archive of my writings.



Final Reflection: What is Instructional Technology?

December 8, 2004

What is Instructional Technology?

Robin Fay, EDIT6100 Fall

At the beginning of this class, I defined Instructional Technology as

“Merg[ing] the fields of education and technology to better facilitate learning in various environments. Instructional Technology provides multimedia tools and new learning methodologies to achieve better knowledge transfer and fundamental learning.”

While I still agree the Instructional Technology merges the field of education (learning, educating, instructing, training, facilitating, supporting, evaluating) with technology (tools and mechanisms to better facilitate knowledge building), I now have a better understanding of the diversity of the field.

Instructional technology does not necessarily mean utilizing multimedia tools, although those tools are what most people commonly associate with interactive learning and instructional technology. Instructional technology can incorporate any tools into an educational environment from books, to television programs, to radio documentaries to flash games. All of those items are a form of technology and when used in an educational setting become part of instructional technology.

One of the more interesting aspects of Instructional Technology as a field is the varying opinions of the field. Experts in the field can not agree on even fundamental concepts of the fusion of technology and education –does the media impact the learning or is the learning independent of the media? (Kozmo vs. Clark) Do children learn with technology or from technology (Impact of Media and Technology in School, as well as other readings)? What is Media Literacy and how do you measure it (The Media Education Elephant)? Can we evaluate the effectiveness of technology use (The World Wide Web: A Technology to Enhance Learning, The computer delusion, among others)?

If experts and practitioners in the field can not clearly define Instructional Technology, moving forward to foundation beliefs and practices seems nearly impossible. Many of the articles that we read this semester seemed to recognize this ambivalence within Instructional Technology. Why does this exist?

Instructional Technology is hard to pin down in a single brief definition because it encompasses such broad concepts: learning, human nature and capabilities, and creativity, among others. Additionally, technology by nature is in flux. Any definition of a field related to technology will quickly become outdated, if not carefully thought out to provide flexibility for expansion and growth. Before computers and media centers were the new thing, there were AV labs, before AV labs, there were traditional libraries with books. Every innovation has cried of the demise of its predecessors, although some format continues to exist (e.g., radio still exists but the programming and transmission have changed, books are still around but publishing has changed, etc.)

A definition of Instructional Technology must encompass all of these various formats of technology and then provide flexibility to cover all of the various aspects of knowledge growth and acquisition from a k12 environment to higher ed to corporate training to scholarly research.

Isn’t that too much to ask of one definition? Because a definition of this nature can quickly become so expansive that it almost loses its scope, various IT experts and practitioners have attempted to rein it in through very defined parameters and learning theories. Some have defined IT merely in terms of the multimedia component (Dr. Elrich) while others have keyed on the research, strategic planning, evaluation of the development tools through Instructional Models and learning theories (Constructivism, for one).

Constructivism is a very systematic and procedural way of developing an Instructional Design model (e.g., lesson plan, project, workshop, etc.) While it is very systematic and provides many opportunities for careful planning and evaluation, in the real world it might just be a little too much. The goal that all of the Instructional models have in common is creating educational moments and facilitating learning opportunities.

However, if IT professionals struggle to define their field (or have conflicting or differing definitions), how can the general population and the sources of funding (government, corporate entities, etc.) possibly understand how complex it is?

Unfortunately, in the minds of many people Instructional Technology equals computers. Vote/Buy computers for the classroom and there’s the Instructional Technology. Literacy, test scores, and grades will go; students will become brillant; the instructors will have more time for other duties, and everyone will love the people who helped make it happen. Whether or not Instructional Technology will ever involve past the IT equals computers, past the IT equals the latest technological gadget (whatever that may be) remains to be seen.

What I have learned is that Instructional Technology is still in its infancy. Just as most countries advanced through the Industrial Age, we are now in a new age (Information Age?) driven by this new technology. With the Industrial Age came automation, cars, and a new way of living, which impacted how and when we learned. The Information Age (or whatever it ends being called) has greater implications beyond learning and education. Whatever IT is defined as now, it will change as the field grows. The broader the scope and definition, the more likely it is to remain truthful and relevant in the future. Instructional Technology encompasses so much, it is almost hard to define it without writing several pages.

In its current incarnation and in the broadest scope possible, Instructional Technology encompasses all forms of technology (regardless of whether they are electronic or not) and all forms and variations of learning environments (interactive, passive, etc.) as well as all educational opportunities in the broadest sense (research, teaching, instruction, self learning, creative exploration,etc.) Instructional Technology can help shape learning experiences and provide tools which can facilitate learning opportunities. Instructional Technology is not finite; it does not equal one time funding for computers for a classroom but everything that is encompassed and impacted by that technology at the time and in the future.


Assignment 29: Reading: The Media Education Elephant

December 1, 2004

http://interact.uoregon.edu

/MediaLit/mlr/readings/articles/tyner/elephant.html

Basically, this article talks about the history of media literacy and how political and social issues have impacted it from funding to the perception of it by practitioners. The author compares Media Literacy/IT to the “blind man and elephant” fable in that it does not have just one component and practice but many.

In times of economic downturn, it seems that media literacy (like many other “fringe” educational elements from the art to music to pe) are pushed to the side because they are deemed less important than the basic “3 Rs”. The protectionists try to continue to promote standards of materials, especially in regards to programs aimed at a younger audience. As a side benefit, the protectionists are also concerned about the impacts of programming (especially) television as it relates to children’s mental and physical health.

The author also discusses the rise of technical education (formerly known as vocational education). The end goal of technical education can be summed up in the word “job readiness.” Partnerships with corporations are mutually useful in that it provides materials to schools in desparate need of funding and it gives the corporation a chance to influence its potential future workforce (as an added bonus, it may also help establish brand loyalty, even at a young age)

I think the rise in Technical education in the US is very interesting. It seems that some of the Technical Institutes/Universities advertise heavily on TV ; they tout the short amount of time to finish the programs and the “big bucks” payoff –money, prestige, etc. Little is said abount true learning or even what the student might learn. In fact a least one ad that I saw a few months ago compared a University degree to wasting time, vs. a Technical degree (a real degree).

Models that the author discusses are school/media specialists, video production, and museum programs (media arts)


Assignment 28: Reading: Media Comparison Research

November 17, 2004

http://www.gsu.edu/~mstswh/courses/it7000/papers/media.htm

Media Comparison Research

The author points out that many believe that there has been a shift in education from instructional media research from behavioral to cognitive.

He defines Media as

  • refer[ing] to a class of instructional resources and representing all aspects of the mediation of instruction through the agency of reproducible events. It includes the materials themselves, the instruments used to deliver the materials to learners and the techniques or methods employed. (Allen 1)
  • defined by its technology, symbol systems and processing capabilities. The most obvious characteristics of a medium are its technology: the mechanical and electronic aspects that determine its function and, to some extent, its shape and other physical features. (Kozma 180)

Media Research is based in

  • obtain knowledge about the educational or instructional effectiveness of a chosen medium
  • increase understanding of how media and technology function and what psychological effects they have on a learner
  • improve the practice of education through the provision and evaluation of better materials, media, procedures and technologies (Salomon, Clark 1-2).

This article revisits many of the Kozmo(medium important)/Clark(medium not important) argument and discusses the impact of research results on ongoing research.


Assignment 27: Reading: The attack on ISD

November 17, 2004

http://www.nwlink.com/%7Edonclark/history_isd/attack.html

This week’s readings could just as well be called IT hangover. 🙂

Perrsonally, all of the articles in this week’s reading, just seem like an expected backlash. Before people change a habit (or way of doing something) there is often a big flurry of regression/nostalgia for the old way. I think that is completely true with what is happening with technology. There is a psychological term for this, but I am odds to remember.

Basically, this article discusses how the ISD module is outdated and that the harder you try to describe how it should be done, the further you get from the realilty. Kind of like if you try to describe infinity…the more words you put on it the further you get from the reality of it. There will never be enough words to describe it.

Anyhow, back to the article. Sorry, I know I am rambling. I really am very tired.
Four major charges are brought against the model:

  • ISD is too slow and clumsy to meet today’s training challenges.
  • There no ‘there’ there.
  • Used as directed, it produces bad solutions.
  • It clings to the wrong world view.

This kind of reminds me of what I do, or at least one component of what I do in my daily work. On the surface cataloging seems like a very easy thing to do, you take an item, determine it’s “aboutness” based upon a certain criteria and add those keywords in. Sounds simple enough, hmm? Well, there’s many wrong ways to do as well as many right ways to do it. Sometimes, it is a matter of determining which is the best way, but perhaps, not the right way. One can learn cataloging relatively quickly; however, to understand it, to be able to synthesize the rules, standards, and practices requires many years of experience. Even the best cataloger can make a bad decision.

To add to that analogy, Cataloging is often seen as an outdated practice. With keywords and metadata who needs cataloging? Well, those are forms of the cataloging concept as is any organizational structure. While the ISD module may need some tweaking, the concepts inherent to it will continue to remain valuable. It’s taking the fundamentals of the critical thinking and applying it to new concepts.


Assignment 26: Reading: The computer delusion

November 17, 2004

http://www.tnellen.com/ted/tc/computer.htm

Oh, haven’t we all suffered from the computer delusion at one time or another? Something that will make our life easier ends up taking up more time than if we had just done it the old-fashioned way.

Wasn’t it supposed to get rid of the stacks and stacks of paperwork I have to do? Yeah, that’s right, where’s the paperless society at tax time??!?

The author starts out with this statement:

There is no good evidence that most uses of computers significantly improve teaching and learning, yet school districts are cutting programs — music, art, physical education — that enrich children’s lives to make room for this dubious nostrum, and the Clinton Administration has embraced the goal of “computers in every classroom” with credulous and costly enthusiasm

He then quotes Newt Gingrich during his time as Speaker of the House, “talking about computers to the Republican National Committee early this year, said, “We could do so much to make education available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, that people could literally have a whole different attitude toward learning.”

Personally, I think both of those statements clearly indicate what is wrong with the use of technology AND the overall state of our education system. Learning 24-7? How long will be before people hate the site of a computer? Where is the fun in learning? Where is the excitement of learning?

Basically, the author posits that contrary to what pro technology experts say, history is repeating itself but no one is paying any attention (is that surprising in the Rittalin World?)

Five main arguments underlie the campaign to computerize our nation’s schools.

  • Computers improve both teaching practices and student achievement.
  • Computer literacy should be taught as early as possible; otherwise students will be left behind.
  • To make tomorrow’s work force competitive in an increasingly high-tech world, learning computer skills must be a priority.
  • Technology programs leverage support from the business community — badly needed today because schools are increasingly starved for funds.
  • Work with computers — particularly using the Internet — brings students valuable connections with teachers, other schools and students, and a wide network of professionals around the globe. These connections spice the school day with a sense of real-world relevance, and broaden the educational community.

He then examines each of these issues and offers his criticism. In a nutshell he compares computers to the “filmstrips of the 90s”. An interesting comparison when you think of what happened with filmstrips. What he may not realize is that to alot of us who remember filmstrips, we loved them. They were cool — even the hokey ones. In a worst case situation, it was nap time. The thing is kids will always tune out if they are not interested and engaged, computers are no different in that means (although I believe that they do offer a greater chance for interactive which should be more engaging).


Assignment 25: Digital Diplomas Mills A Desenting Voice

November 17, 2004

http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue4_7/white/index.html

This is from firstmonday which I used to read abit when I was in “library school”.

The author notes the following points:

Where he agrees on the topic of digital diploma mills:

  • Technology is used as a means of social control (e.g., there is a division between those who are pro-technology as a new mechanism for teaching and those who feel that teaching is best served in a traditional setting) As he points out, change is neither good nor bad and does have the ability to breed conflict.

Where he disagrees on the topic of digital diploma mills:

  • The author disagrees on many points of the digital dipolma mills discussion including research into the effectiveness of online teacher, the impact of technology on student performance (critics point to a reduction), it is intrinisically inferior, students do not want it, and that it can never replicate a true teacher/student relationship.

In the remaining part of the article, the author addresses these points and also delivers this stinging commentary, ” …Noble appears to have made it his business not to know much about information technologies.”

Frankly, I found both articles very biased, although I did feel the bias was not as pointed in the first article, “Digital Dipolma Mills”. In addition to the followup/rebuttal article being personal and subjective, it seemed to be a little too heavy on the “you should believe me because I am an expert” and “do not listen to that man over there because he doesn’t even read his email so how could he know anything about online technology?”