Education Technology – Getting Started

Before purchasing and setting up the hardware and software, an educator needs to change their whole mindset about instructing using educational technology. The messages we teach our students has change throughout the centuries, however, the medium in which we present these message has not really changed. Sure paper is used instead of tablets, pencils instead of chalk and white boards instead of chalk, but these are really not revolutionary changes.

Computer technology and the internet are revolutionizing the way educators instruct students. These twentieth century advances used properly make our lives more efficient, and in turn they can help educators deliver curriculum more proficiently.

Educators need to realize that today’s student is more comfortable typing up a paragraph on the computer rather than writing it on a piece of paper. These students have had technology and the internet in their lives since they can remember and they are very comfortable using it. Many educators on the other hand do remember a time when technology and the internet were not a part of everyday life.

These educators need to become part of the technology revolution in order to be able to integrate education technology into their classrooms. Blogging, web design, video conferencing and joining online communities are just some of the ways educators can become more familiar with the internet and technology era. We can learn from students who are not born knowing how to navigate through the internet or use all the technological gadgets, they simply learn by playing around with technology and by trial and error. Go ahead start playing around before you know it you’ll be an education technology guru.

Lucas Kent is an experienced educator and author of 6 Steps to Success in Teaching with Technology which in now available on Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com and many other online bookstores.

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Educational Technology and Science – A Perfect Fit

Even as a long-time proponent of the use of educational technology, I am still amazed at the rapid pace at which it has become a necessity rather than a source of enrichment activities. Today’s students, and even many of the parents, having grown up with technology as a part of their daily lives, retain certain expectations and assumptions regarding the way technology is used for learning. No longer can the classroom computer be set off in the corner to be used sporadically for special activities nor can video be used as a babysitter. Technology must become an integral part of classroom life.

What Students Need

If our job, as educators, is to prepare students to become successful members of our society, then in addition to the traditional knowledge and skills, students must now be prepared to access, evaluate, analyze, and synthesize immeasurable quantities of information. They need to have exceptional listening skills, be able to use email, understand basic operating systems, use word processing and other software, and use the internet for research.

This need poses new challenges for teachers, especially those who may not feel as prepared to use technology as their students might be. It is time for educators to overcome the outdated idea that they must be experts in educational technology before the students are allowed to use it.

Some Benefits of Educational Technology

o increases interest (even in rote tasks)
o provides a purpose for learning
o promotes the perception that all knowledge is related (not isolated bits)
o allows for student individuality in learning styles

Educational Technology in the Science Classroom

The decision to apply technology in the learning environment is often not driven by the technology but by the task at hand.

Take, for example, the case of the physics teacher who needed to set up some labs for thermodynamics but had no money left for supplies or equipment. Because he was lucky enough to have 8 computers in his classroom, he was able to use them to create the labs. The students were sent to science software the school uses and a website. The site has some great simulations that this teacher feels are more interactive and that do a better job of demonstrating the physics behind the topic than traditional labs.

Because science learning requires a great deal of critical analysis, using educational technology in the science classroom is especially warranted. Learning to solve complex problems requires a different instructional approach than learning isolated skills and information required for standardized testing purposes. For example, while doing internet research, a student needs to be able to evaluate an internet source for reliability, accuracy, and bias; the same type of information required in science exploration activities.

In order to fully prepare our students for “real” life, as educators we need to not only provide them with the content knowledge they need, but also the ability to:

o accurately acquire information from visual and auditory sources (watching and listening)
o develop solutions to problems and then present these solutions to others using various forms of media
o display originality and employ problem solving skills during the creative process
o be team players and good collaborators
o demonstrate cross-cultural awareness
o communicate complex ideas effectively

I contend, as do many educational experts, that the use of technology in the classroom is, by far, the best way to accomplish these lofty goals. Educators must prepare for a future that involves much technology and they need to keep abreast of change by adopting effective strategies that use appropriate technologies.

In the science classroom, we need to do more with technology so that our students are better educated and better able to succeed in life.

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Educational Technology Needs a Lesson Plan

I remember feeling very progressive when I purchased my daughter her first educational software, Reader Rabbit, in the early 1990s. Now a 22 year-old college graduate, she and many like her have never known a world without computers. Not only does she use an internet-enabled phone to constantly communicate, but her job as an emergency room nurse requires computer skills as well. So, needless to say, I am a strong proponent of using educational technology, both in the classroom and at home. Whether we like it or not – it’s a part of our daily lives now.

But that is only the first of a couple of reasons I support the use of technology with young children.

A second reason is that the use of educational technology in early education programs tends to level the educational playing field between those who have this access at home and those that do not. Being able to use computers and other technology at school can help all children develop the necessary life-skills needed in our technologically focused society.

Many experts recommend that all early childhood classrooms have an educational technology center that includes a computer, a printer, a digital camera, age-appropriate educational software, and access to the Internet. We would like to suggest that these centers also include a variety of educational DVDs and videos for those students who learn best with the added audio visual element that these mediums provide. Because children learn differently, at different rates, requiring different stimuli, when integrating technology into the lessons, it is important to plan to use all forms of technology – not just a few.

When creating such a technology center, here are some things to remember.

o Technology is not a replacement for the teacher. Technology elements, whether computers or educational DVDs and videos, are merely tools designed to help children learn. The teacher is still the guide.

o Consideration the applicable students’ age, developmental levels, and individual needs when selecting software, videos, and other technology.

o Don’t forget the parents. Collaborate with them and impart the importance of their involvement when their children are watching an educational television program or playing/working with computers.

o Monitor children’s use of all forms of technology that use earphones. Some research suggests that the volume at which children listen to the music can be extremely harmful.

In other words, what educational technology needs, to be properly integrated into the classroom is a good old-fashioned lesson plan.

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Educational Technology – Not Just Computer Technology

Technology is the branch of knowledge that deals with creating and using technical methods, such as tools and crafts, for interacting with life, society, and the environment. Beginning with the conversion of natural resources into simple tools, technology has affected human society and its surroundings in a variety of ways: Foremost, it has:

o Assisted in the development of more advanced economies

o Allowed the rise of a leisure class

o Helped develop today’s global economy

Philosophical debates continue regarding the present and future uses, primarily over whether technology improves the human condition or worsens it.

Computer technology is a prime example. Computers have certainly changed the way people do just about everything, including how they handle personal affairs, communicate, run businesses, and how our children are taught. However, although technology promises many potential benefits for education, we must be careful not to make the all-too-common mistake of speaking of educational technology as if it is synonymous with computer technology. There are other forms of technology used in education and we should not ignore them.

“Technically speaking,” educational technology, sometimes referred to as learning technology, is the study and practice of teaching and improving capabilities by developing, using, and administering suitable technological processes and resources. Whether the selected medium is a GPS device, an educational video, a metal detector, or a computer, educational technology provides for an enormous amount of interactivity. It allows faculty and students to participate in dynamic demonstrations, simulations, and models that can be used to explore and test theories.

The use of educational technology can:

o Show students the path of recent technological progress

o Enrich instructional lectures and presentations

o Encourage students to be active discoverers

o Enhance motivation and curiosity

The appropriate use of all forms of technology in education leads to improved thinking, greater problem-solving skills and a deeper understanding of both concrete and abstract concepts.

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History of Educational Technology

There is no written evidence which can tell us exactly who has coined the phrase educational technology. Different educationists, scientists and philosophers at different time intervals have put forwarded different definitions of Educational Technology. Educational technology is a multifaceted and integrated process involving people, procedure, ideas, devices, and organization, where technology from different fields of science is borrowed as per the need and requirement of education for implementing, evaluating, and managing solutions to those problems involved in all aspects of human learning.

Educational technology, broadly speaking, has passed through five stages.

The first stage of educational technology is coupled with the use of aids like charts, maps, symbols, models, specimens and concrete materials. The term educational technology was used as synonyms to audio-visual aids.

The second stage of educational technology is associated with the ‘electronic revolution’ with the introduction and establishment of sophisticated hardware and software. Use of various audio-visual aids like projector, magic lanterns, tape-recorder, radio and television brought a revolutionary change in the educational scenario. Accordingly, educational technology concept was taken in terms of these sophisticated instruments and equipments for effective presentation of instructional materials.

The third stage of educational technology is linked with the development of mass media which in turn led to ‘communication revolution’ for instructional purposes. Computer-assisted Instruction (CAI) used for education since 1950s also became popular during this era.

The fourth stage of educational technology is discernible by the individualized process of instruction. The invention of programmed learning and programmed instruction provided a new dimension to educational technology. A system of self-learning based on self-instructional materials and teaching machines emerged.

The latest concept of educational technology is influenced by the concept of system engineering or system approach which focuses on language laboratories, teaching machines, programmed instruction, multimedia technologies and the use of the computer in instruction. According to it, educational technology is a systematic way of designing, carrying out and evaluating the total process of teaching and learning in terms of specific objectives based on research.

Educational technology during the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age
Educational technology, despite the uncertainty of the origin of the term, can be traced back to the time of the three-age system periodization of human prehistory; namely the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age.

Duringthe Stone Age, ignition of fire by rubbing stones, manufacture of various handmade weapon and utensils from stones and clothing practice were some of the simple technological developments of utmost importance. A fraction of Stone Age people developed ocean-worthy outrigger canoe ship technology to migrate from one place to another across the Ocean, by which they developed their first informal education of knowledge of the ocean currents, weather conditions, sailing practice, astronavigation, and star maps. During the later Stone Age period (Neolithic period),for agricultural practice, polished stone tools were made from a variety of hard rocks largely by digging underground tunnels, which can be considered as the first steps in mining technology. The polished axes were so effective that even after appearance of bronze and iron; people used it for clearing forest and the establishment of crop farming.

Although Stone Age cultures left no written records, but archaeological evidences proved their shift from nomadic life to agricultural settlement. Ancient tools conserved in different museums, cave paintings like Altamira Cave in Spain, and other prehistoric art, such as the Venus of Willendorf, Mother Goddess from Laussel, France etc. are some of the evidences in favour of their cultures.

Neolithic Revolution of Stone Age resulted into the appearance of Bronze Age with development of agriculture, animal domestication, and the adoption of permanent settlements. For these practices Bronze Age people further developed metal smelting, with copper and later bronze, an alloy of tin and copper, being the materials of their choice.

The Iron Age people replaced bronze and developed the knowledge of iron smelting technology to lower the cost of living since iron utensils were stronger and cheaper than bronze equivalents. In many Eurasian cultures, the Iron Age was the last period before the development of written scripts.

Educational technology during the period of Ancient civilizations
According to Paul Saettler, 2004, Educational technology can be traced back to the time when tribal priests systematized bodies of knowledge and ancient cultures invented pictographs or sign writing to record and transmit information. In every stage of human civilization, one can find an instructional technique or set of procedures intended to implement a particular culture which were also supported by number of investigations and evidences. The more advanced the culture, the more complex became the technology of instruction designed to reflect particular ways of individual and social behaviour intended to run an educated society. Over centuries, each significant shift in educational values, goals or objectives led to diverse technologies of instruction.

The greatest advances in technology and engineering came with the rise of the ancient civilizations. These advances stimulated and educated other societies in the world to adopt new ways of living and governance.

The Indus Valley Civilization was an early Bronze Age civilization which was located in the northwestern region of the Indian Subcontinent. The civilization was primarily flourished around the Indus River basin of the Indus and the Punjab region, extending upto the Ghaggar-Hakra River valley and the Ganges-Yamuna Doab, (most of the part is under today’s Pakistan and the western states of modern-day India as well as some part of the civilization extending upto southeastern Afghanistan, and the easternmost part of Balochistan, Iran).

There is a long term controversy to be sure about the language that the Harappan people spoke. It is assumed that their writing was at least seems to be or a pictographic script. The script appears to have had about 400 basic signs, with lots of variations. People write their script with the direction generally from right to left. Most of the writing was found on seals and sealings which were probably used in trade and official & administrative work.

Harappan people had the knowledge of the measuring tools of length, mass, and time. They were the first in the world to develop a system of uniform weights and measures.

In a study carried out by P. N. Rao et al. in 2009, published in Science, computer scientists found that the Indus script’s pattern is closer to that of spoken words, which supported the proposed hypothesis that it codes for an as-yet-unknown language.

According to the Chinese Civilization, some of the major techno-offerings from China include paper, early seismological detectors, toilet paper, matches, iron plough, the multi-tube seed drill, the suspension bridge, the wheelbarrow, the parachute, natural gas as fuel, the magnetic compass, the raised-relief map, the blast furnace, the propeller, the crossbow, the South Pointing Chariot, and gun powder. With the invent of paper they have given their first step towards developments of educational technology by further culturing different handmade products of paper as means of visual aids.

Ancient Egyptian language was at one point one of the longest surviving and used languages in the world. Their script was made up of pictures of the real things like birds, animals, different tools, etc. These pictures are popularly called hieroglyph. Their language was made up of above 500 hieroglyphs which are known as hieroglyphics. On the stone monuments or tombs which were discovered and rescued latter on provides the evidence of existence of many forms of artistic hieroglyphics in ancient Egypt.

Educational technology during Medieval and Modern Period
Paper and the pulp papermaking process which was developed in China during the early 2nd century AD, was carried to the Middle East and was spread to Mediterranean by the Muslim conquests. Evidences support that a paper mill was also established in Sicily in the 12th century. The discovery of spinning wheel increased the productivity of thread making process to a great extent and when Lynn White added the spinning wheel with increasing supply of rags, this led to the production of cheap paper, which was a prime factor in the development of printing technology.

The invention of the printing press was taken place in approximately 1450 AD, by Johannes Gutenburg, a German inventor. The invention of printing press was a prime developmental factor in the history of educational technology to convey the instruction as per the need of the complex and advanced-technology cultured society.

In the pre-industrial phases, while industry was simply the handwork at artisan level, the instructional processes were relied heavily upon simple things like the slate, the horn book, the blackboard, and chalk. It was limited to a single text book with a few illustrations. Educational technology was considered synonymous to simple aids like charts and pictures.

The year 1873 may be considered a landmark in the early history of technology of education or audio-visual education. An exhibition was held in Vienna at international level in which an American school won the admiration of the educators for the exhibition of maps, charts, textbooks and other equipments.

Maria Montessori (1870-1952), internationally renowned child educator and the originator of Montessori Method exerted a dynamic impact on educational technology through her development of graded materials designed to provide for the proper sequencing of subject matter for each individual learner. Modern educational technology suggests many extension of Montessori’s idea of prepared child centered environment.

In1833, Charles Babbage’s design of a general purpose computing device laid the foundation of the modern computer and in 1943, the first computing machine as per hi design was constructed by International Business Machines Corporation in USA. The Computer Assisted instruction (CAI) in which the computer functions essentially as a tutor as well as the Talking Type writer was developed by O.K. Moore in 1966. Since 1974, computers are interestingly used in education in schools, colleges and universities.

In the beginning of the 19th century, there were noteworthy changes in the field of education. British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), right from its start of school broadcasts in 1920 had maintained rapid pace in making sound contribution to formal education. In the USA, by 1952, 20 states had the provision for educational broadcasting. Parallel to this time about 98% of the schools in United Kingdom were equipped with radios and there were regular daily programmes.

Sidney L. Pressey, a psychologist of Ohio state university developed a self-teaching machine called ‘Drum Tutor’ in 1920. Professor Skinner, however, in his famous article ‘Science of Learning and art of Teaching’ published in 1945 pleaded for the application of the knowledge derived from behavioral psychology to classroom procedures and suggested automated teaching devices as means of doing so.

Although the first practical use of Regular television broadcasts was in Germany in 1929 and in 1936 the Olympic Games in Berlin were broadcasted through television stations in Berlin, Open circuit television began to be used primarily for broadcasting programmes for entertainment in 1950. Since 1960, television is used for educational purposes.

In 1950, Brynmor, in England, used educational technological steps for the first time. It is to be cared that in 1960, as a result of industrial revolution in America and Russia, other countries also started progressing in the filed of educational technology. In this way, the beginning of educational technology took place in 1960 from America and Russia and now it has reached England, Europe and India.

During the time of around 1950s, new technocracy was turning it attraction to educations when there was a steep shortage of teachers in America and therefore an urgent need of educational technology was felt. Dr. Alvin C. Eurich and a little later his associate, Dr. Alexander J. Stoddard introduced mass production technology in America.

Team teaching had its origin in America in the mid of 1950′s and was first started in the year 1955 at Harvard University as a part of internship plan.

In the year 1956, Benjamin Bloom from USA introduced the taxonomy of educational objectives through his publication, “The Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, The Classification of Educational Goals, Handbook I: Cognitive Domain”.

In 1961, Micro teaching technique was first adopted by Dwight W. Allen and his co-workers at Stanford University in USA.

Electronics is the main technology being developed in the beginning of 21st century. Broadband Internet access became popular and occupied almost all the important offices and educational places and even in common places in developed countries with the advantage of connecting home computers with music libraries and mobile phones.

Today’s classroom is more likely to be a technology lab, a room with rows of students using internet connected or Wi-Fi enabled laptops, palmtops, notepad, or perhaps students are attending a video conferencing or virtual classroom or may have been listening to a podcast or taking in a video lecture. Rapid technological changes in the field of educational have created new ways to teach and to learn. Technological changes also motivated the teachers to access a variety of information on a global scale via the Internet, to enhance their lessons as well as to make them competent professional in their area of concern. At the same time, students can utilize vast resources of the Internet to enrich their learning experience to cope up with changing trend of the society. Now a days students as well teachers are attending seminars, conferences, workshops at national and international level by using the multimedia techno-resources like PowerPoint and even they pursue a variety of important courses of their choice in distance mode via online learning ways. Online learning facility has opened infinite number of doors of opportunities for today’s learner to make their life happier than ever before.

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