Module 01: The Field of Educational Technology  

Overview of this section

People in action

Throughout the modules, we will be checking in with two people who have entered the field of educational technology. One is a teacher; the other a person who has recently found himself hired as an instructional designer. Neither are totally convinced that the field of educational technology is where they will end up, but both feel they need to update their skills and knowledge.

Barbara is a science teacher at a local middle school. Although she has built a successful program and reputation over the past 20 years as an effective and caring educator, she has the nagging feeling that she might be able to do a better job employing "educational technologies" in the classroom. Besides, taking additional classes will help move her up on the pay scale.

After completing his degree in Liberal Arts five years ago, Roberto was employed by a nationwide designer and seller of recreational equipment. Because he was a quick study, he moved up from sales at a local office to the national headquarters where he has now been asked to create training materials for the network of 55 stores. He quickly found, however, that being good at one job does not mean you necessarily know how to design and teach other people. A friend told him about the field of educational technology, and from what he has heard, he thinks some of the knowledge and skills from this field may help him do a better job of creating informational and instructional products for the local sites.

Main points of Module 01

  1. Although educational technologists come from a variety of fields, a common characteristic is their love of learning.
  2. Demand for educational technologists continues to grow due to the need of teaching basic skills and knowledge, the increasing numbers of careers, the proliferation of new media and information, and the developing global culture.
  3. Educational technologists are found in organizations that either educate or train their members or constituents.
  4. Educational institutions, the corporate sector, the military, and companies that specialize in educational technology are all steady employers of educational technologists.
  5. There are six major job classifications with the field of educational technology: analysts, designers, developers, implementers, evaluators, and project managers.
  6. The job of the analyst is to examine the performance problem or opportunity, identify the underlying cause, and make recommendations as to possible solutions.
  7. The basic jobs of designers are to establish performance objectives for the learners or products, design instruments to measure the amount of learning, and select or create instructional strategies for an appropriate intervention.
  8. Developers use the plans established by the designers to create products in media such as video, textbooks, and multimedia.
  9. Implementers use the instructional plans or materials and deliver them to the learners through methods which motivate and facilitate learning.
  10. Evaluators work throughout the analysis, design, development, and implementing stages to ensure the intervention meet the expressed need.
  11. Project managers supervise and assist the entire intervention process, as well as sometimes assisting in sales and marketing.
  12. Depending on the organization and job specifics, educational technologists may specialize in one, or assist in multiple levels, of the design process.
  13. The two basic things that educational technologists create are instructional products and programs.
  14. Although no one can be completely knowledgeable of all instructional products, it is important to have a familiarity with the strengths and limitations of the different format and media of which instructional products are made.
  15. A broad based experience in all aspects of educational technology allows new students the ability to better communicate with clients and coworkers, and to see where their skills fit in the entire process.
  16. The creation and delivery of instructional programs benefit from the systematic approach and an understanding of how people learn.
  17. Due to the wide variety of opportunities in educational technology, we suggest that students experience all of the aspects of the field over their graduate work before deciding to specialize in any one area.

Next step

With such a variety of directions that an educational technologist can explore as they work on their degree and in the occupations they are employed after graduation, you may be wondering how the field evolved to be so encompassing. In the next chapter we'll explore some of the diverse fields that have led us to where we are today: from our ancient roots that we trace as far back as Socrates, to recent changes in the personal multimedia computer and the Internet.


Page authors: Bob Hoffman & Donn Ritchie
Last updated: January 30, 2000
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