Reflection: definitions of educational technology

I associate educational technology mostly with the tangible products selected through an instructional design process. From this point of view, educational technology consists of those things we use: a course management system, projectors, laptops. Learning objects that include images, sounds, video and other related media are also products of an instructional design process.

So in terms of staff and roles, an instructional designer creates media and things used for instruction, while a technologist might recommend the best tools to support education.

Humans seem to be in a constant cycle of trying to define themselves and their relationship with the world. Often, we want to expand upon accepted definitions of words or transform meaning and rebuild connections associated with specific concepts. Yet, when it comes down to it, when we need help or seek assistance, we don’t necessarily say “Betty, I need an instructional designer”, or “Bob, could you ring up that educational technology expert to help us out here”. We seek out individuals we know can help us. We want assistance from someone who understands us and our needs. I think we could assign any label we want to what it is that we as professionals are doing in our field. So long as the people we help understand that we are helping them to essentially utilize available resources to support desired outcomes.

Instructional support guru/master might be a better concept to communicate what we do rather than educational technology/instructional designer. We borrow from psychology, sociology, planning, architecture, marketing, technology, graphic design, videography, and many other fields. We seek out the methods that will help learners to get the most out of available resources.

Let’s spend less time conceptualizing our understanding of ourselves and more time on building a diversified, holistic skill set. The people we help, they know why they seek us out. We don’t need to fully re-design the wheel of meaning and conceptualization in order to effectively do our thing. Tie promotion and marketing of our skill set to the needs expressed by our target audience, and move on from there.

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