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.

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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The small company I work for is committed to creating quality educational videos for classroom instruction. From the earliest script stages, all subject area content, images, and music are intensely reviewed and selected for meeting appropriate grade level, curriculum objectives and standards for our proprietary productions. The videos we distribute are also screened to meet our high standards.
Teachers in the 21st century classroom will be better educators if they understand how to use multi media in their lessons, if they understand the processes that research has shown to be the most effective for improved student performance, and if they know how to find quality video resources that will enhance their lessons.

E-Learning – Technology Solutions

Electronic learning or E-Learning is a general term used to refer to computer-enhanced learning. E-learning is the unifying term to describe the fields of online learning, web-based training, and technology-delivered instruction.

E-Learning lessons are generally designed to guide students through information or to help students perform in specific tasks. Information based e-Learning content communicates information to the student. E-Learning today has narrowed down the gap between training and marketing communication programs. E-Learning is used by educators to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of educational intervention in the face of the social, scientific, and educational challenges.

In order to work closely with professionals, learners and institutions, it is necessary to deliver continuing education i.e. which focuses on requirements which should clearly meet the learning goals. These Learning goals differ from students, trainees, professions and the skilled persons. It is obvious each have multiple learning styles. Most E-learning systems offer the same tools and resource materials to all these peoples who are different in terms of motivations, training backgrounds, technical skills and learning objectives. Not only should the learners have multi learning styles but the instructor who provides training also should have the capability to reach multi talented students in while educating.

Based on these issues, extensive research should be initiated for an innovative approach of e-learning technology and solutions delivery methodologies to make learning feasible. Even some of the E-Learning products have been developed that should enhance the learning experience and deliver value to the learning value-chain. The training solutions comprise of various initiatives that integrate multi-format digital content, delivery mechanisms, and collaboration tools to deliver comprehensive problem solving results.

Quality Teaching – Five Loopholes

1. Goals of teaching-a prerogative of teacher

If perceived in terms of aspects of students that a teacher is supposed to attend to, the goal of any teaching process can be spotted anywhere along a continuum. At one end of the continuum objective of teaching is highly structured and mandatory. At the other end it is structure free where teacher’s discretionary power sets the objectives and it is purely his/her choice. In the mandatory, structured side there is a prescribed syllabus, explicit learning objectives and consequent cognitive skills to be developed in the students by the act of teaching. In the unstructured side of the continuum, the teacher is expected to deal with those aspects of students which are not prescribed in the syllabus but indispensable for effective assimilation and mastery of all things prescribed in the structured mandatory side. They are known as “non-brain” aspects of student life. They include students’ mindset, motivation to learn, effort, goal setting skills, his/her study habits, self-efficacy etc. Whether a teacher should pay attention to these dimensions of student life is purely subjected to the discretionary power of the teacher. In this sense, quality teaching is not exclusively a matter of transferring of knowledge prescribed in the syllabus. But it is very much linked to teacher’s willingness to explore non-mandatory areas in student-teacher relationship. In the realm of non-mandatory aspects of teacher-student relationship teacher can exercise her autonomous power as nobody can question her choices she makes here. She/he is free to exercise inclusiveness in teaching by attending to emotional, social, psychological aspects of learning or to remain totally impervious to these “non-brain” aspects of students learning. But bitter truth is, non-brain aspects of learning like motivation, study habits, self-efficacy, resilience etc has crucial role in the proper functioning of many cognitive aspects of learning like processing of information, attention, retention, reproducing or recalling of learned material (memory), creative skills, reasoning etc. Ongoing research findings in various branches of psychology, education, neurosciences etc vouch for it.

2. Evaluation of Teaching in the era of knowledge explosion

The actual success of teaching lies in teacher’s willingness to pay attention to cognitive as well as non-cognitive aspects of student brain and regulate teaching accordingly. Not much educational institutions have the systemic regulations for evaluating whether teaching is all inclusive. But all institutions assess teaching professionals for more objective aspects like finishing the topics at right time, class hours teacher spends with students, timely evaluation of assignments, class tests conducted etc. In many institutions, evaluating teachers for their quality of teaching is mainly confined to the criterion of percentage of students who come out successfully in the examination. Beyond that, institutions do not probe into the queries related to quality teaching.

Pass percentage of students can never be a reliable criteria for assessing the quality of teaching in this era of knowledge explosion where the teacher is one of the myriad available sources of knowledge. Innumerable resources like local tuition centers, internet search engines, free online courses are at the finger tip of student population. For a student of modern world teacher is only a formal figure in the process of knowledge acquisition. Compared to gigantic digital sources like internet, a teacher’s repository of knowledge is limited and rather inferior. Moreover, availability of interactive video lectures on any topic under the sky undermines the necessity of attending real class rooms for learning. Hence pass percentage is not always an exclusive product of class-room teaching and nevertheless a proof for quality in teaching.

3. Classroom teaching-teacher is the king.

Social skills that can be developed by attending the schools during early stages is the major factor that forces parents to send their wards to school. In this era of technology, the profession of teaching is ticking just because of one-one face to face relationship the class room ambience can offer to the student. Hence quality of class room teaching is a matter of maintaining the quality of that one-one relationship. It is never a matter of transferring of knowledge rather it is a matter of quality with which knowledge is transferred. This quality is purely a function of inclusiveness with which teacher deals student’s life. Teacher’s discretionary power determines actual quality of teaching as there is no law insisting teaching to be all inclusive. There aren’t any systemic regulations insisting that teacher should attend to social, emotional, psychological or moral aspects of student life. Depletion of quality education in any society is due to lack of viable strategies to ensure whether there is inclusiveness in teaching. Whether teaching is taking place for transferring knowledge or transforming student life is the crucial question.

No profession is as mysterious as teaching is. Nobody can assess objectively what a teacher does inside the class room. Nor can anybody constrain activities of a teacher in the class by suggesting what he/she should do. The quality of classroom ambience is the prerogative of a qualified teacher. The subjectivity within which teacher-student relationship is functioning is so precarious that teacher has total freedom to personalize it. Even the students’ evaluation of teachers can not make any considerable impact on “how a teacher relates to his/her professional space”. No wonder educationists and their research attempts do not cater much to the criteria for measurement and evaluation of teaching process for its quality. So far there are few valid tools to evaluate effectiveness of teaching. This mysterious aura surrounding the teacher is so captivating and teacher’s autonomy inside the class room is so superior that no force from outside can curb it. Often administrative restrictions or rules and regulations of the system can not penetrate the liaison developed between the teacher and her/his students. Because teacher is the sole authority who determines the quality or authenticity of interpersonal relationship which is the basis of entire process of teaching.

4. Two kinds of teaching

The above described autonomy of teachers often appear as an insurmountable block for the effective implementation of many innovations in the arena of teaching. To understand how the autonomous power of teacher in the class room become a hindrance to quality teaching, one must realize how a teacher wields her autonomy inside the class room. Broadly speaking, there are only two kinds of teachers. First, there are teachers who cater only to the cognitive requirements of their students through their subject of teaching. But there are teachers who attend to the concrete cognitive requirements as well-as non-cognitive aspects of students during teaching-learning process. The later group of teachers step into those regions of student-teacher relationship which is not explicitly prescribed in the curriculum. In the process teachers’ humane qualities combine with the subject expertise and the autonomous power of teacher aims at quality in teaching. Teaching becomes a creative act for such teachers where they actively engage in discovering and channelizing the potential of their students in the right direction.

5. Professional commitment-in the commercialized world

Gone are days where the entire world was assured of the quality teaching as something ingrained in the disposition of the teacher. Concern for students’ psychological aspects was something spontaneously oozes out of the teaching process. In those days nobody dared to check or cared to evaluate whether teacher had a holistic bend in her/his attitudes towards students. Evaluating a teacher for this was deemed as ridiculous as asking a surgeon whether he cared for the life of the patient lying on the operation table. But in the modern world it is not so. Nobody can deny that as in any field, commercialism is eating into the profession of teaching too and retaining the quality of teacher student relationship is getting difficult than ever. Erosion of quality teaching is corroding educational systems and depriving it of its vitality and sanctity.

Remedial teaching can be a remedy for inadequacies took place during the transferring of knowledge. But there can be no remedy if a teacher does not venture into the social, emotional, psychological factors that determines effective assimilation of transferred knowledge into the life of students. In the one-sided teaching transferred knowledge will remain as a lifeless, undigested foreign limb inside the student. Student can never apply the acquired knowledge neither for enhancement of his faculties nor for his well-being. Quality education will remain a distant dream and society will suffer from talent crunch. So solution lies in demystify teaching. Let there be clear objectives and means to asses quality in teaching. The real reforms in education should begin inside the class room. Let educational policies assume a micro level approach where each student gets his due of quality education.