In education, instructional technology is "the theory and practice of design, development, utilization, management, and evaluation of processes and resources for learning," according to the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) Definitions and Terminology Committee. Instructional technology is often referred to as a part of educational technology but the use of these terms has changed over the years. While instructional technology covers the processes and systems of learning and instruction, educational technology includes other systems used in the process of developing human capability.
The first use of instructional technology cannot be attributed to a specific person or time. Many histories of instructional technology start in the early 20th century, while others go back to the 17th century. This depends on the definition of instructional technology. Definitions that focus on a systems approach tend to reach further back in history, while those definitions focused on sensory devices are more recent.
The use of audio and visual instruction was boosted as a military response to the problems of a labor shortage during World War II in the United States. There was a definitive need to fill the factories with skilled labor. Instructional technology provided a methodology for training in a systematic and efficient manner.
With it came the use of highly structured manuals, instructional films, and standardized tests. Thomas Edison saw the value of instructional technology in films but did not formalize the science of instruction as the US military did so well.
Instructional technology is a growing field of study which uses technology as a means to solve educational challenges, both in the classroom and in distance learning environments.
While instructional technology promises solutions to many educational problems, resistance from faculty and administrators to the use of technology in the classroom is not unusual. This reaction can arise from the belief--or fear--that the ultimate aim of instructional technology is to reduce or even remove the human element of instruction. However, most instructional technologists would counter that education will always require human intervention from instructors or facilitators.
Many graduate programs are producing instructional designers, who increasingly are being employed by industry and universities to create materials for distance education programs. These professionals often employ e-learning tools, which provide distance learners the opportunity to interact with instructors and experts in the field, even if they are not located physically close to each other.
More recently a new form of Instructional technology known as Human Performance Technology has evolved. HPT focuses on performance problems and deals primarily with corporate entities.
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