Saturday, September 29, 2007

Dare I Blow Your Mind?

As some of you know, I'm currently enrolled in graduate classes at Utah State University where I'm working toward a Masters in Education in Instructional Technology. I've already completed my courses for the Library Media Endorsement that accompanies this masters. This term I'm taking classes in Instructional Design, and recently I had to write a research paper for one of my classes. I thought I'd post it here for anyone who dares to read it. I just hope it doesn't blow your mind like it fried mine during the writing process!

The relatively new field of Instructional Technology has no single universally accepted definition. “One type of definition equates instructional technology with a particular set of instructional media, often referred to as audiovisual devices. The other type of definition describes instructional technology as a process often labeled the systems approach process.” (Reiser, 1987, p. 11) Other sources define the field as, “The use of a systematic approach to creating and delivering instruction” (Rosenberg, 1999, p. 27), “a blend of psychology, educational, communications, management, systems theory, and social science” (Shiffman, 1995, pg.132), and the definition prepared by the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) Definitions and Terminology Committee is as follows: “Instructional Technology is the theory and practice of design, development, utilization, management, and evaluation of processes and resources for learning.” (Seels & Richey, 1994, pp. 1-9).

According to Dr. Deepak Subramony, (Utah State University, 2007) educational technology “combines and applies instructional, learning, developmental, managerial, and other technologies . . . to the solution of educational problems.” The layperson often confuses the area of study with technology education, which is learning about and operating various forms of technology. This classification is more in line with the instructional media application of audiovisual devices. AECT states, “Educational technology is a complex, integrated process involving people, procedures, ideas, devices, and organization, for analyzing problems, involved in all aspects of human learning.” (AECT, 1977, p. 1) Educational technology, therefore, not only becomes the heart of educational lesson design, but also allows for application in the business world.

One of the earliest fields within educational technology was instructional systems design (ISD), developed by the United States military during World War II. Although several models of instructional development are used in schools today (Essential Elements of Instruction, Collaborative Education, Project-Based Learning, Outcome Based Education) the most common model in instructional technology courses seems to be the ADDIE Model, “analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation.” (Strickland, 2006).

Three main theoretical schools---Behaviorism, Cognitivism, and Constructivism---are present in both psychology and educational technology literature. The Encyclopedia of Educational Technology places the theories and practices into six categories: “cognition and learning, analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation.” (SDSU Department of Technology, 2007), thus, affirming the use of the ADDIE model by its organization.

Instructional Technology

A subset of Educational Technology, instructional technology is more than exclusively the use of technological hardware in the classroom. The field has expanded, requiring its own subsets including human performance technology for the pure management of the research and application of the new concepts. Because of the labor shortage in the U. S. during World War II, instructional technology came to the forefront as a way to provide methodology for training workers in a systematic and efficient manner. Defined as, “the systemic and systematic application of strategies and techniques derived from behavior and physical sciences concepts and other knowledge to the solution of instructional problems” (University of Wyoming, 2004), instructional technology went beyond theory to the practice of design, development, utilization, management and evaluation of resources and processes for learning.

Performance Technology

Performance Technologies, often referred to as Human Performance Technology, are systems where thinking is applied to human resource activities or “the systematic set of methods, procedures, and strategies for solving human performance problems.” (Talaq & Ahmed, 2004) As an example, the layman might remember seeing the 1950 version of Cheaper by the Dozen based on the book by Frank B. Gilbreth and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, which depicts the life and research of their father, Frank Gilbreth, a pioneer in the field of motion study who often used his family as guinea pigs with amusing and sometimes embarrassing results. As other psychologists such as B.F. Skinner studied the way people learned, educators moved from the simple model of apprenticeship toward programmed instruction. Soon the importance of instructional feedback and reinforcement were noted, ideas were shared, and systematic approaches were created to deliver instruction. These approaches are now known as instructional technology or instructional design systems. “Task analysis became critical as instructional technologists realized the need to identify, before instruction was designed, what they intended to teach people to do.” (Rosenberg, 1999, 27).

Relationship of ET, IT, PT

As one considers the relationship among educational technology, instructional technology, and performance technology, the first apparent similarity is their reliance on the definition of technology. Accepting that the meaning can be something deeper than just the manipulation of devices such as computers, projectors, or audio devices, technology must also include the system or process by which information is learned, then applied in a variety of situations.

Educational technologies may include systems other than those directly related to instruction. Instructor policies and procedures, library media acquisition and availability, and school adopted mission statements are all areas that are important to the educational community, but that are not necessarily taught to students as part of the learning goals.

Educational technology solves educational problems. Instructional technology is a subset of educational technology, meant to solve instructional problems. Going beyond just theory, instructional technology allows the means for educators and those in the business world to study a problem, then craft ways to present information that allows success in not only learning, but also applying information to increase performance quality. As Dr. Subramony explained in class, “Sex education is about attitudes and values, whereas sex instruction is about How-To concepts, principles, and training procedures.” This is where performance technology ties in. Our world is always looking for ways to build the proverbial better mousetrap. The worker who is trained to use information in the most time efficient manner becomes an asset in the workplace.


Despite the narrow view that society has of instructional technology, the study and implementation of design models such as ADDIE can increase proficiency levels for students by giving the instructor more focus and direction when preparing educational materials.


Association for Educational Communications and Technology. (1977). The definition of educational technology: a summary. In The definition of educational technology, (pp. 1-16). Washington, D.C.: AECT.

Gilbreth, Frank B. & Carey, Ernestine Gilbreth. (1948). Cheaper by the Dozen. New York, T.Y. Crowell Co.

Reisner, Robert A. (1987). Instructional technology: a history. In R.M. Gagne (Ed.), Instructional Technology: Foundations (pp. 11-48). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. 

Rosenberg, M. J., Coscarelli, W. C., & Hutchinson, C. S. (1999). The origins and evolution of the field. Ch. 2 in Stolovitch & Keeps (Eds.) Handbook of human performance technology, 2nd ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

San Diego State University. (2007). Encyclopedia of Educational Technology. Retrieved September 15, 2007, from

Seels, Barbara B. & Richey, Rita C. (1994). Instructional technology: the definition and domains of the field. Washington, D. C.: Association for Educational Communications and Technology.

Shiffman, Shirl S. (1995). Instructional Systems Design: Five Views of the Field. In G.J. Anglin (Ed.), Instructional Technology: Past, Present, and Futurend ed.) (pp. 131-142). Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited. (2

Strickland, A.W. (2006). ADDIE. Idaho State University College of Education Science, Math & Technology Education. Retrieved September 15, 2007, from

Talaq, Jaleel & Ahmed, Pervaiz K. (2004). Why HPT, not TQM? An examination of theHPT concept. Journal of Management Development, Vol. 23 Issue 3, 202 – 218. Retrieved September 15, 2007, from Emerald database.

University of Wyoming (2004). College of Education Department of Adult Learning & Technology. Retrieved September 15, 2007, from

Monday, September 3, 2007

Cleaning House the Clean Sweep Way

Just letting all of you know about my latest national publication.

Visit Desert Saints Magazine at the following link: