Considering Context for Instructional Technology

http://www.wordle.netInstructional Technology (EdTech)

First thing that comes to mind when we hear Instructional Technology is a computer, mobile device, or the internet. Technology has come to mean something with circuit boards. As tools that facilitate communication and engagement with content, we can fairly include base 10 blocks, alge-tiles, globes, microscopes, paint brushes, and any other such tool. Introducing alge-tiles requires a shift in thinking from simple numerical understanding to visualization of algebraic equations. As such, the teaching and learning activities must also change to accommodate the unique requirements of the tool. There is a connection between the tool and the context in which the tool is used.

Desktop publishing with my students in the early 90s made it clear that the traditional writing process of outline, first draft, second draft, final copy didn't translate well to the digital platform. I would have students print their work at intervals with a header indicating the date and time, but it took a tremendous amount of time to track all the changes from version to version. Digital writing is a fluid process, rather like forming castles from a bunch of sand - we shape, mold, reshape, add, remove, rework again until it gets to a point where it is "good enough". The processes are different, the work flow is different, and the mindset is different. Whereas writers may have thought much more about phrasing and word choice before committing to paper, now, with digital editing, the pressure is off for initial drafts. Get the ideas out and fix it up later, is the mantra. Because a piece of digital writing can easily be edited weeks, months, or years later, only that which is printed and published is ever in a final state. While writing mechanics are the same, teaching and assessing writing in a digital space is different enough from paper and pencil to warrant contextual change.

Instructional Systems

Introducing new instructional technologies (the hardware and applications) require a consideration of the instructional systems or contexts in which it will live. Careful observation of changes to the type of engagement, evolution of traditional processes, and deployment of new strategies contribute to understandings on a systemic level of how this technology necessarily changes the design of instruction. Distinguishing between instructional technology and instructional systems is to understand the larger picture and appreciate how the context is affected by the tools that are used.

For the next couple of years much of my time will be spent on coursework as I have enrolled in George Washington University's Graduate Certificate in eLearning, the first step toward completing the Masters Degree in Education Technology Leadership. In the spirit of learning in public, I plan to use my blog as a thinking and processing space. I'll use the #GWETL tag here on the blog and the same hashtag when tweets are course related. At the moment, I'm registered in Instructional Design and Applying Educational Media and Technology


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