Educational and Instructional Technology
Sometimes, educational and instructional technologies are confused or even misunderstood. Still, it is very important to know the definitions of both and use examples to prove the correctness of choices. Educational technology is a study that aims at facilitating learning processes and improving performance. It teaches about technology and discusses the problems of its using. Instructional technology is a combination of theory and practice to evaluate and manage learning process. In other words, it is learning process where technology is used as a tool. For example, ET should be a general concept for education: media communication or training systems; IT is a specific concept that can be used in education as an application.
Two Instructional Software
Instructional software (IS) is a kind of educational program with any possible pictures, animations, and sounds that can be used to improve student skills (Howland, Jonassen and Marra 6). Two categories of IS will be discussed: Drills and Practice Programs and Tutorials. Drills aim at providing opportunities for learners to master their skills, use knowledge, take an activity, and get a feedback that can improve the already done work. It is characterized as a directed type of strategy. The best examples are flash cards and worksheets, e.g. Starfall web-based reading practices for children of different age. This program can be used as an alternative to the worksheets that can be offered to students as test. Tutorials are the complete instructional programs for a particular topic that provide learners with entire instruction sequence. They are characterized by a comprehensive approach and can be of linear pr branching types. One of the examples is the program that helps to monitor law tutorial and understand how to connect a PC with the information mentioned in a tutorial. It is a good alternative for students to rely on if teachers or their instructions are not available at a moment.
Technology Integration Planning (TIP) is a model that provides students with the necessary guidelines on how they should understand the changes and improvements caused by technologies. This problem-solving model is used by teachers to help students satisfy their learning needs. It consists of the following stages:
- Learning and teaching needs’ analysis during which the advantages are defined;
- Integration plan helps to define objectives and think about the steps that can be more appropriate;
- Post-instructional revision aims at analyzing the results and making revisions if necessary.
The design is one of the most important factors that have to be considered while evaluating web sites. Such aspects as appearance, navigation, organization, graphics, and video/audio are usually discussed by evaluators. Any site should have a clear structure with every component holding specific items. There is no necessity to use complicated graphics and video/audio material. Learners should rely on the organization of a web site and move from one page to another clicking on hypertext/hyperlinks. There should be no mistakes or technical errors when a visitor changes the location.
Content is another important factor for the evaluation of a web site. The evaluator of content pays attention to the instructional design and the information offered to visitors. All information has to be clear, credible, and accurate. If some sources are used, it is necessary to have a reference list. The instructions should be properly organized so that the readers can have a good plan to follow and enough facts to stay motivated. For example, to be successful, the instructions should meet the standards defined by the Universal Design for Learning Model. This model offers multi options for learners and explains the goals, methods, sources, and evaluation tools to learners.
Analysis of Ministry of Education
On the example of the analysis of Ministry of Education, it is possible to demonstrate how the evaluation of a web site should be organized. First, it is necessary to admit that the chosen learning system is offered to 1-5-grade elementary school students. They have to follow the IT governmental curriculum. The site has five sections that are:
- A header with six hypertexts for each grade plus a home page;
- Left- and right-sidebars contain related IT information for visitors;
- Content area provides learners with the main facts of the chosen category;
- A footer contains contact information.
The structure of the site is clear; colors are appropriate. It is easy to read and comprehend information. Students do not face problems navigating the site. To have more detailed information, students should register (fill in Log In and Password sections). As soon as the required portion of information is given, the left sidebar is changed, and more information appears. The hyperlinks (Introduction-Lesson Outcomes-Learning Strategies-Warning Up-Lesson Content-Assessment-Wrap Up) can be found.
Evaluation of a Web Site
To prove that the chosen site is good or to explain the strong aspects of my personal web site, it is necessary to demonstrate how:
- Good the content is;
- Interesting information is;
- Proper motivation is chosen;
- Successful the design is;
- Creative the content is;
- Clear the organization of the site is;
- Captivating the look is;
- All graphics, audio and video files are related;
- Easy a learner can find the required material.
Analysis of Open Education Resources
Regarding the above-mentioned factors, the quality of Open Education Resources (OER) site can be discussed. It has a properly-designed interface and provides learners with a chance to test their background knowledge. It is also possible to leave feedbacks that can be used by learners and teachers. Besides, the developers use simple structure and well-developed instructional and technology designs. The information on different learning styles is also offered with a number of sources mentioned.
Advantage and Disadvantage in Using Technology in Teaching and Learning
The current technological progress defines the quality of education considerably. Teaching and learning processes undergo considerable changes. The main advantages are:
- Students and teachers develop their computer and technological skills that can be used in education and at work;
- Learners have access to a variety of facts from different parts of the world;
- Students and teachers can enjoy the flexibility and adaptability of a working process in a classroom;
- A new learning experience is always appreciated (Howland, Jonassen and Marra 10).
Still, there are also several disadvantages that should be mentioned:
- Additional help and explanation are usually necessary for students and teachers;
- Increased costs and training needs can be observed;
- Dependence on the Internet deprives students of the opportunity to think logically and individually;
- Isolation and lack of communication develop and are even appreciated.
Barriers to the Use of Technology in Education and Solutions
The use of technology in education is a burning issue for consideration. In spite of the fact that many institutions have already adopted the idea of technology in education, some barriers are still present and require some solutions to be offered.
- Resistance to change (not all schools, teachers, and learners, are eager to use technologies in education because they are afraid to lose their independent statuses and skills gained so far). Solution: such groups should be provided with explanations that technology should not substitute all human activities and skills but be treated as a tool to facilitate a working process.
- Additional instructions (teachers are not satisfied with the necessity to provide many oral and written instructions and consider online content). Solution: at the beginning, teachers have to find more powers and time to implement new changes; with time, their activities can be minimized considerably.
- Electricity and Internet importance (it is impossible to work without these two factors). Solution: this necessity is a good piece of motivation to start working on new ideas on how to use PCs without electricity for a long period and how to provide people with free wi-fi zones for education.
Howland, Jane.L., Jonassen, David, H., and Rose M. Marra. Meaningful Learning with Technology. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, 2011. Print.