Instructional Technology

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There are two views for the definition of technology. Traditionalists view it as the systematic application of science to practical problems. A more contemporary view is that technology is the application of knowledge so that it can be built from one generation to the next (Braudel in Seels & Richey, p. 7). The second view is not synonymous with integration, although it certainly does have implications for integration, but in a systematic way. As such, technology includes tools, processes, applications, skills and organization. Technology in education or instruction is more than the technical application of tools, machines, computers, products and communication systems (such as multimedia, computerized instruction, games, simulations or interactive video). It also encompasses the "application of the principles of science in order to solve learning problems..." (Seels & Richey, p.6).

Historically, Instructional Technology (IT) grew out of audiovisual communications and according to Seels & Richey (1994) Jim Finn is credited with initiating the development of the field of Instructional Technology in response to his desire to make audiovisual communications a profession.

IT meets most or all of the six characteristics of a profession as described by James Finn (1969):

  • An intellectual technique
  • An application of that technique
  • A long period of training
  • An association of members
  • Enforced standards and a statement of ethics
  • A body of intellectual theory (p. 232)

At the time of Finn's writing (1927), he noted that of the six defining characteristics of a profession, IT only possessed two. Finn believed that IT would become more credible and professional as more members of the field participated in activities that supported the aforementioned characteristics.


The field of Instructional Technology is not synonymous with the use of technology in education; instead, it is a discipline, a field of study, a craft, and an art.

In 1994, the Association for Education Communications and Technology (AECT) defined Instructional Technology as "the theory and practice of design, development, utilization, management and evaluation of processes and resources for learning" (Seels & Richey, p. 1). This definition emphasized the need for balance between the field's theory base and practical use. Additionally, it outlined the domains IT seeks to influence while also establishing that these domains do not exist in a linear relationship to each other. The domains are conceived as independent of each other but connected.

As reflected in the list of topics below, the interests of IT are broad and varied, encompassing a wide range of topics related to practice, application and theory. This book is a collaborative effort between graduate students in the Instructional Technology program at Wayne State University to provide an introduction to the field of Instructional Technology.

Topics[edit]

Instructional Design[edit]

Theories, Models, and Leaders in the Field[edit]

Human Performance Technology[edit]

Distance or Web-Based Learning[edit]

Instructional Technology[edit]

LMS, LMCS, and Reusable Learning Objects[edit]

A Professional Field: Instructional Technology[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

Ely, D. (1999). Toward a philosophy of instructional technology: thirty years on. British Journal of Educational Technology v30 no4 (pp.305-10).

Finn, J. D. (1969). Professionalizing the audio-visual field. In D. P. Ely & T. Plomp (Eds.), Classic writings on instructional technology. Volume 1 (pp. 231-241). Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, Inc.

Rowland, G.(1993). "Designing and Instructional Design.". Educational technology research and development (1042-1629), 41 (1), p. 79.

Seels, B. B. & Richey, R. C. (1994). Instructional technology: The definition and domains of the field. Bloomington, IN: Association for Educational Communications and Technology.

Smith, P. L. & Ragan, T. J. (2005). Instructional Design. Third edition. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Solomon, D. L. (2000). Philosophical inquiry in instructional technology: the forgotten pathway to learning. Paper presented at the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) 2000 International Convention (22nd, Long Beach, CA, February 16-20, 2000).

See also[edit]