The world is not the same as it was fifty years ago. The fourth industrial revolution has arrived and it will fundamentally change the way we create, live, and educate. All the while, we are witnessing a generation of full ‘digital natives’ entering higher education and soon populating the workforce. According to Weigel, James, and Gardner (2009), American youth are introduced to digital media at relatively young ages and spend more time engaging with digital media at critical developmental stages than their older counterparts did. This is a critical time for education and, appropriately, integrating technology should be the response.
The main goal of educational technology is harnessing the power of technology to make teaching and learning compatible with the reality our graduates will face when they leave school. Every major area of society – business, government, culture – are all experiencing rapid changes due to technological progress. We need to give our students skills and knowledge that will allow them to find themselves useful and capable in such a society. Unlike popular, albeit wrong belief, educational technology is not just technological devices and tools thrown on top of educational practices. Educational technology is technology resources leveraged to support educational practices. Technological knowledge and tools have to be integrated with the subject content and good pedagogy in order to have any positive effect on student learning (Roblyer & Hughes, 2018). This is reflected in the field of instructional design, where educational technology represents systematic approaches to analyze learning needs, design, develop, implement, and evaluate teaching and learning (Larson & Lockee, 2014).
Educational technology allows for many improvements to traditional tech-less approach to education. It is capable of enhancing pedagogy and providing educators with better tools for student engagement and assessment. It helps with amplifying student voice and enables learning inquiry to be effective and meaningful. It allows for data collection on a scale never seen before, which in turn can provide educators with quality information for truly personalized learning. Educational technology has another great use – bringing education to those do not have an adequate access to education. In 2015, 667 million people aged 15 or older had no education (Lutz, Butz, & KC, 2014) and over 60 million children of primary age were out of school (World Bank, 2017). The rise of online learning, widespread internet coverage, and ever-decreasing cost of devices can solve the problem of educational access.
Over the decades, the field of Educational Technology has had many contributions from prominent scholars who were both objectivists and constructivists. However, the environment in which it operated was different from what we have today. Today’s job market does not call for rigid knowledge and one enduring set of skills. It requires self-motivation, metacognition, constant learning, and skills for complex problem-solving and collaboration. Constructivist theory of learning fits these modern requirements better than any other theory. There is, however, an important place for objectivist-based directed pedagogy. For novice learners who have low levels of prior knowledge with the content (Larson & Lockee, 2018, p. 80), and under some other circumstances, employing the directed approach will work best. Using both approaches in different learning environments and for different needs will give educators flexibility to meet the learning objectives.
Larson, M. B., & Lockee, B. B. (2014). Streamlined Id: A Practical Guide to Instructional Design.
Lutz, W., Butz, W. P., & KC, S. (Eds.). (2014). World Population and Human Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.
Roblyer, M. D., & Hughes, J. E. (2018). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (8 edition). New York: Pearson.
Weigel, M., James, C., & Gardner, H. (2009). Learning: Peering Backward and Looking Forward in the Digital Era. International Journal of Learning and Media, 1, 9.
World Bank. (2017, June 14). Education Statistics (EdStats) | Data Catalog. Retrieved August 29, 2018, from https://datacatalog.worldbank.org/dataset/education-statistics