A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

Using Technology to Support Education Reform -- September 1993

Chapter II: Educational Technologies

Educational technologies are not single technologies but complex combinations of hardware and software. These technologies may employ some combination of audio channels, computer code, data, graphics, video, or text. Although technology applications are frequently characterized in terms of their most obvious hardware feature (e.g., a VCR or a computer), from the standpoint of education, it is the nature of the instruction delivered that is important rather than the equipment delivering it. In this chapter, we review the history and current status of educational technologies, categorized into four basic uses: tutorial, exploratory, application, and communication. Our categories are designed to highlight differences in the instructional purposes of various technology applications, but we recognize that purposes are not always distinct, and a particular application may in fact be used in several of these ways.

Tutorial uses are those in which the technology does the teaching, typically in a lecture-like or workbook-like format in which the system controls what material will be presented to the student. In our classification scheme, tutorial uses include (1) expository learning, in which the system provides information; (2) demonstration, in which the system displays a phenomenon; and (3) practice, in which the system requires the student to solve problems, answer questions, or engage in some other procedure.

Exploratory uses of technology are those in which the student is free to roam around the information displayed or presented in the medium. Exploratory applications may promote discovery or guided discovery approaches to helping students learn information, knowledge, facts, concepts, or procedures. We also include reference applications, such as CD-ROM encyclopedias, in this category. In contrast to tutorial uses in which the technology acts on the student, in exploratory uses the student controls the learning (as in exploring microworlds or hypermedia stacks).

Application uses, such as word processors and spreadsheets, help students in the educational process by providing them with tools to facilitate writing tasks, analysis of data, and other uses. In addition to word processors and spreadsheets, applications include database management programs, graphing software, desktop publishing systems, and videotape recording and editing equipment.

Communication uses are those that allow students and teachers to send and receive messages and information to one another through networks or other technologies. Interactive distance learning via satellite, computer and modem, cable links, or other technologies constitutes another example of communication uses.

                   Table II-1. - Classification of Education Technologies  CATEGORY     DEFINITION                                 EXAMPLES  Tutorial     Systems designed to teach by 	        Computer-assisted               providing information, demonstrations,       instruction (CAI)              or simulations in a sequence deter-        Intelligent CAI              mined by the system. Tutorial systems      Instructional               may provide for expository learning          television              (the system displays a phenomenon or       Some videodisc/              procedure) and practice (the system          multimedia systems              requires the student to answer or               questions or solve problems).  Exploratory  Systems designed to facilitate student     Microcomputer-based              learning by providing information,           laboratories              demonstrations, or simulations when        Microworlds/              requested to do so by the student.           simulations                  Under student control, the system          Some videodisc/              provides the context for discovery           multimedia systems              (or guided discovery) of facts,              concepts, or procedures.  Application  General-purpose tools for accomplishing    Word processing               tasks such as composition, data storage,     software              or data analysis.                          Spreadsheet                                                           software 							Database software 							Desktop publishing 							  systems 							Video recording 							  and editing 							  equipment  Communication Systems that allow groups of teachers     Local area networks               and students to send information and      Wide area networks               data to each other through networks       Interactive                or other technologies.                      distance learning  
Table II-1 summarizes our technology classification scheme. Each of these four uses of technology in education is discussed below. A brief history of the technology use is presented, along with specific examples. A variety of media (e.g., computers, videodisc, audio) may be involved in any of these educational uses, sometimes stand-alone, other times in hybrid technology systems. Under each use, we stress examples of technology applications that are well suited for teaching advanced thinking skills, especially with educationally disadvantaged students. Finally, this survey of technologies for education concludes with a review of the availability of these technologies in schools.
[How Technology and Reform Fit Together: Contents of This Review] [Table of Contents] [Technologies for Tutorial Learning]

This page was last updated December 18, 2001 (jca)