#edtech for #IT: On Instructional Technology

Of the digital information technology available in schools a part is used by teachers and learners for their interactions; this is the technology I define as instructional technology. The technology that falls into this category must be affordable, usable, and operational and used to engage learners.

Affordable. Traditionally, schools have small budgets for technology, and the demands placed on those budgets make resource allocation a challenge for school leaders. The problem of paying for technology is intensified by the ancillary expenses, especially those necessary for networking networking, related to technology that can increase the actual cost of maintaining and using a computer by several factors over the original purchase price. Because of these factors, school leaders and technology planners must ensure devices that are purchased for schools are both affordable and place minimal demands on the infrastructure and other support services in the budget.

Usable. Because the audiences in schools are typically youngsters and adults whose professional preparation was in a field other than information technology, digital information technology used in schools, especially software must be made “user-friendly.” A number of factors that influence users’ interactions with unfamiliar technologies have been identified, including usability or the extent to which the technology contributes to the user completing their job.

Operational.  Although operational technology may seem an obvious need for successful integration of technology into education, a lack of support for maintaining and repairing technology has been recognized as an obstacle to the use of technology by teachers.

Engaging learners.  Of the technology available in a school, some is used by students, and some is not; only that which is used by students can be considered instructional technology. The nature of learners’ engagement with technology has become the subject of a good deal of study and thought among educational technologists and educators in recent years.  A teacher or a student simply using a computer does not make its use engaging and effective.