Like the technological innovations which enhance
performance in all sectors of economic and social activities, educational technology has developed over the last thirty years
and ultimately improved the quality and efficiency of education and learning, educational management and research. However,
this technology is perceived in diverse ways by authors and users. According to Thomas and Kobayashi (1987), educational technology
represents several things to different people. Thus, it is often mistaken for high technology products and their implication
in the education sector. To the less informed ones, educational technology represents nothing other than the use of audiovisual
equipment and/or micro computers for teaching purposes. Gagne and Reiser (1987) maintain that people usually understand educational
technology as the use of communication media for educational purposes.
Whereas certain specialists have a very good understanding
of the concept of educational technology, others are less informed about the concept, particularly in the developing countries
where it is relegated to a mere notion of material products. With this confusion arising from interpretation, we wondered
how educational technology could be basically explained to smooth away the situation and demonstrate the relevance of educational
technology to a developing country.
This article seeks to clear up the inherent lack
of understanding. In this regard, we have drawn on the points of view expressed by various authors in identifying the concepts
of technology and educational technology. We have also tried to examined the possible distinction to be made between technology
as a product and technology as a process. This brief conceptualization of technology enabled us to explain how educational
technology can help in promoting education in developing countries. Finally, we have explained the extent to which it can
help teachers to plan case studies to improve the learning process. However, before presenting the concept of educational
technology, we digressed to focus on technology itself: we did so because, on the one hand, an analysis of all aspects of
technology brings the problem of technology into focus straightaway; on the other hand, it constitutes the first origin of
educational technology, as established by Gagne (1987) and Lapointe (1993). Consequently, a convincing conceptualization of
educational technology should start with that of technology itself.
In other words, this article first attempts to
explain educational technology by defining its concept and analyzing some aspects of the said technology that help in promoting
education in the third-world countries. With this explanation, we wish to first iron out the lack of understanding of the
concept of educational technology in developing countries and then demonstrate the theoretical and methodological contribution
this technology makes towards the preparation of an instructional design aimed at improving learning and promoting its transfer.
THE CONCEPT OF EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY
As in the case of technology itself, there is no
universal definition for educational technology because the concept has been defined in numerous and diverse ways in the literature.
Non specialist educationists generally consider educational technology as the use of microcomputers and audiovisual equipment
in particular. Rheaume (1993) observes that, to certain teachers, the term "educational technology" refers to materials or
equipment. Some of them define the field in terms of audiovisual products and the media. Others lay emphasis on programmed
learning and observable behaviour (Stolovitch and La Rocque, 1988).The confusion becomes more obvious in the case of non-teaching
staff outside the domain of specialists. This is because when you ask to know what educational technology represents, you
can be taken as far as possible with a long lecture on what can be achieved through technology. Stolovitch and La Rocque observed
that non educationists manifest an almost complete ignorance about technology issues.
For their part, specialists consider educational
technology as an intellectual process and practice that addresses the needs of learners and those of teachers to enable them
to determine precisely the objectives of learning as well as the means of achieving them (stolovitch and La Rocque, 1988;
Lapointe, 1993). Finally, Thomas and Kobayashi (1987) maintain that educational technology is a complex integrated process
whereby problems connected with all aspects of learning are conceptualized, analyzed, established and resolved through interaction
between people, techniques, ideas and resources within an organizational framework.
With these definitions, it is noticed that, far
from representing the mere use of the media and other tools for instructional purposes, as purported by certain people, educational
technology is rather a scientific process whereby human and material resources are used to enhance efficiency in teaching,
training and learning. Let us now consider what is meant by technology as a product and technology as a process.
TECHNOLOGY AS A PRODUCT
Technology as a product is the end result of the
systematic application of scientific knowledge in finding practical solutions to specific problems. As a product, educational
technology can include teaching procedures, practices and materials. Consequently, the inputs from technological developments
comprise, on the one hand, non-physical products (programmed learning, individualized learning, teaching skills, the use of
computers in learning, computer-assisted education, comprehensive educational syllabi or curricula, multimedia, etc.);they
also include, physical products such as microcomputers, mainframe computers, video cassette recorders, radio and television
sets, video-tape recorders, tape recorders, overhead projectors, photographic slides, electronic acetates, etc..).
Some authors adds to this list of products, language,
writing case, pencil, paper, books, newspapers and films. Finally, these tools facilitate education and learning and also
enhance the performances resulting from the cost of education.
TECHNOLOGY AS A PROCESS
Viewed from the angle of process dynamics, educational
technology is an approach geared towards finding and improving solutions so it should not be associated with products of such
technology. It therefore includes functions connected with the management of organizations and human resources, research (the
setting of theories, rational methods and practices related to the techniques of education and learning), logistics, the use
and establishment of systems (Gagne, 1987; Winn, 1991; Lapointe 1993).
Moreover, it is these different functions, together
with the systematic analysis and design, that distinguish educational technology from the traditional approaches. In other
words, educational technology is:
- systematic, in the sense that it uses a rationalized and structured technique as opposed to the
activities organised intuitively, haphazardly or without proper management (Stolovitch and La Rocque, 1988);
- communicative, because any medium used is oriented towards the objectives of the educational
design to guarantee the efficiency, economy and enhanced output of the selected model;
- scientific, in so far as all the decisions on the design and choice of medium are also taken
in terms of the objectives and instructional design and in accordance with the most proven results of the learning process;
- systemic, because it allows for the constant analysis of the problem of learning in its entirety.
Thus, in a systemic process, every solution to a problem comprises interrelated elements and is exclusively envisaged as part
of the given problem.
The systemic approach is therefore one way of examining
globally and not in isolation , a set of elements interacting in a given environment to promote learning (Stolovitch and Keeps,
1993; Garavaglia, 1993). With respect to methodology, Stolovitch and La Rocque (1988) consider the systemic approach as a
process connected with the planning and operation of a system are identified and analyzed. The main concepts of this approach
- the phenomenon of self-regulation or feedback;
- the control unit which takes account of information and
- the energy required to operate the system and facilitate its adaptation to the surrounding environment.
Consequently, any inappropriate interaction between
the control unit and the feedback mechanism or any inconvenient readjustment deregulates and disintegrates the system (ibid).
Moreover, educational technology requires three operational phases to establish a given system; analysis, design and evaluation
(Gagne, 1987, Gagne and Glaser, 1988, Stolovitch and Keeps, 1993).
- The analytic phase precedes the model design phase and comprises seven stages of which five cover
the analysis itself (preliminary analysis, target clientele analysis, contextual analysis) while two cover summary operations;
a. the preliminary analysis covers the phase during which the technologists determines
the difference between the real needs of the target clientele in relation to the knowledge acquired and the knowledge to be
b. in studying the target audience, the technologist tries to acquaint himself
with the learner through his/her aptitudes and features that are most likely to interact with the other components of the
c. in the contextual analysis phase, the technologist identifies not only the contextual
and environmental conditions underscoring the educational situation; however, it also presents a better enlightenment through
the data collected to examine the manner in which the model to be designed is harmonized correctly and naturally;
d. the job analysis enables the technologist to make an in-depth study of the instructional
information to be imparted to the learner;
e. the concept analysis consists in examining the content so as to identify the
f. Stolovitch and Keeps (1993) propose the preparation of a summary programme,
plan of action and results of all the analyses conducted previously;
g. whether it is intended for a course or training session, before preparing the
appraisal report, the technologist should systematically prepare in a graphic form, a list of all the principal activities
to be accomplished, together with the duration, site and the agents involved.
- During the design phase, the technologist specifies the objectives of learning, prepares criteria
tests, determines the teaching method, strategy and framework; he also selects the media and system of presentation, prepares
a draft design, determines the set-up and production plan of the prototype. The technologist therefore considers this phase
as the occasion to propose an operational model that normally includes solutions to the issue examined.
- This design phase precedes the design evaluation, set-up and monitoring phase during which the
possible anomalies are detected and necessary corrections are made before the system is put into operation. It is because,
to prevent potential failures, the technologist should check his prototype with the help of experts, learners and/or colleagues
and make possible adjustments before the final product is adopted, distributed and set up – as stipulated by Stolovitch
and La Rocque (1988) and by Stolovitch and Keeps (1993). To ensure the smooth execution of this phase, all the preceding phases
have to be implemented.
To sum up, the myriad definitions given in the
writings do not facilitate the understanding of the concept of educational technology. For one thing, while some authors base
their definition on the application of scientific results and the empirical process whereby knowledge is acquired, others
base their definitions on all the skills required in creating, designing, using and improving teaching methods. However, upon
analysis, the writings show that educational technology is not only a physical object. It can be a product (physical or non-physical)
as well as process. It also allows for the systematic application of theory to practical work in order to allow for the adoption
and design of the most effective teaching methods possible according to the set objectives and the circumstances under which
teaching should be conducted. Educational technology also entails the use of all available resources (human, non-human and
the media) in attaining the set goals. Finally, it requires, as far as possible, that educational decisions be based on research
results and first geared towards improving and facilitating learning.This brief presentation of concepts concerning educational
technology, which we have just made was intended to explain what this technology is (as summed up in the table below). It
would now be interesting to consider what educational technology can represent for developing countries. However, the research
into the relevance of such technology to developing countries inevitably poses the problem of its transfer