What is Instructional Technology?
Instructional technology involves using an assortment of teaching tools to enhance student learning. In days gone past, technology included transparencies and overhead projectors, film strips and projectors, and slideshows. In today's classroom, these tools may include a range of items, from calculators and PowerPoint presentations, to laptops and other electronic devices.
In the virtual or e-learning environment, instructional technology encompasses computer-based courses, online databases, and synchronous (real time or direct) and asynchronous (indirect) teaching and learning. Synchronous learning requires participation in events such as live discussions, chat sessions, or real-time lectures. Asynchronous learning materials are available online at the learner’s convenience, and include such items as assignments, resources, discussion boards, and previously recorded lectures or presentations.
Technology in the classroom has changed dramatically over the last 20 years with the increase in use of mobile devices and the utilization of information acquisition from the internet. Many schools are taking advantage of and seeking ways to blend the learning environment. This leads to the implementation of virtual, digital, or e-learning opportunities. Students in the 21st Century are expecting access to instruction and classroom resources in a 24/7 environment.
How Instructional Technology Enhances Education
Instructional technology is more than the implementation of digital textbooks. The digital age has brought more and more technology to the forefront in regards to technology access in the classroom. The U.S. Department of Education recognized the importance of incorporating technology in the classroom when it released its National Educational Technology Goals in 2000.
According to various reports and highlighted in the previously mentioned government report, instructional technology provides the following benefits and outcomes:
- Increased access to ongoing, updated information and knowledge
- Acquisition of information literacy
- Elevated retention rate of materials studied
- Improved comprehension of difficult concepts
- Higher test scores
- Preparedness for the workforce
The role of instructional technology in the classroom continues to expand and evolve as teachers seek to individualize and maximize student learning.