The front end of the article authored by M Eraut, entitled “Educational technology: Conceptual frameworks and historical development” (Eraut, 1994), was somewhat confusing for me in that the introduction and early history was hard to follow. There are many new names and concepts introduced in this article that I have not heard of before this course. The front end of the article serves as an ‘introductory survey course’. It would be great to have an overall introduction to the field of instructional design and learning technologies at the beginning of the Master’s degree program. After taking Masters and Ph.D. courses I have been introduced to some of these founders. My overall impression is that the author, M Eraut, should have expanded this article into a textbook so that he could have expanded on the content.
In the ‘Early Developments’ section the author identifies an issue that I wrestle with in my own research endeavors. Here he identifies “communication theorists have shown that there is a limit to the amount of information that can be received and processed at any one time” (Eraut, 1994, p. 1884). What was identified then in 1994 is much more relevant today. With the growth of new technologies, knowledge, and data content there are significant demands on the individual to keep up with the cognitive load. The article focuses on the transition from audio/visual technologies of the late 20th century into the yet to be discovered impact of the exponential growth of the digital/computer age.
Eraut’s identified a primary argument of James Finn that while “many areas of North American society are being transformed by technology, but it is inevitable that education would eventually undergo a similar transformation” (Eraut, 1994, p. 1884). To that predictive point, education is still catching up to the transformation. Much of the content of the article is informational, touching on various concepts with the associated definitions. The concepts are presented in relation to expanding the landscape related to the growth of educational technologies. No data analysis is presented in association with the exploration of educational technologies.
As the author addresses the ‘systems approach’ he discusses the relationships related to a systems engineering approach which is identified as “a set of principles, a scheme, method” (Eraut, 1994, p. 1886). The concepts of engineering, as many define it, typically refer to science, electrical, mechanical, chemistry, and biology. There is an interchange of man, machine, ideas, procedures, and management. All of these concepts relate to technology where “the central problem of education is not learning, but the management of learning” (Eraut, 1994, p. 1887).
There is this gray zone where education technologies cozy up to those other engineering professions. Much of “systems engineering (operations research) found its success in military and aerospace sectors as well as many applications in industry” (Eraut, 1994, p. 1887). Educational technologies have a significant challenge to transition into the engineering sector. The author defines aspects of engineering, but does not fully develop how instructional technologies equate to an engineering discipline. Instructional technology like educational technology and related to systems engineering is a “systematic way of designing, carrying out, and evaluating the total process of learning and teaching in terms of specific objectives based on research in human learning and communication” (Eraut, 1994, p. 1889).
The author’s contention is that “educational technology has been, often justifiably, accused of being a solution in search of a problem” (Eraut, 1994, p. 1892). In relation to education technology’s association with an engineering discipline, there is uncertainty about the systems approach to the educational discipline. I don’t see where the author fully addresses these concerns so as to justify educational technologies being associated with an engineering discipline. I suggest that an approach that is supportive of the positivist paradigm is a good place to start by incorporating experimental, quasi-experimental, and direct observation methods of research analysis. However, much of the current research focuses on a non-positivist approach where the research focus is on subjectivity and relative properties.
The author discusses the need to “work toward future needs, where societies are increasingly looking to their education systems to develop independence and collaboration, and the appropriate use of learning resources” (Eraut, 1994, p. 1896). The concept of developing effective educational technologies is not fully defined in this article. The concepts are presented without providing a specific path forward to meet these goals, hence the earlier contention still stands that education needs to reinvent its capabilities and its technological effectiveness. One thing is certain, change takes time and persistence.
This article is salvageable in that there is a lot of historical and informational details. With the introduction of many concepts and research contributors, the overall article would be best served if it were expanded or a more focused in its presentation. This assessment would impact the literature review and its overall structure. The author should have provided a separate and detail conclusion in order to restate the key points and focus of the article.
Eraut, M., (1994). Educational technology: Conceptual frameworks and historical development. The international encyclopedia of education, 2, 1882-1899.