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School of Education

Educational Technology Foundations

Module 2: History

The field of educational technology has a rich history that has been documented extensively in the research literature. According to a research team led by Gilbert Valdez at the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL), there have been three distinct phases in technology uses and expectations: Print Automation, Expansion of Learning Opportunities, and Data-Driven Virtual Learning. In each of these phases, Valdez asks the following questions:

  1. What evidence is there that the use of computer-based technology in each phase has a positive effect on learning?
  2. What significance do the findings from each phase have for educators today as they try to make technology-related decisions that have an impact on student learning?
The Valdez report has been updated and is currently available as Using Technology in Education. Read this report and reflect on the extent to which it addresses these questions. Based on your knowledge of educational technology, do you believe the report is historically accurate? Is its categorization conceptually correct? Are there other important questions that should be addressed? Be prepared to discuss your views either in class or in the course discussion forum.

Print Automation

According to Valdez, instruction in Phase I was characterized by the use of behavioral-based branching software that relied heavily on drill and practice to teach segmented content and/or skills.

Learner Centered

During Phase II, Valdez observes that computers became tools for learner-centered practices rather than content delivery systems, helping teachers move from largely isolated learning activities to applications that involved working in groups.

Data Driven

According to Valdez, Phase III carries with it the additional expectation of making schools more effective through the use of data-driven decision making of a much more sophisticated nature than previously expected. Ideally both teachers and students have access to the data and use it to meet accountability expectations.

Twenty Subsequent Years of Ed Tech

In celebration of their twentieth anniversary in 2018, Educause published the following review of 20 technologies that came to prominence, one per year in every year since Educause was founded in 1998. Reading this article will help you understand the timing and evolution of these important inventions, many of which are now in the mainstream of ed tech practice today. The following bibliographic reference contains a link that you can follow to bring these twenty years of ed tech onto your screen.