Continuing the tradition of the 1963, 1977, and 1994 AECT projects to define the ever-changing contours of the field, the Definition and Terminology Committee completed the most recent definitional effort with the publication of Educational Technology: A Definition with Commentary in 2007. The main purpose of the 384-page book is to frame the issues confronting educational technology in the context of today’s world of education and training. What is new, and frankly, controversial, about this latest definition is its insistence that “values” are integral to the very meaning of educational technology.
The first chapter begins with the one-sentence definition of educational technology developed by the committee and approved by the AECT board of directors, and proceeds with a rationale for each of the major terms in the definition. Chapters 2-8 consist of commentaries on the key terms in the definition—what is our current understanding of facilitating learning and improving performance, of creating, using, and managing technological processes and resources? Chapter 9 directly addresses the “values” challenge by demonstrating that a number of specific value positions are inherent in any meaningful definition of educational technology.
Chapter 10 sets the historical context of the definition; Chapter 11 tells the story of AECT’s years-long effort to establish and promulgate ethical standards and practices; and Chapter 12 discusses the ramifications of the new definition for academic programs. Those interested in the “back story” of the committee’s struggles will find it in the Afterword written by the committee chair.
Each of the central chapters provides a coherent intellectual framework for its topic (learning, performance, design, utilization, management, etc.) and an authoritative review of the most relevant literature. Researchers, especially those new to each of the specialty areas, will find these literature reviews to be solid starting points for their own research conceptualizations.
For students, the book can be viewed as a small encyclopedia of the current field, a foundation and launching point for further studies in educational technology. For instructors, it serves as a snapshot of the field, offering readers a succinct survey of a complex territory—an indispensable teaching tool. For those in higher education, Chapter 12 also provides a road map for keeping academic programs relevant to evolving professional standards. Practitioners will benefit from the discussions of state-of-the art ideas regarding design, use, and management of technology for training and education; in addition, the rationales for various technology applications may provide compelling justifications for their programs and practices.
In short, Educational Technology: A Definition with Commentary is a mandatory addition to the professional library of every AECT member as well as for all students, researchers, and practitioners in educational technology.
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