Academic journal article The Technology Teacher

Clarifying Misconceptions between Technology Education and Educational Technology

Academic journal article The Technology Teacher

Clarifying Misconceptions between Technology Education and Educational Technology

Article excerpt

Only you will assume the responsibility to educate others about the importance of technology education in schools today.

There is much confusion today when attempting to understand the differences between technology education and educational technology. Both are important components of education; however, the confusion harms both fields of study. This article will provide clarification about the purpose and direction of technology education and educational technology as well as the standards used in both educational areas.

Technology, Technology Education, and Technological Literacy

First let's familiarize ourselves with some fundamental definitions related to technology, technology education, and technological literacy. According to the International Technology Education Association's Standards for Technological Literacy: Content for the Study of Technology (STL), "Technology is the modification of the natural environment to satisfy perceived human wants and needs" (ITEA, 2000, p. 9). This modification of the natural environment (nature) may be characterized as "human innovation in action." Technology education (sometimes referred to as technological studies) is "a study of technology which provides an opportunity for students to learn about the processes and knowledge related to technology that are needed to solve problems and extend human potential" (ITEA, 2000, p. 242). As a result of studying technology in grades K-12, students gain a level of technological literacy, which may be described as one's ability "to use, manage, assess, and understand technology" (ITEA, 2000, p. 9).

Technology education is concerned with the broad spectrum of technology, which encompasses, but is not limited to, such areas as: design, making, problem solving, technological systems, resources and materials, criteria and constraints, processes, controls, optimization and trade-offs, invention, and many other human topics dealing with human innovation. Technology has both positive and negative effects on society, and conversely, society impacts technology in many ways. A good example is the cessation of building new nuclear power plants in the U.S. over the past few years, which are now being reconsidered because of power shortages in certain sections of the country. The technologically designed world includes major areas that have characteristics that define it and distinguish it from others. Some examples of major areas that could be included in a taxonomy of the designed world are medical technologies, agricultural and related biotechnologies, energy and power technologies, information and communication technologies, transportation technologies, manufacturing technologies, and construction technologies. These areas are not totally inclusive or mutually exclusive since there is obviously some overlap and interplay between them. However, they represent the dynamic and the broad spectrum of technology that permeates our world today. We can be assured that technology in the future will play a more demanding role as it affects us as individuals as well as our society and our environment. We know that our world will be very different 10 or 20 years from now. We have no choice about that. We do, however, have a choice whether we march into that world with our eyes open, deciding for ourselves how we want it to be, or whether we let it propel us, ignorant and helpless to understand where we're going or why. The study of technology that provides technological literacy through technology education will make a difference.

Educational Technology

Educational technology is sometimes referred to as instructional technology or informational technology. A very careful analysis of words and terms related to educational technology gives one a better understanding of the differences between it and technology education. Educational technology is concerned with technology in education. It is involved in the use of technology as a "tool" to enhance the teaching and learning process across all subject areas. …

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