A HISTORY OF THE AECT’S DEFINITIONS
OF EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY
h e State University of New York at Potsdam
Kay A. Persichitte
University of Wyoming
The purpose of this chapter is to provide a historical context for the current dei nition of educational technology. We will do this in several stages. First, we will review the primary purposes and considerations for dei ning educational technology. h en, we will review each of the four previous dei nitions, paying particular attention to the primary concepts included in each dei nition. We will examine the context and rationales for decisions made regarding each of these primary concepts. We will also present some of the historical criticisms of the dei nitions which provided the impetus for changing the dei nitions.
h e criteria and purposes for producing a dei nition were discussed at the time of the writing of the i rst dei nition in 1963.
A satisfactory dei nition of instructional technology will let us i nd common ground, will propose tomorrow’s horizons, and will allow for a variety of patterns that specii c individuals may follow in specii c institutions . . . Research must be designed in terms of clear understanding of instructional technology. Superintendents of schools are requesting criteria for new personnel ER5861X_C010.indd 259 ER5861X_C010.indd 259 8/16/07 6:24:22 PM 8/16/07 6:24:22 PM260 JANUSZEWSKI AND PERSICHITTE needed in various phases of instructional improvement. Teacher-education institutions need assistance in planning courses for pre-service and in-service instruction that will provide the skills and understanding which will be required in tomorrow’s classrooms . . . Let us consider the criteria for useful dei nitions. h ey should (a) clarify the description of the i eld in ordinary language; (b) summarize existing knowledge; (c) mediate applications of knowledge to new situations; and (d) lead to fruitful lines of experimental inquiry. . . . h is report aims to provide a working dei nition for the i eld of instructional technology which will serve as a framework for future developments and lead to an improvement in instruction. (Ely, 1963, pp. 7–8) h ose involved in the writing of the 1963 dei nition obviously believed that there were a lot of things to consider when dei ning educational technology. Or put dif erently, the existence of such a dei nition would have far reaching consequences, sometimes with implications that the authors might not intend. Acknowledging this opened the door to criticisms of the dei - nitions and the purposes cited for redei ning educational technology. h e authors of subsequent dei nitions all seemed to adhere, at least in part, to the purposes and criteria identii ed in the 1963 dei nition.
The 1963 Definition
h e leadership of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) recognized the 1963 dei nition of audiovisual communications as the i rst formal dei nition of educational technology (AECT, 1977). h is dei nition, the i rst in a series of four oi cially sanctioned dei nitions, was developed by the Commission on Dei nition and Terminology of the Department of Audiovisual Instruction (DAVI) of the National Education Association (NEA) and supported by the Technological Development Project (TDP). In 1963 audiovisual communications was the label that was used to describe the i eld as it was evolving from the audiovisual education movement to educational technology:
Audiovisual communications is that branch of educational theory and practice primarily concerned with the design and use of messages which control the learning process. It undertakes: (a) the study of the unique and relative strengths and weaknesses of both pictorial and nonrepresentational messages which may be employed in the learning process for any purpose; and (b) the structuring and systematizing of messages by men and instruments in an...