Task 1: Define Instructional Technology

 Point Value: 15  Due: January 30


This task requires you to define the field of instructional technology. However, this task does not involve regurgitating a textbook definition of the field. There are plenty of those. For example, Cass G. Gentry (1995) offers seven definitions of instructional technology (IT) and five definitions of educational technology (ET). He views IT as "a term often used interchangeably with educational technology" that "presents refinements not found in the meaning of educational technology" (p. 5).

These refinements are quite subtle in my opinion but one general trend appears to be that the IT folks view themselves as more "scientific" and the ET folks are more prone to acknowledge the "artistic" (craft) nature of the field. In the end, with respect to defining instructional technology, I find myself agreeing with Gentry who writes that "it is possible to see that meaning [of IT or ET] depends considerably on what part of the elephant is being touched and by whom" (p. 4).

Therefore, your main challenge is to define instructional technology from your personal perspective. The task also involves producing a web page to convey your definition. Some people in this class are already experienced web page developers whereas others may have never authored a page before. Thus, there will be differences in the "bells and whistles" some people include in their web sites based upon differences in experience and skills. This will be taken into account when assessing the final definition.

Information about creating web pages will be shared in class, but there are also many web sites about creating web pages. A good place to start is the famous Web Style Guide from Yale University. Another great starting point is the Elements of Web Design from CNET.

Many people prefer to use Netscape Composer, a free web page authoring tool that comes with the Netscape Browser, to create their web pages. Netscape provides information about this tool at a web site titled Composing and Editing Web Pages. Additional information about Composer can be found at the Netscape Composer Tutorial from Manitoba, Canada, and the Six-Step Netscape Composer Tutorial from Montana State University. Here is a tutorial for Composer designed by one of our students, Doug Holschuh: WEB AUTHORING WITH NETSCAPE COMPOSER .

Of course, if you have access to it, you can use commercial software to create your web pages such as Adobe GoLive, Microsoft FrontPage, and Macromedia Dreamweaver.

Most web pages include graphics, usually clip art. If you use Microsoft Office, you can use its associated Clip Gallery Live 2000. Other sources of free web graphics can be found on About.com's Web Design site.

After creating a web page, you must upload your html files and graphics onto a server using your Arches account or some other service. Everything you ever wanted to know about uploading web pages to Arches can be found on the UGA uploading site. You may need to download ftp software to transfer your files to Arches account, such as Fetch for the Macintosh and ws_ftp for Windows.


Given the personal nature of this task and the enormous latitude for creativity of expression in developing a web page, it is not possible to specify all of the required components for this task. However, here are some questions that may help you in completing this task:

1. Is instructional technology a field in the sense that educational psychology or anthropology are thought of as academic fields? Or is instructional technology a subset of another field?

2. Is there a meaningful difference between instructional technology and educational technology?

3. Is instructional technology as relevant today as when the field was formed?

4. What questions remain about instructional technology?

5. What does instructional technology mean to my present and future career?

6. What are the major controversial issues within instructional technology?

These questions are not meant to restrict your creativity in completing this task, and you may choose to ignore them and address your own set of questions in defining instructional technology.

Suggested Strategies:

Review the readings assigned for the first few weeks of the course. Conduct web searches for definitions of instructional technology, educational technology, and related terms such as performance technology and instructional systems design. Review web pages for Departments of Instructional Technology or Educational Technology, focusing on components such as "mission statements" and "course offerings." Confer with local experts such as faculty or advanced graduate students in the Department of Instructional Technology. Create an outline of your definition. Brainstorm ideas about the message and the web elements you'll use to convey your definition. You may wish the use a metaphor to convey your interpretation of the field. Enjoy the creative outlet this task provides.


Students often like to see what students have done in previous courses. Here are some examples from the two previous semesters:

Example 1: Angela Garcia (Fall 1999)

Example 2: Thomas Murray (Fall 1999)

Example 3: Teresa Wise (Fall 1999)

Example 4: Bethany White (Spring 2000)

Example 5: Kay Wood (Summer 2000)

Example 6: Kristi Leonard (Summer 2000)

Example 7: Daurice Grossniklaus (Fall 2000)

Example 8: Bob Rodes (Fall 2000)


Evaluation and Feedback

In addition to posting your own definitional web page, you will provide feedback to four other students in the class concerning their Task 1 web pages. An email message will be sent to you with the names of four students and then you will link to their pages from the Participants page on our course web site. You should go to the Task 1 Peer Evaluation Form to provide feedback after you have reviewed each definitional web page. You will receive feedback from four of your peers as well as from the course instructors.


Gentry, C. G. (1995). Educational technology: A question of meaning. In G. J. Anglin (Ed.), Instructional technology: Past, present, and future (2nd Ed.) (pp. 1-10). Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited.


Assessment Rubric

Criterion Weight



The definition presents an original, personal, and thoughtful conceptualization of instructional technology

The definition is little more than a regurgitation of textbook definitions The definition is personal and creative, but is not particularly thoughtful or critical The definition is both original and personal as well as thoughtful and critical
The quality of the web page indicates that a significant effort has been made to produce it

The web page appears to have been produced in haste The web page appears to have been produced with an average level of effort The web page reflects substantive effort and care in its production

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