Educational Technology Literature Review

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Educational technology is an indispensable component of contemporary education and learning, so numerous theories regarding the selection of online-based education and e-learning are emerging nowadays. The following paper focuses on the discussion of the most prominent trends and concepts of selection and adjustment of digitalized learning tools to contemporary education and draws conclusions concerning the supplementary nature of e-learning.

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The paper reviews the related literature and evaluates the most recent finding within this field of study. Thus, the literature review identifies specific tendencies and assesses their applicability to education. Overall, this paper positively evaluates the findings retrieved from the literature review and comments on potential outcomes implied with these facts.

Keywords: education technology, learning, e-learning, online-based, OER, ADDIE, university, learning material, curriculum.


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Online Education and E-learning

With a wide range of educational theories and methods at one's disposal, it becomes vital to discuss distinct approaches to online education and e-learning. The U.S. Department of Education (2013) suggests that education theory for online learning should utilize the entire potential of Internet resources. The chapter argues that the availability of various learning materials does not necessarily mean a better potential for effective learning. Many articles and books require payment, some materials are unverified and lack classification, so it necessitates a complex approach to all these components.

Therefore, the collection and arrangement of free-of-charge learning materials undergo a so-called open education resources framework, which has been already transformed into the entire movement of practitioners (U.S. Department of Education, 2013). The framework aligns user-generated materials with a specific age, gender, standard, interest, and grade classifications to facilitate a learner's fit with the course and scope of education.

The U.S. Department of Education defines Open Education Resources (2013) as teaching, learning, and research resources that can be accessed within the publicly available sources or have been released with copyright permitting the sharing and use for specific, even commercial, purposes. The suggested framework considers pulling relevant learning materials together for creating special online learner's kits or playlists depending upon the medium of released materials. These classified materials are shared throughout the Learning Registry, an online resource aimed at the exchange and storage of OER (U.S. Department of Education, 2013).

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The Learning Registry also provides technical facilities for the community practices of using and distributing learning information. It is a well-protected and highly scalable system that factually addresses the essence of OER (U.S. Department of Education, 2013). Beyond a doubt, standardization and curriculum integration are essential elements of online education, which is why Curriculum Customization Service is recognized as instructional support and planning for educational institutions with online and e-learning practices of various extents.

Another approach to online and e-learning is suggested by A.W. Tony Bates (2015), who argues that digitalization of education presupposes a change of learning environments. It is certainly true since meeting fundamental objectives of education following the same classroom-based patterns is impossible. However, the author suggests that in-class e-learning takes place when software for capturing lectures or password-protected learning interactive portals are used for home assignments, self-studies, and other purposes related to assessment and knowledge acquisition in standard classroom environments (Bates, 2015).

Hence, Bates (2015) delineates classroom-based online and e-learning as the most limited approach. The author justifies his standpoint with the fact that such an approach puts educators at risk of inappropriate formulation of learning objectives and facilitation of education (Bates, 2015). In other words, learners are likely to acquire less knowledge with digitalized learning tools rather than with traditional forms of education and learning. That is why the author places emphasis on other approaches to online and e-learning.


As a matter of fact, the author suggests various purpose-driven approaches such as the ADDIE model, online collaborative learning, and competency-based learning. In such a way, the ADDIE model is described as an effective instructional design for technology-oriented learning, as distinct steps of knowledge acquisition, clear objectives, and context-dependent assessment can be easily integrated into a digital dimension (Bates, 2015).

As for online collaborative learning, it offers a possibility of facilitated teamwork when learning materials can be remotely accessed, shared, and amended. Competency-based learning in its online and electronic forms, however, generally offers access to theoretical knowledge and simplified instructional designs, as it is usually devoted to specific vocational training. Overall, the chapter presents multiple approaches to online and e-learning in relation to their purposes, education specifics, and degree of integration into the scope of learning.

Technological advancement in education can be traced in a number of ways so that Horizon Report 2016 provides the clearest and most detailed account of shortcoming projections on educational technology (Johnson et al., 2016). The report identifies short-term, middle-term, and long-term trends such as the growing focus on measuring learning and increased use of blended learning designs, redesigning learning spaces, switching on deeper learning approaches, and advanced culture of innovation and reconsideration of institutional work respectively.

Likewise, the report identifies developments in technology: BYOD implementation and learning analytics, VR practice and makerspaces, and affective computing and robotics (Johnson et al., 2016). The report also offers well-justified and objective projections, since it outlines challenges of various extents: solvable (blending of formal and informal learning as well as improvement of digital literacy), difficult (competing models of education and personalized learning), and wicked (balancing of connected and unconnected lives as well as sustaining of relevant education).

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It is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the fact that the report presents adequate forecasts of educational technology for the forthcoming future; however, two basic tendencies are still worth independent discussion. The report mentioned the blending of informal and formal learning within a digital domain, once this environment can be positioned at both angles. Henceforth, balancing between two styles of learning becomes especially hard, with knowledge dissemination obtaining a more interactive form (Johnson et al., 2016).

The second tendency is implementing the culture of innovation and reconsideration of institutional performance. The report relevantly discusses such global changes as information technology and digitalized applications that have already penetrated all spheres of human activity (Johnson et al., 2016). That is why education, as a socially-tailored institutional domain, is expected to meet the trends largely present within local communities, with innovation becoming a strong trend (Januszewski & Molenda, 2008). Therefore, a more profound involvement of innovative and digital culture in education is a natural reaction to social advancements. Overall, the report findings are valid and consistent with the objective reality of education technologies, so it is obligatory to take these findings into account.

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Eventually, a standpoint provided by Altbach (2010) has to be discussed. The author argues that hype around technology in education does not address its real role in learning. The author describes technology as an evident supplement for traditional education but not as a complete substitution. The article does not challenge the credibility and effectiveness of educational technologies but simply suggests that technology cannot transform education to the fullest extent, as some aspects of learning should remain in their traditional conceptualization (Altbach, 2010).

Technology expands the availability of education but does not changes on a large scale even though more interactive and informal styles of learning keep emerging (Altbach, 2010). That is why online-based and digital education can support accessibility and attainment of education, meanwhile, its fundamental components are likely to remain unchanged, otherwise education will lose its primary essence.


All in all, this paper has given an account of theories and methods of selecting educational technology. The paper has identified that educational technology has already made significant progress towards more informal and interactive learning styles. Also, the digitalization of education has impacted availability of learning materials, so that complex conceptual frameworks are designed to align these materials with specific categories. Education technology has already achieved high diversification owing to the fact that various applications and digital platforms are tailored to distinct purposes and forms of education.

In such a way, collaborative, technological, or competency-based learning should be addressed with various digital learning tools. As the supplementary function of education technologies can be largely observed, it is not expected to make a drastic breakthrough in education and learning traditions. However, fostering the innovative culture as well as the blending of formal and informal learning will benefit from the more profound use of education technologies.