Monday, May 08, 2006

Technology - Instructional and otherwise

Tomorrow a visiting professor will arrive to teach a summer course to my undergraduate business teacher education students. The course will be concerned with the use of instructional technology in teaching business subjects. She will teach the course over the next two weeks.

The content of this course becomes a little convoluted as much of the focus in business subjects has been on the use of technology itself in business. So, in a way, she'll be teaching how to use instructional technology to teach business technology. So what is the real difference?

In my opinion, we have narrowed the definition of the term instructional technology to mean the use of the computer and the internet in classrooms. So the focus is on using the computer and the internet as a library, as a means of communication, as a virtual environment, etc.

The ubiquitous powerpoint is an example of the faddish use of instructional technology. "We will make a powerpoint with colour and sound and video" Does it increase the students' learning? Is the 'payoff' worth the time to create the powerpoint? These answers are rarely answered - but we are inundated with powerpoint presentations - most of which could have been made using overhead transparencies and taken a fraction of the time to prepare.

Business technology, on the other hand, from the point of view of the Business Educator (remember this is all my opinion) is more concerned with applications. I need to do payroll, inventory, accounts receivable, sales projections, tax returns, etc. What computer program is available and how do I use it efficiently so I can get the information organized in such a way that I can make good business decisions?

I am interested to see how this course unfolds. The visiting profesor is highly qualified in this area and in my experience has been a dynamic and motivating speaker