Educational technology is the effective use of technological tools in learning. As a concept, it concerns an array of tools, such as media, machines and networking hardware, as well as considering underlying theoretical perspectives for their effective application.

Educational technology is not restricted to high technology. Also called e-learning, it includes an array of approaches, components, and delivery methods.For example, m-learning emphasizes mobility, but is otherwise indistinguishable in principle from educational technology.

Educational technology includes numerous types of media that deliver text, audio, images, animation, and streaming video, and includes technology applications and processes such as audio or video tape, satellite TV, CD-ROM, and computer-based learning, as well as local intranet/extranet and web-based learning. Information and communication systems, whether free-standing or based on either local networks or the Internet in networked learning, underlie many e-learning processes.

Theoretical perspectives and scientific testing influence instructional design. The application of theories of human behavior to educational technology derives input from instructional theory, learning theory, educational psychology, media psychology and human performance technology.

Richey defined educational technology as "the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using and managing appropriate technological processes and resources”. The Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) denoted instructional technology as "the theory and practice of design, development, utilization, management, and evaluation of processes and resources for learning." As such, educational technology refers to all valid and reliable applied education sciences, such as equipment, as well as processes and procedures that are derived from scientific research, and in a given context may refer to theoretical, algorithmic or heuristic processes: it does not necessarily imply physical technology.

Educational technology refers to the use of both physical hardware and educational theoretic. It encompasses several domains, including learning theory, computer-based training, online learning and, where mobile technologies are used, m-learning. Accordingly, there are several discrete aspects to describing the intellectual and technical development of educational technology:

  • Educational technology as the theory and practice of educational approaches to learning
  • Educational technology as technological tools and media that assist in the communication of knowledge, and its development and exchange
  • Educational technology for learning management systems (LMS), such as tools for student and curriculum management, and education management information systems (EMIS)
  • Educational technology itself as an educational subject; such courses may be called "Computer Studies" or "Information and Communication Technology (ICT)"

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