The Evolution Of Instructional Technology In Malaysia Education Essay Education Essay

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This paper discussed the definitions and evolution of instructional technology in America and Malaysia. The paper begins with the definitions of instructional technology and its development from 1920s to the present time and how it relates with the development of ICT. At Sultan Idris Education University Malaysia, the first Teacher Training Collge started by the British in 1922, instructional technology began with visual instruction in 1922 and later in 2002 developed a course in instructional design and technology in the undergraduate and post graduate teacher training program. However, the influence of ICT is affecting the direction of instructional technology in Malaysia.

The Definitions of Instructional Technology and its Evolution

Definitions of Technology

Before we begin with the term instructional technology, it would be better to explain the word 'technology' in the context of education and training. Technology in our understanding can mean two things: technology as a tool for learning and technology as a process to improve learning. Galbraith (1967) defined technology as the systematic application of scientific or other organised knowledge to practical tasks.

Galbraith's definition of systematic application implies the use of structured approach using certain principles to produce some practical tasks. Application of scientific knowledge means the structured approach may use certain ideas or theories, researched and tested and its application validated through experiments. So in the case of instruction, the technology here denotes the intricate process of solving human learning. We believe this is what instructional technology or educational technology is all about. In this article, we will use the term instructional technology to include educational technology. Both terms share the common goal of improving or facilitating human learning.

The notion of instructional technology as a process to improve teaching and learning is highlighted by several leading organisations and experts in this field such as Commission of Instructional Technology (1970), Association For Educational Communications and Technology (AECT, 1977; AECT, 2004), Seels and Richey (1994) and Reiser and Dempsey (2002, 2007) The process involves designing, developing, managing, implementing and evaluating learning resources and instructional system or the more generic process of analysing, designing, developing, implementing and evaluating (ADDIE) learning resources and instructional system.

Early Definitions 1920-1950 (Visual and Audio-visual Period)

In America for the last 80 years, the definitions of IT have changed several times with each change providing new directions and emphasis for the field. The changes are primarily influenced by the development of new technologies for learning and learning theories. In 1920s the direction was towards visual instruction, using static media such as pictures, slides, flash cards. models and charts to deliver instruction. Then in the 1950s as a result of the development of audio technologies, such as sound recording, radio broadcasting and motion film with sound, the direction of the field has shifted from visual instruction to (AV) audiovisual instruction. In late 1950's instructional televisions became the popular medium for delivering instruction. Instruction can be delivered to vast areas reaching the most remote areas across the continent. However, the focus in this period is still media. Dale (1946) provided a good guideline on how to select media in his classic book Audio Visual Methods in Teaching.

Similarly, in Malaysia, the period from 1920-50 was visual instruction (Yusup & Razmah, 2006). At the Sultan Idris Training College (SITC), teachers were taught to produce flash cards, charts and models to support chalk and talk (Dussek and Mohd Hashim, 1953; Chambers, W., 1948). In late 1950's, the direction has shifted to audio-visual instruction through the use of radio broadcasting, audio recording and motion pictures. In 1959, AV Committee was established in every state in West Malaysia to monitor the AV programs Then in 1960, AV courses was first introduced at Specialist Teachers' Training Institute (Nurudin Jamin, 1978).

The 1960-70 Period (Process Period)

In 1960s, the direction of this field which was predominantly media focused has shifted to instructional technology as a process. IT as a process needs specific behavioral objectives which is rooted from Skinner's behaviorism theory (1954) and Mager's behavioral objectives (1962). Furthermore, IT according to Finn (1960) should be viewed as a way of looking at instructional problems and examining feasible solutions to those problems. The first definition coined by DAVI, a professional organization in this field states that IT is concerned with the design and use of messages which control the learning process. The design and use of messages involves the steps of planning, production, selection, utilisation and management which are quite similar with instructional design process.

The direction of IT as a process was more pronounced when the 1970 Commission of Instructional Technology chaired by Sterling M. McMurrin put forward the new definition. The Commission provided two definitions:

In its more familiar sense, IT is the media born of the communication revolutions which can be used for the instructional purposes, alongside the teacher, textbook and blackboard and the present media which includes television, films, overhead projectors, computers and other items of 'hardware' and 'software'

The second and less familiar definition of IT goes beyond any particular medium or device. In this sense, IT is more than the sum of its parts. It is a systematic way of designing, carrying out, and evaluating the total process of learning and teaching in terms of specific objectives, based on research in human learning and communication, and employing a combination of human and non-human resources to bring about more effective instruction.

(To improve learning, Tickton, S.G. (1970) p.19

The first definition still holds on to IT as a tool or media while the second definition had radically moved to process oriented introducing new concept such as systematic approach of designing, implementing and evaluating teaching and learning in terms of specific objectives based on research in human learning and communication theories. The steps in systematic approach are identical with the instructional design principles which form the core of IT definition.

In 1977, the definition was again updated to adapt to the new direction in the field. AECT published a book entitled the definition of educational technology giving a lengthy and comprehensive account on the new conceptual framework and domain of educational technology. In this book, AECT defines instructional technology as a complex, integrated process involving people, procedures, ideas, devices, and organisation, for analysing problems, and devising, implementing, evaluating and managing solutions to those problems, in situations in which learning is purposive and controlled. The 1977 definition again emphasised IT as a process to solve teaching and learning problems. The process is highlighted in the three functions or domain of IT: Instructional system function, instructional development function and instructional management function (Figure 1).

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Educational Technology in Malaysia

In 1960s and through the early 70s, the term educational technology was not familiar in Malaysian schools and other educational and training institutions. Teachers and educators are familiar with the terms audio visual aids, teaching aids, radio and TV broadcasting. Most AV courses were conducted at Teacher Training Colleges or provided by the Ministry of Education or State Education Department. The field of IT is still AV materials such as pictures, photographs, charts models, audio tapes, slides, radio vision, radio and TV broadcasts. In 1972, AV instruction became less prominent with the introduction of educational TV broadcasts to all Malaysian schools including Sabah and Sarawak in 1976 (Mukherjee and Tow, 1984). The AV, Radio and TV unit in the Ministry of Education was placed under the new Ministry, called Educational Media Services which actually means educational TV or Radio broadcast service or in Malay term as Perkhidmatan Sebaran Pendidikan (PSP). The new name suggests that the direction of instructional technology in Malaysia during this period was still media oriented rather than process.

However, in 1974, the term educational technology was first introduced by Science University Malaysia when Educational Technology Unit (ETU) was set up at the Faculty of Education. The term was used to include the use of all learning resources to facilitate teaching and learning process and also the use of systematic approach to plan and manage educational media program (Boey & Chan, 1979). The word systematic was introduced to emphasize the process of planning and managing learning resources in the instructional process. Unfortunately, less emphasis was given to IT as a systematic process not until 1981 when the Ministry of Education introduced the course Instructional Systems Technology in the teacher training curriculum, a term borrowed from the Instructional Systems Technology Program at Indiana University.

The 1980 - 2004 Period

During the period from 1980 to 1990s many development affect the field of instructional technology both in Malaysia and America. We know that during the earlier part of the development, behavioural learning theory laid the foundation of instructional design practice followed by the cognitive learning theory and now constructivism affect the direction of the field particularly in the area of instructional design. The design and development of instruction that is objectivist in approach is challenged by the constructivist that believes learning occurs when the learner is able to construct new skills and knowledge. The instructional objectives set by the instructional designer at the beginning of instruction or the development of instructional materials according to the constructivist prevented the construction of new learning capabilities.

Later in 1994 the new direction in Instructional technology is reflected in the 1994 definition of instructional technology. Seels and Richey (1994) in collaboration with AECT Definition Committee made the following concise definition statement:

"IT is the theory and practice of design, development, utilisation, management and evaluation of processes and resources for learning" (p.1)

The definition describes five domains of the field: design, development, utilisation, management and evaluation which forms the five areas of study and practice in IT. The interrelationship of the domains as a theory and practice is not linearly connected so that each domain is independent of the others (Figure 2). The term systematic mentioned in the 1970 and 1977 definitions was left out to reflect current interest in constructivism. The pattern or process of interrelationship is also affecting the traditional rectilinear instructional design process. Most instructional design process can be approached as a linear process or a set of concurrent or recursive procedures (Gustafson & Branch, 2002). The ADDIE generic model, the Gustafson & Branch model, the Dorsey, Goodrum & Schwen model are some of the examples of the ID models that share the new design process. The Dick, Carey and Carey Model (2001) has also accommodated to meet the needs of the constructivist approach in the design and development of instruction from the linear approach to iterative design. However, the definition still maintains the process and product, the two terms commonly found in the previous definitions.

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As discussed earlier, in Malaysia the term instructional technology was not widely communicated not until 1981 when Teacher Training Colleges used the term Instructional Systems Technology in one of the courses offered in the preservice teacher training program. This course was offered to all trainee teachers in the three-year Teacher Cerification Program. A year later, Educational Technology Units were set up in all State Education Departments to replace the AV units. The shift in 1988 from the Division of Educational Media Services (EMS) to Educational Technology Division (ETD) in the Ministry of Education was the most important event in the history of the development of instructional technology in Malaysia (Yusup, 1992). The move indicated the direction educational technology is heading. Educational technology is not limited to Educational TV, Radio or AV materials but includes systems and process to improve learning and teaching. The Educational Technology Division, Ministry of Education (1991) redefined educational technology as the application of media, systems, approaches and techniques towards the attainment of effective teaching and learning (ETD, Annual Report, 1991).

IT (Instructional Technology) or IT (Information Technology) confusion.

In the 1990s, the development of computer, Internet and CD interactive and other ICT technologies in the field of instructional technology had profound impact on the direction of this field. As mentioned earlier, the field of instructional technology is very much product or media oriented as evidenced by the strong influence of IT (Information Technology) and now ICT (Information and Communication Technology) in education. Thus instructional technology as a field is overshadowed by ICT. Teacher training colleges and universities are giving more emphasis on training ICT teachers rather than training instructional technology (IT) teachers. The credit hours allocated to instructional technology for teacher training at both the university and teacher training colleges has been reduced. The rationale given was instructional technology is a field that cuts across the discipline. For example, in the teaching of social sciences, science and language subjects, such as Geography, Biology and English respectively, instructional technology is inherently integrated into these subjects. So the hours allocated for instructional technology are more than enough. From the rationale given, many believe that instructional technology is just a technological tool or a teaching aid that supports instruction. Instructional technology is never thought as a process that requires teachers to use instructional design principles to solve human learning and performance. Instructional design as a process is still new and many Malaysian teachers until today are not familiar with it (Yusup, et al. 2008).

The shift to information technology could be attributed to the myopic or old belief that instructional technology as a field is more a product of technology than a process that uses the technology to design and develop multimedia learning materials. The misconception of the field as a media or technology rather than a process aggravated the situation and direction of the field. The implementation of Malaysian smart school in some way has affected the process of technology integration in schools. According to Earle (2002) integrating technology is not about technology-it is primarily about content and effective instructional practices. Technology provides the tools to deliver instruction and content more effectively. Its focus must be on curriculum, instruction and learning. Integration is defined not by the amount or type of technology used, but by how and why it is used. We may add more computers and install better inforstructure in schools which will soon become obsolete and collect dust, because we neglected the process components-learning, instructional practices, and curricula. Technologies are valuable resources, but only when used in a systematic process for developing human competence (Earle, 1992). In other words, the what of technology is not as important as the how of using the technology. Bernauer (1995) gave us a better insight when he stated that "it is not technology per se that has resulted in improved student outcomes, but rather how the technology was used and integrated into instructional processes" (p. 1).

The 2002 Definition

In the early 2000s the direction of the field was influenced by the performance technology movement. Improving performance (non-instructional and instructional interventions) in the work place through the use of digital media and instructional design known as electronic performance support system (EPSS) has increased productivity and reduced operational cost.

As result of the performance technology movement, Reiser and Dempsey (2002) came out with the following definition:

"Instructional design and technology encompasses the analysis of learning and performance problems, and the design development, implementation, evaluation and management of instructional and non-instructional processes and resources intended to improve learning and performance in a variety of settings, particularly, educational institutions and work place" (p. 12)

The 2002 definition highlighted some new concepts that are not present in the previous definitions (Figure 3). The concept of performance technology and non instructional solutions to improve performance are influencing the conventional instructional design process. But what is even more significant in this new definition is the use of term instructional design and technology to replace the previous term instructional technology. Reiser (2002) argued that most people outside this field and many inside it tend to believe that instructional technology is computer, overhead projectors, television, videos, CD-ROM and other types of hardware and software that are typically associated with instructional media. They equate instructional technology is instructional media. In this definition instructional design is recognised as the core element in this field supported by technology to improve learning in educational institutions and performance in the work place. The performance technology movement in the recent years has broadened the practices of instructional design in other fields such as business, military, agriculture and medicine. The non-education field focuses on the improvement of performance in the work place compared with learning in the education sector.

In response with the new development, the Sultan Idris Education University was the first university to use the term instructional design and technology in the teacher training program to replace the educational technology course in 2002 both at the undergraduate and post graduate courses. The three-credit hour course emphasizes on the process that is culminated in the instructional design principles supported by technology and media. Various instructional design models are examined in the light of the development of technology and media particularly computer and other communication technologies.

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The New Definition (2004)

In 2004, The AECT Definition and Terminology Committee chaired by Alan Januszewski prepared an initial draft on the new definition of educational technology. The new definition is influenced by the development of instructional theory and communication technology particularly the Internet. New development in instruction and learning focus on learning and performance while ICT facilitates free access of information. The new definition states that:

'Educational technology is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources'

In this definition, we identified two major emphases. First, it emphasized on the importance of research or study that can facilitates learning and performance in work place. The term study refers to all activities of information gathering and analysis, reflections, theory construction, model and philosophy, historical research, creating resources or project and conducting evaluation on educational technology. Contemporary learning theory in this field has moved from teaching to learning. Learning process is no longer dependent on a single instructional design process (instructive or objectivist) delivered by a predetermined media format or method but to a learning environment that enables the leaner to explore and construct new skills and knowledge in real situation with the support of technology and media.

Second, the definition focuses on the importance of good ethical practice to search and construct knowledge. We believe this is the most significant contribution in this definition. We want learner to acquire as much skills and knowledge as possible both in print and digital format not at the expense of violating ethical procedures. The ethical use of multimedia and hypertext in the Internet, safety procedures, and recognition and respect for intellectual property must be observed at all times. Other than that, the user must also be responsible with the information and materials developed, utilized, managed and distributed in the Internet (Figure 4).


The notion of instructional technology as a tool or product has been debated for more than 40 years. The evolution of technology from slate to computers is shaping the direction of instructional technology as a field. When instructional television (ITV) was introduced in America in 1950s, teachers got excited with the idea that ITV is the panacea to solving instructional and learning problems. But alas it did not! Now ICT or specifically, computer technologies are flooding the schools hoping that it will ease instructional and learning problems. From this phenomenon we gather that a teacher is quick to pick the technology first rather than the method (instructional design) to solve instructional problems. Thus we strongly believe that the use of new term instructional design and technology in this field as suggested by Reiser (2002) will reduce some of the misconceptions and confusion that has plagued this field for nearly half a century.

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