Educational technology is the use of both physical hardware and educational theoretics. 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:
An educational technologist is someone who is trained in the field of educational technology. Educational technologists try to analyze, design, develop, implement, and evaluate process and tools to enhance learning. While the term educational technologist is used primarily in the United States, learning technologist is synonymous and used in the UK as well as Canada.
The Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) 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". It 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 is the process of integrating technology into education in a positive manner that promotes a more diverse learning environment and a way for students to learn how to use technology as well as their common assignments.
Given this definition, educational technology is an inclusive term for both the material tools and the theoretical foundations for supporting learning and teaching. Educational technology is not restricted to high technology. Education technology is anything that enhances classroom learning in the utilization of blended, face to face, or online learning.
However, modern electronic educational technology is an important part of society today. Educational technology encompasses e-learning, instructional technology, information and communication technology (ICT) in education, EdTech, learning technology, multimedia learning, technology-enhanced learning (TEL), computer-based instruction (CBI), computer managed instruction, computer-based training (CBT), computer-assisted instruction or computer-aided instruction (CAI), internet-based training (IBT), flexible learning, web-based training (WBT), online education, digital educational collaboration, distributed learning, computer-mediated communication, cyber-learning, and multi-modal instruction, virtual education, personal learning environments, networked learning, virtual learning environments (VLE) (which are also called learning platforms), m-learning, ubiquitous learning and digital education.
Each of these numerous terms has had its advocates, who point up potential distinctive features. However, many terms and concepts in educational technology have been defined nebulously; for example, Fiedler's review of the literature found a complete lack agreement of the components of a personal learning environment. Moreover, Moore saw these terminologies as emphasizing particular features such as digitization approaches, components or delivery methods rather than being fundamentally dissimilar in concept or principle. For example, m-learning emphasizes mobility, which allows for altered timing, location, accessibility and context of learning; nevertheless, its purpose and conceptual principles are those of educational technology.
In practice, as technology has advanced, the particular "narrowly defined" terminological aspect that was initially emphasized by name has blended into the general field of educational technology. Initially, "virtual learning" as narrowly defined in a semantic sense implied entering an environmental simulation within a virtual world, for example in treating posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In practice, a "virtual education course" refers to any instructional course in which all, or at least a significant portion, is delivered by the Internet. "Virtual" is used in that broader way to describe a course that is not taught in a classroom face-to-face but through a substitute mode that can conceptually be associated "virtually" with classroom teaching, which means that people do not have to go to the physical classroom to learn. Accordingly, virtual education refers to a form of distance learning in which course content is delivered by various methods such as course management applications, multimedia resources, and videoconferencing.