Quality of Education

10 A HISTORY OF THE AECT’S DEFINITIONS OF EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY Alan Januszewski h e State University of New York at Potsdam Kay A. Persichitte University of Wyoming Introduction The purpose of this chapter is to provide a historical context for the current dei nition of educational technology. We will do this in several stages. First, we will review the primary purposes and considerations for dei ning educational technology. h en, we will review each of the four previous dei nitions, paying particular attention to the primary concepts included in each dei nition.
We will examine the context and rationales for decisions made regarding each of these primary concepts. We will also present some of the historical criticisms of the dei nitions which provided the impetus for changing the dei nitions. h e criteria and purposes for producing a dei nition were discussed at the time of the writing of the i rst dei nition in 1963. A satisfactory dei nition of instructional technology will let us i nd common ground, will propose tomorrow’s horizons, and will allow for a variety of patterns that specii c individuals may follow in specii c institutions . . Research must be designed in terms of clear understanding of instructional technology. Superintendents of schools are requesting criteria for new personnel ER5861X_C010. indd 259 ER5861X_C010. indd 259 8/16/07 6:24:22 PM 8/16/07 6:24:22 PM260 JANUSZEWSKI AND PERSICHITTE needed in various phases of instructional improvement. Teacher-education institutions need assistance in planning courses for pre-service and in-service instruction that will provide the skills and understanding which will be required in tomorrow’s classrooms . . Let us consider the criteria for useful dei nitions. h ey should (a) clarify the description of the i eld in ordinary language; (b) summarize existing knowledge; (c) mediate applications of knowledge to new situations; and (d) lead to fruitful lines of experimental inquiry. . . . h is report aims to provide a working dei nition for the i eld of instructional technology which will serve as a framework for future developments and lead to an improvement in instruction. (Ely, 1963, pp. –8) h ose involved in the writing of the 1963 dei nition obviously believed that there were a lot of things to consider when dei ning educational technology. Or put dif erently, the existence of such a dei nition would have far reaching consequences, sometimes with implications that the authors might not intend. Acknowledging this opened the door to criticisms of the dei – nitions and the purposes cited for redei ning educational technology. h e authors of subsequent dei nitions all seemed to adhere, at least in part, to the purposes and criteria identii ed in the 1963 dei nition.
The 1963 Definition h e leadership of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) recognized the 1963 dei nition of audiovisual communications as the i rst formal dei nition of educational technology (AECT, 1977). h is dei nition, the i rst in a series of four oi cially sanctioned dei nitions, was developed by the Commission on Dei nition and Terminology of the Department of Audiovisual Instruction (DAVI) of the National Education Association (NEA) and supported by the Technological Development Project (TDP).

In 1963 audiovisual communications was the label that was used to describe the i eld as it was evolving from the audiovisual education movement to educational technology: Audiovisual communications is that branch of educational theory and practice primarily concerned with the design and use of messages which control the learning process. It undertakes: (a) the study of the unique and relative strengths and weaknesses of both pictorial and nonrepresentational messages which may be employed in the learning process for any purpose; and (b) the structuring and systematizing of messages by men and instruments in an educational environment. ese undertakings ER5861X_C010. indd 260 ER5861X_C010. indd 260 8/16/07 6:24:23 PM 8/16/07 6:24:23 PM10. A HISTORY OF THE AECT’S DEFINITIONS OF EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY 261 include the planning, production, selection, management, and utilization of both components and entire instructional systems. Its practical goal is the ei cient utilization of every method and medium of communication which can contribute to the development of the learner’s full potential. (Ely, 1963, pp. 18–19) A footnote that was included as part of this dei nition read “the audiovisual communications label is used at this time as an expedient.
Another designation may evolve, and if it does, it should then be substituted” (p. 18). Conceptual Shit s Signaled in Dei nitions h ere are three major conceptual shit s that contributed to the formulation of the dei nitions of educational technology as a theory: (1) the use of a “process” concept rather than a “product” concept; (2) the use of the terms messages and media instrumentation rather than materials and machines; and (3) the introduction of certain elements of learning theory and communication theory (Ely, 1963, p. 19).
Understanding these three ideas and their impact on each other is essential to understanding the idea of educational technology in 1963. A technological conception of the audiovisual i eld called for an emphasis on process, making the traditional product concept of the i eld of educational technology untenable. h e Commission believed, “h e traditional product concept in the audiovisual i eld views the ‘things’ of the i eld by identifying machines, use of particular senses, and characteristics of materials by degrees of abstractness and/or concreteness” (Ely, 1963, p. 19).
Members of the Commission preferred a process concept of the i eld which included “the planning, production, selection, management, and utilization of both components and entire instructional systems” (p. 19). h is process conception also emphasized “the relationship between events as dynamic and continuous” (p. 19). h e Commission argued that “materials” and “machines” were “things” or products and opted not to use those terms in the dei nition. Instead, the Commission used the terms messages and instruments. h e Commission further argued that materials and machines were interdependent elements. A motion picture and projector are inseparable as are all other materials requiring machines for their use” (Ely, 1963, p. 19). One was of little practical use without the other. h e Commission used the concept of media instrumentation to explain instruments. h e Commission said, “Media-instrumentation indicates the ER5861X_C010. indd 261 ER5861X_C010. indd 261 8/16/07 6:24:23 PM 8/16/07 6:24:23 PM262 JANUSZEWSKI AND PERSICHITTE transmission systems, the materials and devices available to carry selected messages” (Ely, 1963, p. 20). e concept of media instrumentation also included the people who utilized the instruments in the educational environment as well as the transmission systems. h e idea that both people and instruments comprised media instrumentation was based in the broader concept of the man-machine system (Finn, 1957). In discussions of the relationship and integration of learning theory and communications theory to instructional technology, the Commission stated, “Certain elements of learning theory and communications theory of er potential contributions [to the i eld of educational technology]; e. . , source, message, channel, receiver, ef ects, stimulus, organism, response” (Ely, 1963, p. 20). h e Commission integrated learning theory and communications theory by identifying and combining the two systems basic to the process view of the i eld: the learning-communicant system and the educational-communicant system. h ese two systems use concepts from both learning and communications theories that delineated and specii ed the roles of the individuals involved in the use of these systems. e learnercommunicant system “refers to the student population” and the educationalcommunicant system “refers to the professional persons in the school” (p. 23). h ese two systems could be of any size, ranging from a single classroom to large school systems (Ely, 1963). Merging the two communicant systems into a single model of the educational process provided the i eld of audiovisual communications with a theoretical framework (Ely, 1963) and a model that allowed educational technology to be viewed as a theoretical construct (AECT, 1977). e fundamental doctrine advanced by the writers of the i rst dei nition was that it was a “branch of educational theory and practice. ” h e word theory was particularly important in this dei nition because it had a special place in the history of the audiovisual i eld, because of the status that it conferred on the i eld, and because of the expectation for further research to inl uence the evolution of that theory. Finn’s Characteristics of a Profession e 1963 dei nition was heavily inl uenced by James Finn’s (1953) six characteristics of a profession: (a) An intellectual technique, (b) an application of that technique to the practical af airs of man, (c) a period of long training necessary before entering into the profession, (d) an association of the members of the profession into a closely knit group with a high quality of communication ER5861X_C010. indd 262 ER5861X_C010. indd 262 8/16/07 6:24:24 PM 8/16/07 6:24:24 PM10.
A HISTORY OF THE AECT’S DEFINITIONS OF EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY 263 between members, (e) a series of standards and a statement of ethics which is enforced, and (f) an organized body of intellectual theory constantly expanded by research. (p. 7) Of these six characteristics of a profession, Finn (1953) argued that “the most fundamental and most important characteristic of a profession is that the skills involved are founded upon a body of intellectual theory and research” (p. 8). Having established the importance of theory and research for a profession, Finn further explained his position by saying that “. . this systematic theory is constantly being expanded by research and thinking within the profession” (p. 8). Finn was arguing that a profession conducts its own research and theory development to complement the research and theory development that it adapts/adopts from other academic areas. If educational technology was to be a true profession, it would have to conduct its own research and develop and its own theory rather than borrowing from more established disciplines like psychology.
Finn (1953) evaluated the audiovisual i eld against each of the six characteristics and determined that the audiovisual i eld did not meet the most fundamental characteristic: an organized body of intellectual theory and research. “When the audiovisual i eld is measured against this characteristic . . . the conclusion must be reached that professional status has not been attained” (Finn, 1953, p. 13). h is argument was largely accepted by, and had a profound ef ect on, the leadership of the audiovisual i eld in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Finn (1953) laid a foundation that the audiovisual i eld was troubled by a “lack of theoretical direction” (p. 14). He attributed this to a “lack of content” and the absence of “intellectual meat” (p. 14) in the contemporary meetings and professional journals of the i eld. In his argument promoting the development of a theoretical base for the audiovisual i eld, Finn warned, Without a theory which produces hypotheses for research, there can be no expanding knowledge and technique.
And without a constant attempt to assess practice so that the theoretical implications may be teased out, there can be no assurance that we will ever have a theory or that our practice will make sense. (p. 14) Finn dedicated his career to rectifying this dei ciency in the i eld, and the resulting impact of his work on the 1963 dei nition is evident. Advancing an argument that audiovisual communications was a theory was an attempt to address the “lack of content” cited by Finn (1953). e Commission identii ed “the planning, production, selection, management, and utilization of both components and entire instructional systems” (Ely, ER5861X_C010. indd 263 ER5861X_C010. indd 263 8/16/07 6:24:24 PM 8/16/07 6:24:24 PM264 JANUSZEWSKI AND PERSICHITTE 1963, p. 19) as tasks performed by practitioners in the i eld directly related to Finn’s (1953) discussion of the “intellectual technique” of the audiovisual i eld—Finn’s i rst criterion for a profession. e i rst oi cial dei nition of educational technology can be viewed as an attempt to bring together remnants of theory, technique, other academic research bases, and history contained in the audiovisual literature, into a logical statement closing the gap on the “poverty of thought” (Finn, 1953, p. 13) that characterized the audiovisual education movement. h e evolution of audiovisual communications (and later, educational technology) as a theory began to add “intellectual meat” to audiovisual practice.
By merging the audiovisual communications concept with the process orientation of the i eld into a new intellectual technique grounded in theory, the Commission strengthened the professional practice and of ered a direction for further growth as a profession. Emergence of a Process View Included among the many factors contributing to the development of the process view of educational technology were the two beliefs held by the most inl uential and prominent individuals involved with the audiovisual i eld: (1) that technology was primarily a process (Finn, 1960b) and (2) that communication was a process (Berlo, 1960; Gerbner, 1956). e conceptual view of educational technology as a way of thinking and a process was established by the 1963 dei nition. h e intention of the Commission that produced the i rst oi cial dei nition of the i eld was “to dei ne the broader i eld of instructional technology which incorporates certain aspects of the established audiovisual i eld” (Ely, 1963, p. 3). Not unexpectedly, the 1963 dei nition drew some critique as it was applied to the emerging i eld of the 1960s and 1970s.
Prominent individuals involved with audiovisual education, such as James Finn (1957; 1960a) and Charles Hoban (1962), had previously used the term technology when referring to the activities of the audiovisual i eld. Donald Ely (1973; 1982) observed that the use of the word control in the 1963 dei nition was problematic for many individuals involved with educational technology. Ely (1982) explained, “h e strong behavioral emphasis at the time seemed to call for the word ‘control’” (p. 3).
He noted that the word facilitate was substituted by many professionals “to make the dei nition more palatable” (Ely, 1973, p. 52). Perhaps equally important was the desire by members of the i eld to move away from a behaviorally based psychology to a more humanistic psychology (Finn, 1967). ER5861X_C010. indd 264 ER5861X_C010. indd 264 8/16/07 6:24:24 PM 8/16/07 6:24:24 PM10. A HISTORY OF THE AECT’S DEFINITIONS OF EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY 265 Criticisms of the 1963 Dei nition As noted in the introduction, no one dei nition can be the dei nition, and there were criticisms of the 1963 dei nition.
James Knowlton (1964), a faculty member at Indiana University, was a consultant for the 1963 Commission on Dei nition and Terminology. In an essay that reviewed the 1963 dei nition, Knowlton stated that the dei nition itself was “couched in semiotical terms” (p. 4) but that the conceptual structure used in the rationale for the 1963 dei nition “was couched in learning theory terms [and] this disjunction produced some surprising anomalies” (p. 4). Knowlton’s argument was based on a need for conceptual and semantic consistency in the dei nition.
Knowlton argued that failing to pair the language of the dei nition with the language of the conceptual structure in the rationale resulted in a general lack of clarity about this new concept. h is lack of clarity in turn caused confusion in the direction of research and practice in the i eld. Less than a decade later, Robert Heinich (1970) saw a need to redei ne the i eld of educational technology for two reasons. First, he was critical of the “communications” based language used in the 1963 dei nition. Heinich argued that this language was too complicated for school personnel to interpret and apply.
Second, Heinich argued that the power to make many of the decisions regarding the use of technology in schools should be transferred from the teacher to the curriculum planners. Heinich’s argument for changing the dei nition was based on both linguistic concerns and evolutionary changes in the functions of practitioners in the i eld. Heinich promoted an approach to schooling where specialists would decide when and where schools would use technology. h is position was dif erent from that which was discussed in the rationale for the 1963 dei – nition.
In the rationale for the 1963 dei nition, teachers were viewed as partners of educational technologists rather than as their subordinates (Januszewski, 2001). Forces Impelling a New Dei nition Other contemporary issues emerged which began to inl uence the i eld. h e report of the Presidential Commission on Instructional Technology (1970) stated that instructional technology could be dei ned in two ways: In its more familiar sense it means the media born of the communications revolution which can be used for instructional purposes alongside the teacher, textbook and blackboard.
In general, the Commission’s report follows this usage . . . the commission has had to look at the pieces that ER5861X_C010. indd 265 ER5861X_C010. indd 265 8/16/07 6:24:25 PM 8/16/07 6:24:25 PM266 JANUSZEWSKI AND PERSICHITTE make up instructional technology: television, i lms, overhead projectors, computers and the other items of “hardware and sot ware. ” (p. 19) h e second and less familiar dei nition . . . (Instructional technology) . . . s a systematic way of designing, carrying out, and evaluating the total process of learning and teaching in terms of specii c objectives, based on research in human learning and communication and employing a combination of human and nonhuman resources to bring about more ef ective instruction. (Commission on Instructional Technology, 1970, p. 19) Educational technology professionals responded to this report in a special section of Audiovisual Communications Review (1970). h e professional reviews of the government report were mixed at best. Ely (Ely et al. 1970) of Syracuse University thought that the Commission’s overall ef ort was commendable given its lot y charge. Earl Funderburk (Ely et al. , 1970) of the NEA called the recommendations a balanced program. But David Engler (Ely et al. , 1970) of the McGraw-Hill Book Company disapproved of the Commission’s ef ort to relegate the process-based dei nition of instructional technology to some “future” role. Leslie Briggs (Ely et al. , 1970) of Florida State University accused the Presidential Commission of providing a “two-headed image” of instructional technology by stressing both a hardware and a process orientation of the concept. e contributors to this special section of Audiovisual Communications Review (1970) were generally dissatisi ed with the “two-headed” orientation primarily because of the confusion it might cause among the potential client groups of educational technology. h ey viewed the hardware orientation favored by the Presidential Commission as a setback for the profession. It meant the unacceptable return to the “audiovisual aids” and “technology as machine” conceptions of educational technology. h is orientation also implied the de-emphasizing of research and theory.
Given these professional discussions and developments, professionals in the i eld believed that a new dei nition of educational technology was necessary. The 1972 Definition By 1972, through evolution and mutual agreement, the DAVI had become the AECT. Along with the organizational change came a change to the dei nition. ER5861X_C010. indd 266 ER5861X_C010. indd 266 8/16/07 6:24:25 PM 8/16/07 6:24:25 PM10. A HISTORY OF THE AECT’S DEFINITIONS OF EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY 267 h e newly formed AECT dei ned the term educational technology rather than the term audiovisual communications as
Educational technology is a i eld involved in the facilitation of human learning through the systematic identii cation, development, organization and utilization of a full range of learning resources and through the management of these processes. (Ely, 1972, p. 36) As a member of the group that wrote several of the early drat s of the 1972 dei nition, Kenneth Silber (1972) was successful in including changes in many of the roles and functions of the practitioners of the i eld as part of that dei nition.
Silber introduced the term learning system which combined ideas of the open classroom movement with some of the concepts of educational technology. Like Heinich’s (1970) perspective, Silber’s (1972) “learning system” (p. 19) suggested changes in the roles of the teacher and the educational technologist. Unlike Heinich, Silber supported the idea that learners should make many decisions regarding the use of educational technology themselves. Educational technologists would produce a variety of programs and designs that learners would use or adapt to meet their own “long-range learning destination” (p. 1). Silber’s position was that the teacher should be more a “facilitator of learning” and less a “teller of information. ” A Dei nition Based on h ree Concepts h ere are three concepts central to the 1972 dei nition characterizing educational technology as a i eld: a broad range of learning resources, individualized and personalized learning, and the use of the systems approach. “It is these three concepts, when synthesized into a total approach to facilitate learning, that create the uniqueness of, and thus the rationale for, the i eld” (Ely, 1972, p. 7). Examining these three concepts along with the idea of educational technology as a “i eld” is crucial to understanding the AECT’s (1972) dei nition of educational technology. It is particularly important to recognize that dif erent interpretations of these three concepts would result in dif ering conceptions of the i eld through the next three decades. h e dif erent interpretations and relative emphases of these concepts were due in large part to dif erences in educational philosophy and educational goals.
Dif ering interpretations of these concepts would also have the more visible ef ect of substantially dif erent products and processes developed in the i eld. h e writers of the 1972 dei nition seemed to be aware that the major concepts could be interpreted dif erently, and they seemed to be interested ER5861X_C010. indd 267 ER5861X_C010. indd 267 8/16/07 6:24:26 PM 8/16/07 6:24:26 PM268 JANUSZEWSKI AND PERSICHITTE in including individuals with dif erent philosophical and academic backgrounds in the i eld. e writers of the 1963 dei nition and its supporting rationale seemed less concerned with accommodating divergent educational philosophies. Perhaps this was due to the fact that the 1963 dei nition was the i rst formal attempt to dei ne educational technology. Such an under taking was formidable enough. Perhaps it was because the writers of the 1972 dei – nition paid more attention to the discussions of educational philosophy in the literature from the rest of the i eld of education.
Perhaps it was because the 1963 dei nition viewed educational technology as an educational theory and, potentially, as an educational philosophy itself. Regardless, there is no doubt that by 1972, the authors of the dei nition of educational technology chose to consider educational technology a i eld of study and not as a specii c theory (Januszewski, 1995, 2001). Educational Technology as a Field h e decision to refer to educational technology as a i eld of study rather than a theory or a branch of theory had at least four results: (1) we acknowledged that there was more than one theory of educational technology, ore than one way to think about the role(s) of educational technology; (2) the dei nition prompted signii cant philosophical discussions by members of the profession; (3) the use of the word i eld encompassed both the “hardware” and “process” orientations of instructional technology described by the Presidential Commission (1970); and (4) this dei nition was based on the “tangible elements” (Ely, 1972) that people could observe. e 1972 dei nition essentially dei ned educational technology by role and function rather than as an abstract concept, as was the case for the 1963 dei nition, where educational technology was viewed as a theory. h e concept of “i eld” has been a thorny one for educational technologists. Like many areas of study within education, it is very dii cult to discuss educational technology without using the word i eld as a descriptor. Certainly audiovisual professionals used the term to describe the “audiovisual i eld” before the terms instructional technology or educational technology were ever used. e 1963 dei nition statement frequently used i eld (Ely, 1963) to move the discussion along, even though it was argued that educational technology was a theory or branch of theory. On the surface, the use of i eld seems a rather inescapable semantic problem when speaking of educational technology. But it is signii cant that the writers of the 1972 dei nition chose to use i eld rather than theory in the dei nition because the use of the word i eld established a territory. It also provided certain legitimacy to ef orts to advance ER5861X_C010. ndd 268 ER5861X_C010. indd 268 8/16/07 6:24:26 PM 8/16/07 6:24:26 PM10. A HISTORY OF THE AECT’S DEFINITIONS OF EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY 269 both products and processes. h e consequences of this decision were anticipated by Finn (1965), who proclaimed Properly constructed, the concept of instructional or educational technology is totally integrative. It provides a common ground for all professionals, no matter in what aspect of the i eld they are working: it permits the rational development and integration of new devices, materials, and methods as they come along. e concept is so completely viable that it will not only provide new status for our group, but will, for the i rst time, threaten the status of others [italics added]. (p. 193) Criticism of the 1972 Dei nition h e 1972 dei nition was not the object of numerous criticisms as was the 1963 dei nition, probably because it was considered only an interim dei nition (Ely, 1994). Only one such article appeared in the literature of the i eld of educational technology—a critique was written by Dennis Myers, then a graduate student at Syracuse University, and Lida Cochran, a faculty member at the University of Iowa (Myers & Cochran, 1973). e brief analysis by Myers and Cochran (1973) articulated at least i ve dif erent criticisms. First, they proposed including a statement in the rationale for the dei nition stating that students have a right of access to technological delivery systems as part of their regular instruction. Including such a statement follows from Hoban’s (1968) discussion on the appropriateness of technology for instruction in a technological society. Second, Myers and Cochran argued that the 1972 dei nition statement was weakened by neglecting to include a theoretical rationale for the dei nition. is criticism, which correctly pointed out that the dei nition is lacking a unii ed theoretical direction, supported Heinich’s (1970) assertions in his philosophical view of the i eld. In a third point, Myers and Cochran (1973) criticized the limited role that the educational technologist was provided in the description of the systems approach provided in the dei nition. In a fourth point, they discussed the shortcomings of the terminology used to discuss the domains and roles in educational technology.
Perhaps the most interesting point made in this analysis concerned the relationship of educational technology to the rest of the i eld of education. In noting the problem of dei ning the i eld by the functions performed, Myers and Cochran (1973) pointed to the importance of considering the purpose of education. ER5861X_C010. indd 269 ER5861X_C010. indd 269 8/16/07 6:24:26 PM 8/16/07 6:24:26 PM270 JANUSZEWSKI AND PERSICHITTE What is important is that certain functions get done in education. h at generalization is important because it conveys an attitude that transcends narrow professional nterests and strikes a note of community and cooperativeness, qualities which are essential to the solution of problems facing education and society. (p. 13) Here, Myers and Cochran (1973) seemed to be chastising the writers of the 1972 dei nition for being overly concerned with intellectual territory and the roles performed in the i eld of educational technology. h is particular criticism lost only a little of its sharpness when it was viewed in light of earlier comments made about the inappropriateness of the limited role assigned to educational technologists in the dei nition (Januszewski, 2001).
In summary, by 1972, the name of the concept had changed from audiovisual communications to educational technology. h e organizational home for professionals in the i eld had changed name: from DAVI to AECT. h ere had been substantial changes in our schools, hardware, and other technological innovations during the nine years since the writing of the i rst dei nition. Educational technology was now identii ed as a i eld of study, open to interpretation by those who practiced within it. e 1972 dei nition rel ected these interpretations but was intended to be only a temporary measure. Almost as soon as it was published, work began on the next dei nition. The 1977 Definition In 1977, the AECT revised its dei nition of educational technology with its third version: Educational technology is a complex, integrated process, involving people, procedures, ideas, devices and organization, for analyzing problems and devising, implementing, evaluating and managing solutions to those problems, involved in all aspects of human learning.
In educational technology, the solution to problems takes the form of all the Learning Resources that are designed and/or selected and/or utilized to bring about learning; these resources are identii ed as Messages, People, Materials, Devices, Techniques, and Settings. h e processes for analyzing problems, and devising, implementing and evaluating solutions are identii ed by the Educational Development Functions of Research h eory, Design, Production, Evaluation Selection, Logistics, Utilization, and Utilization Dissemination. h e processes of directing or coordinating one or more of hese functions are identii ed by the Educational Management Functions of Organizational Management and Personnel Management. (AECT, 1977, p. 1) ER5861X_C010. indd 270 ER5861X_C010. indd 270 8/16/07 6:24:27 PM 8/16/07 6:24:27 PM10. A HISTORY OF THE AECT’S DEFINITIONS OF EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY 271 h e Dei nition of Educational Technology (AECT, 1977) was a 169-page book intended to accomplish two things: (a) systematically analyze the complex ideas and concepts that were used in the i eld of educational technology, and (b) show how these concepts and ideas related to one another (Wallington, 1977). is publication included the dei nition of educational technology (which comprises 16 pages of the text), a history of the i eld, a rationale for the dei nition, a theoretical framework for the dei nition, a discussion of the practical application of the intellectual technique of the i eld, the code of ethics of the professional organization, and a glossary of terms related to the dei nition. Educational Versus Instructional Technology h e conceptual dif erence between the terms educational technology and instructional technology constituted a large portion of the analysis of this book.
Understanding how the authors of the 1977 dei nition viewed the relationship of instructional technology to educational technology is essential to understanding the 1977 dei nition and its theoretical framework. h e basic premise of this distinction was that instructional technology was to educational technology as instruction was to education. h e reasoning was that since instruction was considered a subset of education then instructional technology was a subset of educational technology (AECT, 1977). For example, the concept of educational technology was involved in the solution of problems in “all aspects of human learning” (p. ). h e concept of instructional technology was involved in the solution of problems where “learning is purposive and controlled” (p. 3). Educational Technology as a Process Two other complex conceptual developments were also undertaken by the authors of the 1977 dei nition, which were interrelated. First, the 1977 dei – nition of educational technology was called a “process” (AECT, 1977, p. 1). h e authors intended the term process to connote the idea that educational technology could be viewed as a theory, a i eld, or a profession.
Second, the systems concept was infused throughout the entire dei nition statement and in all the major supporting concepts for the dei nition in both its descriptive and prescriptive senses. h e authors of the 1977 dei nition connected these two conceptual developments by saying that the use of the systems concept was a process (AECT, 1977). As one of the three major supporting concepts for the 1972 dei nition of educational technology, the systems approach had become the basis for the ER5861X_C010. ndd 271 ER5861X_C010. indd 271 8/16/07 6:24:27 PM 8/16/07 6:24:27 PM272 JANUSZEWSKI AND PERSICHITTE dei nition itself by 1977. h rough their ef orts to reinforce the process conception of educational technology, the leadership of the i eld now assumed that all of the major supporting concepts of the dei nition were tied to, or should be viewed in light of, the systems approach. h e three major supporting concepts of the 1977 dei nition were learning resources, management, and development.
Learning resources were any resources utilized in educational systems; a descriptive use of the systems concept the writers of the 1977 dei nition called “resources by utilization. ” Authors called the resources specii cally designed for instructional purposes, a prescriptive use of the systems approach, “resources by design” or “instructional system components” (AECT, 1977). Like the concept of learning resources, management could be used in a descriptive fashion to describe administrative systems or in a prescriptive way to prescribe action. e concept of management was ot en used as a metaphor for the systems approach in education (Heinich, 1970). h e term instructional development was frequently used to mean the “systems approach to instructional development” or “instructional systems development” (Twelker et al. , 1972). h e fact that the management view of the systems approach to instruction ot en included an instructional development process and the fact that instructional development models frequently included management as a task to be completed in the systems pproach to instructional development further intertwined the systems concept with the process view of educational technology. h ese descriptive and prescriptive interpretations of the 1977 dei nition would inl uence future dei nitions. As previously noted, the predilection that educational technology was a process was not new when the 1977 dei nition was written. Process was one of the three major supporting concepts incorporated into the rationale of the 1963 dei nition (Ely, 1963).
Believing that educational technology was a process provided one of the major reasons that the leadership of the profession tended to reject the report of the Presidential Commission on Instructional Technology (1970), which focused heavily on the hardware of the i eld in its i rst dei nition of instructional technology. h e authors of the 1977 dei nition, who purposefully used the term process to develop a systematic and congruent scheme for the concept of educational technology, said, h e dei nition presented here dei nes the theory, the i eld, and profession as congruent. is occurs because the dei nition of the i eld of educational technology is directly derived from, and includes, the theory of educational technology, and the profession of educational technology is directly ER5861X_C010. indd 272 ER5861X_C010. indd 272 8/16/07 6:24:28 PM 8/16/07 6:24:28 PM10. A HISTORY OF THE AECT’S DEFINITIONS OF EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY 273 derived from, and includes, the i eld of educational technology. (AECT, 1977, p. 135) In the end, the ef ort to demonstrate the congruence of the major concepts involved with educational technology created as many issues for the i eld as it resolved.
Five immediate advantages for describing educational technology as a process were (1) the use of the term process reinforced the primacy of the process view of educational technology over the product view of educational technology. h e process view had been outlined in the 1963 dei nition statement, but the report of the Presidential Commission on Instructional Technology (1970) appeared to reverse this emphasis. (2) h e term process would ground the dei nition of educational technology in the activities of its practitioners, activities that could be directly observed and verii ed. 3) h e term process could be used to describe educational technology as a theory, a i eld, or a profession. (4) h e term process allowed the further evolution of thought and research around the concept of systems. Finally, (5) an organized process implies the use of research and theory, which would reinforce the idea that educational technology was a profession. Educational Technology as Field, h eory, or Profession h e authors of the 1977 dei nition argued that educational technology could be thought of “in three dif erent ways—as a theoretical construct, as a i eld, and as a profession” (AECT, 1977, p. 7). h ey continued, “None of the foregoing perspectives is more correct or better than the others. Each is a different way of thinking about the same thing” (p. 18). h e writers of the 1977 dei nition argued that the theoretical construct, the i eld, and the profession were all process based. h e term process described and connected all three of these perspectives of educational technology with a single word. Educational technology had been called a theory in the 1963 dei nition (Ely, 1963), and it had been called a i eld in the 1972 dei nition (Ely, 1972).
New to the 1977 dei nition was the argument that educational technology was also a profession. Prior to the publication of the 1977 dei nition, the term profession was used in passing as it related to educational technology. Since Finn (1953) had argued that the i eld had not yet reached professional status, members of the i eld (e. g. , Silber, 1970) had made few attempts to analyze educational technology systematically as a profession. Using Finn’s criteria, the writers of the 1977 dei nition argued that educational technology was now a profession.
Depending upon the interpretation and application of the systems concept, educational technology could be explained as a theory, a i eld, or a profession ER5861X_C010. indd 273 ER5861X_C010. indd 273 8/16/07 6:24:28 PM 8/16/07 6:24:28 PM274 JANUSZEWSKI AND PERSICHITTE in the 1977 dei nition. h e impact of using the term process to describe educational technology as a theory, a i eld, or a profession hinged on these dif ering interpretations of the systems approach, once again prompting discussions and philosophical debates among prominent educational technologists. e period of the 1980s was not so focused on criticism of the 1977 dei nition as much as characterized by broad academic wrangling over the interpretation and application of the dei nition (Januszewski, 1995, 2001). h e three major supporting concepts of the 1977 dei nition—learning resources, management, and development—could also be interpreted dif erently based on divergent conceptions of the systems approach. h e dif erent interpretations of learning resources, management, and development also provided the writers of the 1977 dei nition with a rationale to distinguish between educational technology and instructional technology.
The 1994 Definition By 1994, the dei nition of educational technology had nearly come full circle. h e dei nition that was produced in 1994 read, “Instructional technology is the theory and practice of design, development, utilization, management, and evaluation of processes and resources for learning” (Seels & Richey, 1994, p. 1). h ere are no new concepts included in the 1994 dei nition. What was new was the identii cation of multiple theoretical and conceptual issues in the explanation of the dei nition. e 1994 dei nition was intended to be much less complex than the 1977 dei nition. h e extent to which the writers were successful can be judged in part by reviewing the criticisms of the 1977 dei nition. h e attempt by the writers of the 1977 dei nition to show the congruence of educational technology and instructional technology revealed a conceptual problem for the i eld. h e dei nition of educational technology, which was concerned with “all aspects of human learning” (AECT, 1977, p. ), had become so broad that some individuals in the i eld of education pointed out that there was no dif erence between educational technology and curriculum, school administration, or teaching methods (Ely, 1982). Saettler (1990) wryly pointed out that the dei nition had become everything to everybody, and he dubbed the 1977 dei nition the “omnibus dei nition. ” Logical Problems h ere were also serious l aws in the reasoning and the conceptual interpretations used in the theoretical framework and rationale for the 1977 dei nition of educational technology.
Establishing the dif erence between ER5861X_C010. indd 274 ER5861X_C010. indd 274 8/16/07 6:24:28 PM 8/16/07 6:24:28 PM10. A HISTORY OF THE AECT’S DEFINITIONS OF EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY 275 education and instruction, the authors argued, “Education, then, includes two classes of processes not included in instruction: those processes related to the administration of instruction . . . and those processes related to situations in which learning occurs when it is not deliberately managed” (AECT, 1977, p. 56).
An example of learning not deliberately managed given in the discussion was “incidental learning” (p. 56). It was reasonable for the authors to argue that nondeliberately managed learning and/or incidental learning was part of the concept of education (Januszewski, 1997). However, the dei nitions of “technology” by Galbraith (1967), Hoban (1962), and Finn (1960a, 1965), which were used by the authors of the 1977 dei nition to discuss the term technology as it related to the concept of educational technology, all included the ideas of organization, management, and control (AECT, 1977). e writers of the 1977 dei nition considered organization, management, and control critical characteristics of technology; but these ideas were contrary to the idea of “incidental learning” and “learning that was not deliberately managed. ” Education, at least as it was distinguished from instruction included in the rationale of the 1977 dei nition, did not seem compatible with technology. It is dii cult to conceive of a technology of the incidental, unmanaged, and unintended. e gains made in the organization of the framework of the concept of educational technology by distinguishing between education and instruction were lost when education was paired with technology (Januszewski, Butler, & Yeaman, 1996). h eory or theoretical construct. h e relationship of educational technology to “theory” presented another problem in the discussion of educational technology presented in the 1977 dei nition and rationale. ere are three ways in which the concept of theory is related to educational technology in the 1977 dei nition statement: (1) the thought that educational technology was a “theoretical construct” (AECT, 1977, pp. 18, 20, 24); (2) the notion that educational technology itself was “a theory” (AECT, 1977, pp. 2, 135, 138); and (3) that the “dei nition of educational technology was a theory” (AECT, 1977, pp. 4, 20, 134). To some degree, all three of these discussions of theory and educational technology are accurate, but they cannot be used interchangeably as they are in the 1977 dei nition.
A theoretical construct is not the same as a theory; nor is it the case, that because a dei nition of a concept is a theory, the concept itself a theory. h e word theory has been used in at least four ways in the literature of the i eld of education: (1) the “law like” theory of the hard sciences; (2) theories that are supported by statistical evidence; (3) theories that identify variables that inl uence the i eld of study; and (4) theory as a systematic analysis of a set of related concepts (Kliebard, 1977). ER5861X_C010. indd 275 ER5861X_C010. ndd 275 8/16/07 6:24:29 PM 8/16/07 6:24:29 PM276 JANUSZEWSKI AND PERSICHITTE h e fourth sense of theory is of interest to this analysis of the 1977 dei nition of educational technology. Systematic analyses of any abstract concept can be said to be theories of that concept. Referring to educational technology as a theoretical construct, or a theory, or calling the dei nition of educational technology a theory may be accurate if the construct or theory includes a systematic analysis of the concept of educational technology. e writers of the 1977 dei nition provided criteria for “theory” that was not theory as a systematic analysis of related concepts. h e 1977 view of theory was an attempt to establish general principles and predict outcomes (AECT, 1977). h is approach was substantially dif erent from the usage of the word theory in the 1963 dei nition statement. Further confusion arises because of the writers’ claim that educational technology did indeed meet the criteria for being a predictive theory (Januszewski, 1995, 2001).
Certainly “educational technology” is a theoretical construct. “Educational technology” may also be considered a theory depending on what exactly is intended by the word theory. The 1977 definition of educational technology is a theory about the abstract concept of “educational technology. ” But because the definition of the concept of educational technology may be a theory of educational technology, it does not necessarily follow that the concept of educational technology is itself a theory.
This is similar to saying that a definition of the concept of democracy may be a theory of democracy but that the concept of democracy itself is not a theory. Few involved in the field of educational technology adopted this systematic treatment of the concepts provided in the 1977 definition. Many in the field adopted only portions of the definition (e. g. , Gustafson, 1981). Certain parts of the definition and the supporting statements were cited by scholars in order to make erudite points about the field of educational technology (e. . , Romiszowski, 1981), but a reading of the literature of the field during this era reveals that the whole of the conceptual framework provided in the 1977 definition, specifically the part intended to distinguish educational technology from instructional technology, was not widely accepted by the professionals in the field of educational technology (Seels & Richey, 1994). This lack of acceptance led to the label changes in the 1994 definition. Distinguishing between educational and instructional. e ef ort to revise the 1977 dei nition addressed some of the conceptual incongruencies of previous dei nitions. h e i rst of these was the dif erence between educational and instructional technology. Unlike the writers of the 1977 dei nition, who sought to distinguish between educational technology and instructional technology, ER5861X_C010. indd 276 ER5861X_C010. indd 276 8/16/07 6:24:29 PM 8/16/07 6:24:29 PM10. A HISTORY OF THE AECT’S DEFINITIONS OF EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY 277 the authors of the 1994 dei nition acknowledged that this problem had no easy answer. ey admitted, “At present the terms ‘Educational Technology’ and ‘Instructional Technology’ are used interchangeably by most professionals in the i eld” (p. 5). But they argued, Because the term ‘Instructional Technology’ (a) is more commonly used today in the United States, (b) encompasses many practice settings, (c) describes more precisely the function of technology in education, and (d) allows for an emphasis on both instruction and learning in the same dei nitional sentence, the term ‘Instructional Technology’ is used in the 1994 dei nition, but the two terms are considered synonymous. Seels & Richey, 1994, p. 5) With that, the oi cial label of the i eld was changed from “educational technology” to “instructional technology,” although it was quite acceptable to continue to use the term educational technology. Underlying Assumptions Seels and Richey (1994) did dif erentiate the 1994 dei nition from previous dei nitions by identifying and analyzing some of the assumptions that underlie this dei nition. Identii ed assumptions included Instructional technology has evolved from a movement to a i eld and profession.
Since a profession is concerned with a knowledge base, the 1994 dei nition must identify and emphasize instructional technology as a i eld of study as well as practice (p. 2). A revised dei nition of the i eld should encompass those areas of concern to practitioners and scholars. h ese areas are the domains of the i eld (p. 2). Both process and product are of vital importance to the i eld and need to be rel ected in the dei nition (p. 2). Subtleties not clearly understood or recognized by the typical Instructional Technology professional should be removed from the dei nition and its more extended explanation (p. ). It is assumed that both research and practice in the i eld are carried out in conformity with ethical norms of the profession (p. 3). Instructional technology is characterized by ef ectiveness and ei – ciency (p. 3). h e concept of systematic is implicit in the 1994 dei nition because the domains are equivalent to the systematic process for developing instruction (p. 8). • • • • • • • ER5861X_C010. indd 277 ER5861X_C010. indd 277 8/16/07 6:24:29 PM 8/16/07 6:24:29 PM278 JANUSZEWSKI AND PERSICHITTE h e inclusion of these ssumptions in the analysis and explanation accompanying the 1994 dei nition allowed for the publication of a dei nition that was much more “economical” than were previous dei nition ef orts. h eory and Practice h e authors of the 1994 dei nition stated that the dei nition was composed of four components: (a) theory and practice; (b) design, development, utilization, management and evaluation; (c) processes and resources; and (d) learning. h ese components were not necessarily new; but in this dei nition, they were reorganized, simplii ed, and connected, in a way making the 1994 dei nition unique. e 1994 dei nition used the phrasing included in the 1963 dei nition when it called instructional technology “the theory and practice of. ” And the authors argued, “A profession must have a knowledge base that supports practice” (Seels & Richey, 1994, p. 9). h e authors used a simple but rather clear notion that “theory consists of the concepts, constructs, principles, and propositions that contribute to the body of knowledge” and that “practice is the application of the knowledge” (p. 11).
In so doing, the authors cleared up the problem of the meaning of theory that they had inherited from the writers of the 1977 dei nition, a dei nition of theory that had been too precise. Domains h e concepts (or “domains” of the 1994 dei nition) of design, development, utilization, management, and evaluation comprise the accepted knowledge base of the i eld today as evidenced by the Standards for the Accreditation of School Media Specialist and Educational Technology Specialist Programs (AECT, 2000).
When these concepts are taken together and conducted in sequential order, they are the same as the stages of “development” described in the 1977 dei nition. h ese concepts are directly traceable to the idea of educational engineering developed by W. W. Charters (1945). It is important to realize that the authors of the 1994 dei nition did not intend that practitioners of educational technology perform all of these tasks in the sequential order. Specializing in or focusing on one of these tasks would include broad practitioners in the i eld (Seels & Richey, 1994).
Seels and Richey (1994) provided dei nitions of processes and resources: “A process is a series of operations or activities directed towards a particular end” (p. 12). “Resources are sources of support for learning, including support systems and instructional materials and environments” (p. 12). h ese descriptions allowed the authors to (a) use process to reinforce notions of ER5861X_C010. indd 278 ER5861X_C010. indd 278 8/16/07 6:24:30 PM 8/16/07 6:24:30 PM10.
A HISTORY OF THE AECT’S DEFINITIONS OF EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY 279 engineering and science in instruction; (b) maintain the distinction between resources as things and processes; and (c) be consistent with terminology used in all three previous dei nitions. h e concept of learning was not new to the 1994 dei nition; however, the dei nition of learning intended by the authors was new. In previous dei nitions, the term learning was intended to connote a change in behavior such as advocated by Tyler (1950). But the authors of the 1994 dei nition wanted to move away from a strong behaviorist orientation. ey argued, “In this dei nition learning refers to the ‘relatively permanent change in a person’s knowledge or behavior due to experience’” (Mayer, 1982, as cited in Seels & Richey, 1994, p. 12). Including the phrase “due to experience” also aided in moving away from causal connections and allowed for incidental learning. h is interpretation signaled the acceptance of a dif erent kind of science in education: one less grounded on prediction and control and more interested in applying other theoretical and research principles to the instructional process.
Criticism of the 1994 Dei nition h e primary criticism of the 1994 dei nition is that instructional technology appeared to look too much like the systems approach to instructional development while changes in the practice of the i eld (e. g. , constructivistbased initiatives and the general acceptance of computer innovations in classroom methodologies) made the 1994 dei nition too restrictive for mainstream teachers and school administrators as well as researchers and scholars. h ese criticisms and further evolution of the research and practice in the i eld led to a need for reconsideration and evision of this dei nition at er more than a decade of use. The Current Definition h e task force empanelled by AECT to review the 1994 dei nition wrestled with the historical issues presented here and with other issues of perception, changing employment and training expectations, semantics, and a strong desire to develop a dei nition that both served to include the broad variety of practitioners in this i eld and one which would prompt renewed attention to the theory and research so critical to our continued contributions to learning.
In a sense, we are not so far removed in this century from the professional goal stated in the 1963 dei nition: ER5861X_C010. indd 279 ER5861X_C010. indd 279 8/16/07 6:24:30 PM 8/16/07 6:24:30 PM280 JANUSZEWSKI AND PERSICHITTE It is the responsibility of educational leaders to respond intelligently to technological change . . . If the DAVI membership is to support the leadership in such bold steps, dei nition and terminology as a basis for direction of professional growth is a prime prerequisite . . Now that the i eld of audiovisual communications, the largest single segment of the growing technology of instruction, has reached the point of decision making, we i nd ourselves in the same quandary other i elds have discovered when they have attempted to dei ne their i elds: i. e. , dei nition exists at various levels of understanding but no one dei nition can be the dei nition. (Ely, 1963, pp. 16–18)
And so, the latest in the line of dei nitions of educational technology: “Educational technology is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources. ” References Association for Educational Communications and Technology. (1972). h e i eld of educational technology: A statement of dei nition. Audiovisual Instruction, 17, 36–43. Association for Educational Communications and Technology. (1977). h e dei nition of educational technology. Washington, DC: Author.
Association for Educational Communications and Technology. (2000). Standards for the accreditation of school media specialist and educational technology specialist programs. Bloomington, IN: Author. Berlo, D. (1960). h e process of communication. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. Charters, W. W. (1945). Is there a i eld of educational engineering? Educational Research Bulletin, 24(2), 29–37, 53. Commission on Instructional Technology. (1970). To improve learning: A report to the President and the Congress of the United States. Washington, DC: U. S. Government Printing Oi ce. Ely, D. P. (1963). e changing role of the audiovisual process: A dei nition and glossary of related terms. Audiovisual Communication Review, 11(1), Supplement 6. Ely, D. P. (1972). h e i eld of educational technology: A statement of dei nition. Audiovisual Instruction, 17, 36–43. Ely, D. P. (1973). Dei ning the i eld of educational technology. Audiovisual Instruction, 18(3), 52–53. ER5861X_C010. indd 280 ER5861X_C010. indd 280 8/16/07 6:24:31 PM 8/16/07 6:24:31 PM10. A HISTORY OF THE AECT’S DEFINITIONS OF EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY 281 Ely, D. P. (1982). h e dei nition of educational technology: An emerging stability.
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