This Conference comes at an important time for Australian education and for Australian industry. There is a growing realisation in the community (and more importantly among politicians) that in order to establish and develop our industrial strengths as a nation we must provide more efficient training and education - not only to students at all levels within the formal education systems but to those already in the work force, or wanting to be in it. The next step in the process is going to be: how do we do it? How do we design for learning in industry and education? And perhaps more importantly, how do we convince the powers that be of the need to support the use of new methods of learning that must inevitably be developed if educators and trainers are to meet the new challenges with the limited resources available to them?
Educational technology is defined by the Australian Society for Educational Technology (ASET) as the design, development, application and evaluation of systems, methods and materials to improve the process of human learning - in other words, ways of helping people learn more effectively. ASET's definition of educational technology is certainly comprehensive, but in the minds of the general public, and politicians as well, technology equals machines, not techniques. Maybe what is required is a new name, a clearer definition, even a marketing campaign designed to spread the word about what learning opportunities can be made available to satisfy the range of education and training needs felt in the community. This is one question the EdTech'88 Conference must consider.
"Instructional design" is a term which has some currency today but it has limitations. The giving of instruction does not imply learning, which is after all the important aspect of the process, although one which is sometimes forgotten.
Designing for learning, developing solutions, delivering them and deciding whether there has been a successful outcome are what it is all about, but how you communicate that in the name of a Society and how you go about convincing others of the vital importance of a professional and coordinated approach to helping people learn effectively must also be considered over the three days of the Conference and beyond.
The program for this Conference is a broad one, covering many different aspects of the question of designing for learning. There are new tools, there are new ways of using existing tools, there are insights into the natures of the variety of learners whose individual learning styles must be accommodated. There are also insights into experience elsewhere which may help us to consider more appropriate solutions in our unique environment. Above all, there is the opportunity to look at the many, many facets of learning design, always with the question in mind: How can this make learning more effective?
After the delivery of the sessions and the dialogue that will inevitably follow, I hope that there will be a clearer view of what educational technology is and what it can offer to the education and training communities.
I look forward to the demands and challenges we are about to face.
|Please cite as: Boomer, G. (1988). Introduction. In J. Steele and J. G. Hedberg (eds), Designing for Learning in Industry and Education, iv. Proceedings of EdTech'88. Canberra: AJET Publications. http://www.aset.org.au/confs/edtech88/boomer.html|