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Researching Educational Technologies

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Futures Study
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Case Study
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7134EDN Research

This week we will:

  • Explore Post Internet Educational Technologies;
  • Examine the range of Educational Technology research approaches; and
  • Methodologies


Research Methodologies

Now that you have some perspective on reality and how we can learn about that reality, we can explore ways that we can research both that reality and how we learn.

The approaches we can take to research are called Methodologies. Methods are the tools we use, but Methodologies are how we justify the use of particular tools/Methods.

As with Epistemologies, there exists a wide range of Methodologies, but they can be described in various categories, and these can align with your ontology and epistemology, described collectively as a paradigm.


In conducting research, you should be able to link your paradigm, ontology, epistemology, theoretical perspective, and methodology, to inform your choice of research tool/method and where you will source data for your research.


Educational Technology Research Approaches

With new Educational Technologies becoming available every year, they offer an ongoing opportunity to conduct research on their impact on education and society, and a range of research methodologies has developed to support the research of Educational Technologies.

We are going to focus on those research methodologies that are commonly used in Educational Technologies research.

Luo (2011) describes three Qualitative research methodologies in Educational Technology Research: Ethnography, Case Studies and Design-Based Research, and you will be exploring Case Study research for your final Portfolio of Learning study.


Multidisciplinary Methods in Educational Technology Research and Development by Randolph (2011) provides a comprehensive overview of the Educational Technology research and you should examine Chapters 1 and 2.

Randolph (2011) found that the most frequently seen types of educational technology research problems are:

  • a disconnect between how educational theory informs technologies for education, and vice versa;
  • a need for information about the best methods for educational technology research and development;
  • a need for information about the best methods to implement and improve the utility of technological innovations;
  • a need for information about the effectiveness of certain kinds of technological interventions; and
  • a need for information about what factors moderate the effectiveness of certain kinds of technological interventions.

Typically, research in educational technology is conducted for one or more of the following purposes:

  • to answer questions that are important for the development of an educational intervention;
  • to answer questions that are important to local stakeholders to improve, come to understand, or
  • assign value to a program;

Randolph (2011) categories of Educational Technology Research questions as:

  • Design-based research questions;
  • Evaluation questions; and
  • Education research questions.

With four types of Educational Technologies research questions:

  • Questions about theory and practice.
  • Questions about the implementation of technology.
  • Questions about the effectiveness of a technological intervention.
  • Questions about factors that moderate the effectiveness of a technological intervention.

Randolph (2011) describes a range of Methodologies commonly used in Educational Technologies research, and you should examine these in some detail to determine a methodology that you will describe in your Self Study.

Quantitative approaches:

  • Survey Research;
  • Causal-comparative Research;
  • Correlational Research; and
  • Experimental research.

Qualitative approaches:

  • Narrative research;
  • Phenomenological;
  • Ethnographic research;
  • Case Study; and
  • Grounded theory research.

Post to Teams an example of Educational Technology research you have found interesting, and try and describe the Methodology and Methods used.

Challenges of Educational Technologies Research

Educational Technologies research is a relatively new field and faces a range of developmental challenges. Roblyer (2005) in Educational Technology Research That Makes a Difference, describes the main challenges of Educational Technologies Research as: Significance (studies should address significant educational problems, as opposed to a proposed technology solution), Rationale (lack of well-articulated supporting methodology), Design (poor matching of methodology to the methods used), Comprehensive Reporting (studies need sufficient detail for further studies to build on their approach and findings), and Cumulativity (the need for sufficient studies to support change in educational practices).

Criticisms of Educational Technology Research

Educational Technologies research does face criticism, Veletsianos and Moe (2017) in The Rise of Educational Technology as a Sociocultural and Ideological Phenomenon, highlight that:

  • the increased focus on educational technology is influenced by a societal acceptance of free-market principles and in response to the increasing costs of higher education;
  • the technocentric view that technology can solve challenges combines with a vision of education as a product that can be packaged, automated, and delivered to students; and
  • edtech failures are likely without collaboration between edtech developers and teachers/academics to make each other aware of edtech's potential and deep understandings of how learning and teaching occur.

Post Internet Educational Technologies

While Educational Technologies have existed throughout human history, there have been a multitude of Educational Technologies developed since the introduction of the internet:

  • Since the widespread use of the internet in the 1990's, a wide range of Educational Technologies have developed to make use of the internet. Starting with file transmission and simple text messaging systems, the rapid development of email and especially hypertext documents - what became known as the World Wide Web, transformed remote learning that was previously carried out using physically mailed documents or radio.
  • The inclusion of images and eventually sound and video, resulted in multimedia, podcasts, and video streaming such as Youtube, each furthering online and campus-based education.
  • As more and more resources became available online, content management systems were developed to organise and control access to resources. Known as Learning Management Systems (LMS), access to content could be organised into courses that only selected students could access, communication with sets of enrolled students facilitated, and files (assignments) collected from these students. Initially developed for business training, LMS's generally have a strong instructivist pedagogical approach, with content presented to students, students working through content and activities related to this content, and then they are assessed on their understanding of the content.
  • Social Media developed in the mid-2000's and changed the way many people interact online, and this has strongly influenced online education, with collective sharing and communication structured around many lurkers (those not directly participating but observing) and relatively few active contributors. This developed into Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC's) in the late 2000's, where 10's of thousands of students could participate in free online courses. MOOC's split into two main types, those that relied upon the contribution of participants to generate content and discussion, with peer assessment used to measure learning; and those that modelled more traditional online courses where content was developed by instructors, mostly as video clips, discussion encouraged and supported but not integral, and assessment generally being in the form of online quizzes. This model lent itself to commercialisation where students can access content for free but pay for assessment and credentialing, moving away from open MOOC concept.
  • Increased access to personal technology occurred in the early 2010's with the introduction of smartphones and tablets, combined with falling laptop prices, resulting in expectations that all students would have access to a digital device all of the time. The Australian government funding a Digital Education Revolution - providing 1:1 devices to years 9 to 12 students in schools, set this expectation in schools and this also became the expectation in higher education, computer laboratories were reduced in numbers and students expected to bring their own digital devices to support their learning, known as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device).
  • Virtual Worlds, 3D interactive environments where videogame-like avatars are controlled by learners as they interact with virtual objects, environments, and other participants became popular in the early 2000's, with many universities creating virtual campuses,
  • Virtual Reality, while first introduced into education in the 90's, made a resurgence in 2016 with a crowd-funded headset the Occulus Rift. Capturing the attention of major technology firms, Virtual and Augmented reality systems have since been developed by Facebook, Sony, Google and Microsoft.

The focus of Educational Technologies research has changed relatively little since its inception in the 1970's:

However, some areas wax and wane in importance, as new technologies become a focus of attention.

Educational technology research focus areas over the last 50 years



Some of the Post Internet Educational Technologies in use at Griffith University are detailed in a Tech Ecosystem interactive, and this may assist in identifying the Educational Technology you use as an example in your Self Study.



Post to Teams your experience with an Educational Technology post-internet.

Educational Technology Timeline

Contribute at least 5 Educational Technologies that have been introduced since the internet, to the incomplete timeline below by adding to an online spreadsheet.

Add your 5 Post Internet Educational Technologies to the timeline by completing rows in the spreadsheet (as a minimum include the date, name, and a link to an online image of the technology, and your name) - do not forget to include your name in the Student Name column. To add an entry, you may need to expand the spreadsheet (top right) and to see the changes on the course website you may need to refresh/reload the webpage.

Post Internet Timeline

Post to Teams your experience with a Learning Management System.