Skip to main content

What is Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences?

Instructional technology (or educational technology) is all about using technology effectively for teaching, training or learning.

The field of learning sciences is all about the psychology and science behind how people learn.

Our program has faculty specializing in both. We conduct research which is published in journals representative of both fields.

Below are definitions from reputable professional organization in these fields.

Discover More

For more information about our programs (courses, paths, campus life, funding), see our prospective students page.

Prospective Students

Instructional Technology

From the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT)

"Instructional technology is the theory and practice of design, development, utilization, management, and evaluation of processes and resources for learning... The words 'Instructional Technology' in the definition mean a discipline devoted to techniques or ways to make learning more efficient based on theory but theory in its broadest sense, not just scientific theory... Theory consists of concepts, constructs, principles, and propositions that serve as the body of knowledge. Practice is the application of that knowledge to solve problems. Practice can also contribute to the knowledge base through information gained from experience... Of design, development, utilization, management, and evaluation... refer to both areas of the knowledge base and to functions performed by professionals in the field... Processes are a series of operations or activities directed towards a particular result... Resources are sources of support for learning, including support systems and instructional materials and environments... The purpose of instructional technology is to affect and effect learning."

From the Commission on Instructional Technology and Distance Learning

"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 nonhuman resources to bring about more effective instruction."

Learning Sciences

From the American Educational Research Association (AERA)

"Learning Sciences is an interdisciplinary community devoted to the study of teaching and learning as they occur in school, online, in the workplace, at home, and in the community, and to the design of environments with the potential to facilitate learning and development more effectively. One strand of emphasis within this community is the examination of emerging technologies as potential levers for change and supports for learning. More broadly, members of this group use analytic units ranging from individual learners to complex systems in advancing the combined goals of explaining, guiding and developing educational phenomena. This research is guided by multiple theoretical perspectives, including cognitive, constructivist, situative and sociocultural theories of learning. While drawing upon a range of established methodologies, this community also seeks to examine new approaches, such as design-based research, in an effort to meet the dual challenge of solving problems of practice and building new theory."

From the International Society of the Learning Sciences (ISLS)

"The International Society of the Learning Sciences, incorporated as a non-profit professional society in September, 2002, unites the traditions started by the Journal of the Learning Sciences, the International Conferences of the Learning Sciences (ICLS), and the Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning Conferences (CSCL) and offers publications, conferences, and educational programs to the community of researchers and practitioners who use cognitive, socio-cognitive, and socio-cultural approaches to studying learning in real-world situations and designing environments, software, materials, and other innovations that promote deep and lasting learning.

"Researchers in the interdisciplinary field of learning sciences, born during the 1990's, study learning as it happens in real-world situations and how to better facilitate learning in designed environments – in school, online, in the workplace, at home, and in informal environments. Learning sciences research is guided by constructivist, social-constructivist, socio-cognitive, and socio-cultural theories of learning."

Additional Resources:

Instructional Design Central
eLearning Coach