Instructional Technology/Evaluation of IT as a profession

An Evaluation of IT as A Professional Field


Finn's Criteria for Profession


Finn (1953) explained the characteristics of a profession: “. . . (a) an intellectual technique, (b) an application of that technique to the practical affairs of man, (c) a period of long training necessary before entering into the profession, (d) an association of the members of the profession into closely-knit group with a high quality of communication between members, (e) a series of standards and a statement of ethics which is enforced, and (f) an organized body of intellectual theory constantly expanding by research.” (p. 232). Recent situation of the field of IT is going to be evaluated in the following sections.

An Intellectual Technique


Today, IT field has five domains, design, develop, utilization, management, and evaluation, including their own intellectual techniques (Seels & Richey, 1994). For the design domain, the professional people design effective instructions from need assessment to evaluation phase by applying learning theories to design of instruction, making decision about delivery methods and its appropriate design issues, and assessing characteristics of people for instruction (What is instructional technology?, n.d.). To conduct that processes, there are many different models and tools, such as ADDIE model, Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction, Need Analysis, and etc. For the development domain, instructional technologies make their design document applicable in which the instruction is going to be implemented. Januszewski (2001) asserted that instructional development is an intellectual technique for educational technology. The field has gained the process orientation by concepts and activities collected under instructional development. The methodologies differ based on the product to be developed. For example, if the product is educational software, IT professional design story boards or event charts that are useful for the development phase of the software. For the utilization domain, IT professionals are in charge of knowledge utilization, classroom use of AV materials and technology, instructional program material implementation separated from design, and utilization of changes, policies and regulations, institutionalization. Classroom use of AV materials was identified as the first professional intellectual technique of IT (Finn, 1953). For the management domain, IT professionals can involve or conduct project management, resource management, delivery systems management, information management, and change management processes. For example, forming teams for the projects or controlling adaptation of an innovation into organizations are some of the tasks they are responsible. For evaluation part, professionals can perform problem analysis, criterion referenced measurement, formative, summative, and confirmative evaluations. For example, an instructional technologist can collect data regarding effectiveness of a training program and make decision about the program, participants, and overall impact on the organization.

Practical Application of the Technique


We can easily observe a huge number of applications of instructional technology field. For example, usage of computers in general education as well as integration of technology into teacher training programs, web based learning environments, on-line universities, application of performance improvement interventions, training programs and evaluations, open universities, teleconference supported distance learning, multimedia product development companies, computer adaptive testing and so on. For every step of these applications, well trained instructional technologists are required.

Long Period of Training


Currently, the field of instructional technology has own master, philosophy of doctorate, and educational doctorate program overall the world. A number of people are graduated from the programs every year. The programs are located generally under educational psychology, curriculum and instruction, and educational administration departments with respect to their emphasized approaches. Even though each program differs from each other in some points, there are a lot of common courses and curriculum. Main areas emphasized in the IT curriculum are teacher training, K-12 education, interactive technologies or multimedia, human performance technology, and human-computer interaction. Graduates of IT can work as academicians, media specialists, performance consultants, multimedia or web based course developers and designers, training managers and etc. As Finn (1953) stated in his profession evaluation that the training period of IT has been more theoretical based rather than apprenticeship training. The programs propose that they teach all necessary competencies necessary for IT professionals. A survey results points out that many universities offering IT education includes many of the basics for training developers and instructional designers but there are still additional courses (Morlan & Lu, 1993). Hence, the result illustrates that the university curriculum cannot meet the professional trainers and instructional designers in the field. This study also shows the improvement of IT programs to meet the professional need of the field.

Association and Communication between Members


Today there are a number of associations dedicated to the field of IT. For example, Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT), American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI), International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE) are the most famous organizations (Associations and Organizations for Instructional Technology, n.d.). The establishment of these institutions effect greatly professional development by funding studies related to competencies and sponsoring conferences to encourage and proliferate research and development of the field (Larson, 2004). Quality communication between the members are being succeeded by not only conferences but also journals published. For example, Educational Research and Development and TechTrends by AECT, The Journal of Research fir Technology in Education and Learning and Leading with Technology by ISTE, Performance Improvement Journal and Performance Improvement Quarterly by ISPI, Educational Technology Review and Journal of Technology and Teacher Education by AACE are only a few part of the journal in the IT field. In addition to the conferences and journals, there are some listserv, such as ITFORUM, DISTED, EDTECH, EDUTEL, and WWWEDU (Associations and Organizations for Instructional Technology, n.d.). They support on-line discussion between the members of the field via using e-mail.

Code of Ethics and Standards


With the support of the leading organizations, there are a number of standards and code of ethics. AECT’s A Code of Professional Ethics (2001) and ISTE’s Code of Ethics for Members of the Organization (2005) and National Educational Technology Standards (2000), and Standards of Performance Technology and Code of Ethics (2002a, 2002b) are the some of important examples.

Intellectual Theory and Research


On the contrary of Finn evaluation in 1953, currently the field of IT and its professionals are challenging not only practical but also theoretical concerns. The constant interaction between theory and practice are now clearer because the field of IT has determined its roots systems theory, behavioral psychology, and audio-visual education. The systems theories support the field with analysis and synthesis activities. This root also provides field with engineering thinking for the usage of educational activities. It extends the interaction between AV and communication thinking. Moreover individualized instruction and learning theories (Januszewski, 2001), programmed instruction and teaching machines, and psychological testing (Skinner, 1958) are only some of the examples of utilization stemmed from behavioral psychology in IT field. An AV root of the IT is extended with the addition of communication theories and systems theories. As well as three roots shape the theoretical foundations of the IT field, Human Performance Technology brings business theories, such as Scarce Resource Theory, Human Capital Theory, and Sustainable Resource Theory (Swanson, 1999).

In the IT field, currently researchers can produce hypothesis based on the wide range scope of theories. That is why the field is open to expand and improve its knowledge and technique. Moreover, there are constant assessments of practical applications.

As a result of this, new theories are being emerged to make the field’s practice making sense for all professionals. The huge number of scholar journals and publications are the strongest evidence for the improvement of intellectual theory and practice.



The six criteria of Finn (1953) for a profession show that the field of IT has been already a profession. Even though it has some practical problems that are also the same in the other professions, it has been satisfying all of the criteria.


  • Association for Educational Communications and Technology (2001). A Code of Professional Ethics. Retrieved December 11, 2006, from
  • Associations and Organizations for Instructional Technology (n.d.). Retrieved December 11, 2006 from
  • Finn, J. (1953). Professionalizing the audio-visual field. In D. P. Ely & Plomp T. (Eds.), Classic Writings on Instructional Technology (Vol. 1, pp. 231 – 241). Englewood: Libraries Unlimited, Inc.
  • International Society for Technology in Education (2005). Code of ethics for members of the organization. Retrieved December 11. 2006. from *International Society for Technology in Education (2000). National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers. Retrieved December 11, 2006, from
  • International Society for Performance Improvement (2002a). Performance Technology Standards. Retrieved December 11, 2006, from
  • International Society for Performance Improvement (2002b). Code of Ethics. Retrieved December 11, 2006, from
  • Januszewski, A. (2001). Educational Technology: The Development of a Concept. Englewood, Colorado: Libraries Unlimited, Inc.
  • Larson, M. B. (2004). Survey and case study analyses of the professional preparation of instructional design and technology (IDT) graduates for different career environments. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia.
  • Morlan, J. E. & Lu, M. (1993). A Survey of Media and Instructional Technology Competencies Needed by Business, Industry, Health Professions, Agencies, Military Trainers, and Independent Contractors in Northern California, USA. (Report No. IR 016 300). (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED362188).
  • Seels, B.A. & Richey, R.C. (1994). Instructional Technology: The Definition and Domains of the Field. Washington, D.C.: Association for Educational Communications and Technology.
  • Swanson, R.A. (1999). The foundations of performance improvement and implications for practice. In R. J. Torraco (Ed.) Performance improvement theory and practice (pp. 1-25). Baton Rouge, LA: Academy of Human