Instructional Technology: A Challenge to Curriculum Workers (1963)

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Peter W. F. Witt, a Professor of Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, begins his April 1963Educational Leadership editorial “Instructional Technology: A Challenge to Curriculum Workers” (PDF) by casting the effects of technology on education in grand, sweeping terms: “Developments in instructional technology during the past decade have been phenomenal. Emanating from the modern technological revolution and reflecting the tempo of the times, these developments have burst upon the educational scene with increasing frequency, tremendous impact and far-reaching consequences.”

The developments Witt refers to are the revolutions of televised instruction and language labs. While Witt mentions the potential of satellite communications, it had not yet reached classrooms; “schools in one six-state region in the Midwest are receiving televised instructional programs from an airplane circling overhead at high altitude.” He also describes the emerging practice of “teaching machines” and “programmed instruction,” although, sadly, readers are deprived of images of these space-age gizmos.

The article alludes to the larger pedagogical questions which always accompany such technological advances, including appropriate content, as well as training and leadership for the technology, but largely stays within the enjoyable realm of grandiose descriptions of the technology hedged with careful caveats on their effectiveness. Witt’s article leads off the themed EL issue “New Aids—New Opportunities,” which raises questions that will engage the education technology enthusiasts—or skeptics—of today.

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