2. What is the Knowledge Base?
These standards have been developed within the context of several years of effort
by AECT to define the field of educational technology and to specify the knowledge
base for the field. The general curriculum overview is based on Instructional
Technology: The Definition and Domains of the Field (Seels & Richey, 1994)
and The Knowledge Base of Instructional Technology: A Critical Examination (Richey,
Caffarella, Ely, Molenda, Seels, & Simonson, 1993). The Instructional Technology
document provides a definition of the field and describes the domains and subdomains
of the field. The Knowledge Base document provides an in-depth examination of
the knowledge base for each domain.
The current standards are significantly changed from earlier versions that were
based upon roles and functions of instructional technology professionals. The
new standards are grounded in the research and theory of the field as described
in the knowledge base of the field.
The definition of instructional technology prepared by the AECT Definitions
and Terminology Committee is as follows:
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 (Seels
& Richey, 1994, pp. 1-9).
This definition is clearly grounded in the knowledge base of the field of instructional
These standards for the NCATE program review documentation are likewise grounded
in the knowledge base of the field. The knowledge base for the field is divided
into five interrelated domains: design, development, utilization, management,
and evaluation as shown in Figure 1 (Seels & Richey, 1994, p. 21). Within
each domain there are subdomains that serve to describe each domain. For example,
evaluation is divided into problem analysis, criterion-referenced measurement,
formative evaluation, and summative evaluation.
The relationship among the domains
shown in Figure 1 is not linear, but synergistic. Although research may focus
on one specific domain or subdomain, practice, in reality, combines functions
in all or several domains.
For example, a practitioner working in the development domain uses theory from
the design domain, such as instructional systems design theory and message design
theory. A practitioner working in the design domain uses theory about media
characteristics from the development and utilization domains and theory about
problem analysis and measurement from the evaluation domain. (Seels & Richey,
1994, p. 25)Each domain also contributes to the other domains as well as to
the research and theory shared by the domains.
An example of shared theory is theory about feedback which is used in some way
by each of the domains. Feedback can be included in both an instructional strategy
and message design. Feedback loops are used in management systems, and evaluation
provides feedback. (Seels & Richey, 1994, pp. 25-26)
The Definition and Terminology Committee has provided descriptions for each
of the domains:
Design refers to the process of specifying conditions for learning. ... Development
refers to the process of translating the design specifications into physical
form. ... Utilization refers to the use of processes and resources for learning.
... Management refers to processes for controlling instructional technology.
... Evaluation is the process for determining the adequacy of instruction. (Seels
& Richey, 1994, pp. 24-43)
The Committee has also provided a description for each of the subdomains of
the knowledge base.
The content for the knowledge base of each domain is provided in a series of
papers entitled The Knowledge Base of Instructional Technology: A Critical Examination
(Richey, Caffarella, Ely, Molenda, Seels, & Simonson, 1993). The key elements
of the knowledge base of each domain are described in detail in these papers.
Although researchers may concentrate their efforts in only one domain, most
ECIT practitioners will be employed in roles that draw upon multiple domains.