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The Psychology of Instructional Technology

With digital learning entrenched in the educational landscape, teachers are finding that instructional technology, also known as educational technology, can profoundly impact students’ psychology.

The use of technology in the classroom improves learners’ skills, such as storytelling and problem-solving, while also sparking creativity as they evolve. In addition, instructional technology allows teachers to appeal to every learning style, improve teaching frameworks and outcomes, ease the teaching process, benefit the environment and prepare students to enter the workforce.

The online Master of Science (M.S.) in Instructional Design and Technology program at St. Thomas University (STU) focuses on the power of teaching in the digital age and the effect it has on learners from a psychological standpoint. The program curriculum includes two core courses — Psychological Foundations of Education and Instructional Design: Theories and Models — dedicated to training students to shape online learning by utilizing the power of psychological outcomes.

The former emphasizes the incorporation of learning and development principles into teaching while applying psychological theories and emphasizing teacher effectiveness and diversity. The latter focuses on how theories and models relate to strong instructional design. These courses provide the knowledge needed for educators to understand how educational technology impact students mentally.

Broadening Horizons

One area of digital learning that educators have historically not used is video games, which are inherently engaging to most kids. Now, they are also a valuable part of the education process through instructional technology.

The use of video games as a learning tool helps students practice creativity, problem-solving and computational and systems thinking. Game-based learning allow educators to present a revised version of education to improve learning outcomes and student behaviors and attitudes. Gamification can have a profound impact on learners’ feelings toward education.

The use of game-like learning often includes choices that provide a sense of relevance and common goals for the student while meeting their need for relatedness and autonomy. The use of stories, avatars, fictional teammates and non-player characteristics that apply learning context help achieve this outcome. Collaboration and competition are essential for student social interaction, whether assessed individually or as a group.

Through the experience of being important to a team, learners focus on teamwork and complete challenges they might not be able to accomplish alone, giving them a sense of competence.

Old School, New School

Instructional technology seems to work best when balanced with in-class learning. In a study of students, 84% believe they learn concepts best in a blended scenario. The combination of in-class and online learning tools is also an essential foundation to prepare students to enter the workforce.

For educational technology to be effective, psychologists and research scientists must continue to research and develop these learning tools and strategies. The use of instructional technology and how it impacts student psychology will become a point of emphasis for educators in the future.

Schools should also not rush to judgment on the latest technologies but rather focus on how each emerging technology benefits the education of its students. Preparing for that likelihood is essential, making the coursework in the online M.S. in Instructional Design and Technology program at St. Thomas University all the more valuable.

Learn more about St. Thomas University’s online M.S. in Instructional Design & Technology program.

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