Educational Technology & Society 2(2) 1999
ISSN 1436-4522

The Encyclopedia of Educational Technology

(Website review)

Reviewer: Dorota Mularczyk
Independent Researcher & Web Designer

Site URL:

Site title:
The Encyclopedia of Educational Technology

(The site is produced and maintained under the editorship of Dr. Bob Hoffman, San Diego State University, USA.)

Objective of the site:
Objectives of the site can be broadly expressed as:
  • helping the expected audience to get familiar with the educational technology related topics; and
  • explaining variety of topics which are contained in this broad domain together with its new issues and developments
Although not stated on the site, one can conclude that the audience of "The Encyclopedia of Educational Technology" could consist of instructors and students with internet access, curriculum developers, technology coordinators, site designers and other interested parties.

Domain Related Aspects:
The domain of the site is educational technology. The Encyclopedia is divided into nine broad sections, each having a number of short articles. The sections are:

Distance education
This section provides an introductory view on distance education and its different aspects. The new view of instructor's role is professed, namely the instructor being a facilitator between the student and the learning source. Several guidelines are provided for instructors concerning the use of teleconferencing as a teaching method. The section also introduces Intelligent Tutoring Systems considering it as an important element in the process of learning which can provide individualized tutoring or instruction.

Message design
This section examines psychological aspects of information processing, exploring how to make effective messages from the point of view of getting attention of the learners using different modes of presentation. It contains not only psychological articles but also the ones focused on technical aspects of webpage design.

Object orientation
This short section contains two articles describing objects as a way of perceiving the world and their characteristics.

Performance analysis
This section contains five articles starting from methods of conducting performance analysis through training needs assessment and ending on why performance analysis should be conducted in organizations.

This section mainly considers the use of graphs as a way of conveying the statistical information and deciding which kind of graph to choose for what type of audience.

Television learning
This section explores the role of television in family dynamics and relevance of the subject to instructional technologist. It also puts a thesis that a medium such as television influences the way people process information. The last part describes streaming video - method of transferring the video films to internet in a compressed way with the help of encoders.

Using colors
This section treats about color as an element of design which can convey messages and create ideas. It considers the psychological aspects of color e.g. creating a particular atmosphere (mood) using the right color combination.

Visual literacy
This section discusses instructional metaphors as tools of relation of objects in cyberspace to the objects of physical world. It also talks about learning with the help of illustrated text as a method of strengthening the whole learning process. This section contains some topics which are similar to other sections e.g. elements of web and multimedia design.

Virtual reality
This section considers different aspects of virtual reality. It starts with the applications of virtual reality in various disciplines, considers the use of simulations in learning process and in the end gives brief description of virtual reality modeling language which enables the users to interact with 3D objects via the World Wide Web.

The site content is provided by students and associates of the San Diego State University, USA. It contains wide range of topics covering technical, social and psychological aspects of educational technology. Some topics are purely theoretical, whereas some contain useful practical guidelines.

The articles are rather short, so the visitor can get basic view on the subject without getting overwhelmed with too much information. Actually the site provides greater scope of topics than I expected to find there. The site can be recommended as a good reference resource.

Interface Related Aspects:
The layout of the website is clear and structure is easy to follow. The site is frame-based. The pages in the site contain clear structure often with content-type links at the beginning.

The site contains just sufficient information on the concerned topics in order to give an idea of what this is all about. The site is rich in many attention-focusing pictures which make it more interesting to visit. From content point of view they are quite relevant. From graphical point of view the pictures are very colorful and interesting, they vary from charts to scanned photos. They would benefit with alternative text to the images in case of longer loading time.

The site is really "encyclopedia" alike although it does not provide the index of terms. There is no search facility in this site so it is not possible to look for a particular keyword. However clear content structure helps the reader to find particular subject of his/her interest.

In order to enjoy extra effects of the site (like manipulating 3D objects in virtual reality section) one requires to download freely available plug-ins such as ShockWave or QuickTime VR.

Although the site does not have its own navigational buttons (back, home etc.), it is easy to navigate. Practically it contains one level of links and one can easily move through it without getting lost.

External links:
Considering the large size of the site and its wealth of topics, there are relatively few external links. That's why the site seems to be self-contained. It has many "internal" links to other articles in the same website. More external links could serve further reference purposes.

Overall issues:
The Encyclopedia can be well used as a reference resource. It shows a broad view on the domain and contains a lot of information on the concerned topics, including several practical advice. It helps the readers to broaden their perspective on the educational technology and its developments. It can also serve as source of guidelines and ideas of what one needs to take into consideration when designing a course with the help of technology.

The statement of objectives and to whom the site is dedicated would benefit potential visitors saving their time and assuring them that this is the site where they will find issues important for them.

The site is large and contains many pictures which automatically have impact on its loading time. However, considering these aspects overall download time seems standard for this type of websites.

Final notes:
The site is free from any advertisements.

Last update of the site: February 1998.