Educational technology is defined by the Association for Educational Communications and Technology as "the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources." Educational technology refers to the use of both physical hardware and educational theoretics.It encompasses several domains, including learning theory, computer-based training, online learning, and, where mobile technologies are used, m-learning.

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Educational technology is not restricted to high technology.

Educational technology encompasses e-learning, instructional technology, information and communication technology (ICT) in education, Ed Tech, learning technology, multimedia learning, technology-enhanced learning (TEL), computer-based instruction (CBI), computer managed instruction, computer-based training (CBT), computer-assisted instruction or computer-aided instruction (CAI), internet-based training (IBT), flexible learning, web-based training (WBT), online education, digital educational collaboration, distributed learning, computer-mediated communication, cyber-learning, and multi-modal instruction, virtual education, personal learning environments, networked learning, virtual learning environments (VLE) (which are also called learning platforms), m-learning, ubiquitous learning and digital education.

Each of these numerous terms has had its advocates, who point up potential distinctive features.

However, many terms and concepts in educational technology have been defined nebulously; for example, Fiedler's review of the literature found a complete lack agreement of the components of a personal learning environment.

Moreover, Moore saw these terminologies as emphasizing particular features such as digitization approaches, components or delivery methods rather than being fundamentally dissimilar in concept or principle.

In practice, a "virtual education course" refers to any instructional course in which all, or at least a significant portion, is delivered by the Internet."Virtual" is used in that broader way to describe a course that is not taught in a classroom face-to-face but through a substitute mode that can conceptually be associated "virtually" with classroom teaching, which means that people do not have to go to the physical classroom to learn.Accordingly, virtual education refers to a form of distance learning in which course content is delivered by various methods such as course management applications, multimedia resources, and videoconferencing.Educational content, pervasively embedded in objects, is all around the learner, who may not even be conscious of the learning process: students may not have to do anything in order to learn, they just have to be there.The combination of adaptive learning, using an individualized interface and materials, which accommodate to an individual, who thus receives personally differentiated instruction, with ubiquitous access to digital resources and learning opportunities in a range of places and at various times, has been termed smart learning.Bernard Luskin, an educational technology pioneer, advocated that the "e" of e-learning should be interpreted to mean "exciting, energetic, enthusiastic, emotional, extended, excellent, and educational" in addition to "electronic." From their introduction, books and pamphlets have held a prominent role in education.