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Most people have had to watch some type of on-boarding video when they are a new hire, whether it be at a customer service job, a breakdown of dangerous chemicals, or an instructional how-to video. We use videos in school and day-to-day life to help explain or expand on a thought process or topic, which aides not only visual learners, but puts all learners on a standardized wavelength. With society being so technologically advanced, it is easy to take this median for granted and dismiss that at one stage this type of education was ground-breaking and revolutionary. Educational technology had to start somewhere and with most advancements it started slowly and quietly, being introduced to a select group before the masses. It can be difficult to imagine that something so creative and intuitive could come from such a destructive time, as the rise of educational technology came with the introduction of World War II (Educational technology. n.d). Within this Synthesis, I will be exploring the basis of when and how we started using media as a training tool and how it paved the way for educational technology.

With a basic search, the educational videos that were used to train the US military during World War II can be viewed on YouTube. From how to fix an automobile, to how an American GI should behave when deployed in Britain, using an educational video during World War II was a cheap and effective way to reach as many soldiers as needed simply by pressing play. “Military training had to be, of necessity, quick, efficient, and standardized…. More learning in less time was perceived to be a necessity and became an immediate goal” (The Handbook of Research for Educational Communities and Technology. n.d.). This aspect is displayed with every video I viewed, and to make the videos more interesting and engaging, actors like Bob Hope and Burgess Meredith were solicited to make the video’s more relatable and entertaining. Showing a video, as opposed to students completing rigorous testing was a way to standardize teachings. as the video could be in layman’s terms, meaning that learning was more accessible than ever. When viewing the archived footage used to train the onboarding soldiers, a subliminal method can clearly be observed, and this is pointed out in The Handbook of Research for Educational Communities and Technology (n.d.), as behavioral educational psychologists helped write the curriculum for these videos. There was an observable trend of the effectiveness of media on the people of Germany, using what is now deemed Mass Media, at the beginning of World War II. Leaders used radio as a form of communication, as a way to spread their message during war times. There had to be a distinct correlation of using a broader, more accessible spectrum to band people together, hence why psychologists were brought in to help speak to a specific type of audience and in turn, spread their own message to a specific audience.

Moreover, there was a surplus of enrollment in World War II, which forced the hand of the Military in regard to finding a more innovative and thoughtful platform to train/onboard new recruits. “In 1939, the US Army only had 174,000 soldiers, including the Army Air Forces. At its peak during the war, the Army grew to over 8 million men and women in uniform, joined by an additional 3.4 million in the Navy” (Marshall, V. 2018, July 11). Training such a large amount of people would be a daunting task, so devising a medium such as educational training videos could cover the basics of what needed to be taught and different videos could be created for those going into specialty areas. This would have helped ease the pressure of finding seasoned veterans to train the new recruits, as their expertise would have been needed elsewhere during war times. As Marshall (2018) pointed, most enrollments were young people who had never travelled outside of their home state, let alone their country. After observing the 1943 video “How to Behave in Britain” I was able to see the great example of how the military was able to successfully educate a large population quickly and how this one example displayed a working relationship between America and Britain, as both contributed towards training the troops. This educational collaboration also ensured that allied troops felt supported in the face of cultural differences with less manpower being used to help guide these new recruits. A video may seem like a dated technology nowadays, however this entertaining source of learning was the gateway to a broader spectrum that has changed names many times but is now classified as digital learning.

Though videos and media are still used within the military classroom, the evolution of technology has become so vast that it has “delineated people into two groups, digital immigrants and digital natives” (Martin, James, 2016). Technology continues to advance and with this growth, people may feel they are left behind. A medium that was created to make learning universal and more accessible can now separate and alienate, as those who fought in World War II would be considered digital immigrants. As Martin points out, those born before 1980 are considered immigrants and even though the generation who fought in World War II began the educational technology journey, the ever-changing world of technology is no longer comparable. Digital natives are those born after 1980 and have never known the world without personal computers, though this does not mean they are experts in the field of technology nor the use of said technology. Martin (2016) put forward a study to observe the satisfaction or frustration a student may experience with digital technology in the classroom, specific to military education. Because students use technology every day, the research study was used to “determine the perception of digital technology in military education and the need for effective learning and instructing in current lessons” (Martin, James, 2016), which aligns closely to the goals outlined in The Handbook of Research for Educational Communities and Technology (n.d.). Gone are the days that students were able to watch a video and get all the information required to do their job, as critical thinking was not necessarily as important during World War II as it is now. The need for research studies into how digital learning affects the military classroom indicates there may be a disconnect with either student or instructor when it comes the ever-growing advancements the 21st century has brought. New recruits need to understand and apply new technology to stay current and relevant in the age that technology is used during modern war fare.

In conclusion, it is hard to think of something as basic as a video as educational technology, but it was the beginning of our digital learning experience. What was once a high-tech advanced tool which was able to train and prepare new recruits for war is now a common technology that is barely looked at as educational technology. “Educational technology aims to improve education. Technology should facilitate learning processes and increase performance of the educational system(s) as it regards to effectiveness and/or efficiency” (Educational technology. n.d.), which outlines the need for the military to grow with the technology, even stay ahead of the curve. Whether someone is pro or anti military is beside the point, as we cannot deny the advancements that came from something as simple as a training video as each article as inferred.


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