Sunday, November 4, 2012

Technology is NOT just a tool...

I just attended a (fabulous) conference where the Key Note speaker made the point that technology is just a tool. Now believe it or not, I have heard that before. I have even said it myself. I understand the point that everyone is trying to make. It isn't really about the technology it is about the pedagogy, technology should be like oxygen,  the technology shouldn't come first, etc. etc. etc.

All of that is true, but really technology is not just a tool. Marshall McLuhan famously said "The medium is the message." The technology tools we use impact teaching and learning in more ways than we realize. We use these tools as status symbols (as I write this on my brand new Chromebook) and as political statements (are you a mac or a pc?). The tools we use send many messages about who we are as learners and teachers and schools. Are you a 1 to 1 laptop school, an iPad school, a virtual school, are you an innovative teacher, a traditional teacher, are you a 21st century teacher?

We shouldn't fool ourselves that these things don't matter. They do. The more we are aware of the messages we send through the tools that we use, the better able we are to send the right messages.



9 comments:

Frank Vitale said...

Your point is well taken. The technology tools we use and how we employ them in our teaching do send a message to our students.

After many of the presentations this weekend, your point expressed in this post become much clearer to me.

Anonymous said...

McLuhan's statement can, in the right place, at the right time, be warranted, but sometimes it really is the message that we're trying to portray. Students are already distracted by the technological medium; they're going to learn about the medium all by themselves. Our job is to teach them the things they can't or won't learn by themselves. In this respect the technology *should* mostly be just technology.

The idea that educators should take any single approach to educating is preposterous, yet educators are labeled as traditional, 21st century, progressive, etc., in discussions that suggest some approaches are better or worse than others. The fact is, none of these is bad, and we need them all. Students need to be exposed to many teaching and learning methods; we even promote this approach in post secondary and graduate education.

There's nothing wrong with teaching using the latest technology, but lets focus on education, not technology. Education is the message.

Jeff Utecht said...

Agree!
http://www.thethinkingstick.com/technology-more-than-a-tool-a-new-skill/

Jeff Utecht said...

Agreed!

http://www.thethinkingstick.com/technology-more-than-a-tool-a-new-skill/

Quentin Morris said...

My name is Michael Morris and I am a student in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama. I agree that the technology we use says a lot about us. While I don't have a stand in the mac vs. pc battle (I have an iPhone and an iPad, but my desktop is a pc), I know that I am "judged" by the type of phone I use. Every day, before I get out of my car, I tuck my iPhone cord into my middle console to avoid the possibility of my car being robbed. The iPhone cord shows that I have an iPhone, which makes it look like I am wealthy. The truth is... I am a broke college student even though I have a full-time job. Just like my iPhone (and its cord) make a statement about me, the technology used in classrooms makes a statement about the school and school system. While technology is a tool used in the classroom, it shouldn't be seen as just a tool, rather a way of teaching.

what is video said...

Thanks for the posts. Way intellectual stuff.

Trident University said...

Agreed that technology is a tool but a very powerful one that allows easier access to information. Not to mention the fact that it can encourage learning since students may find it more fun to incorporate technology to their lesson plans.

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

The cost of running a traditional class far outweighs that of an online one. So, if even part of the class is online, well, an institution has spare seats in class to fill with new students and more revenue. If you looked at tech purely from a revenue perspective you'd make the switch tomorrow. But, the old style classrooms will keep hanging in there for as long as the old style teachers, and admin staff call the shots. We're just about at that moment - can't you feel it!

Anonymous said...

We must be careful that technology is not being used as a crutch. I find that my students in high school who have used technology in the earlier grades, lack very basic knowledge skills. Technology is great, but the students still need to know how to write and comprehend; and that will only be garnered by hard work, reading, and the practice of writing. Technology must step aside for these basics. Research needs to be taught with hard copy, and the old pen and paper approach first in order to stop plagiarism. On a personal note, I love technology and use it to teach boradcast and run the yearbook, I love my kindle and could not live without my Ipad.