Is Technology Just Another Tool?

Some notes on:  What “counts” as good use of technology in math and science learning environments.

-Applications and devices that allow students to be actively engaged in their own learning

-educators who embrace change and want to try and implement technology into the classroom

-Used for sharing, communicating and displaying work so others can learn from one another

In a previous MET course, I came across the question, “Is technology just another tool to use in education?” This made me think long and hard. If it isn’t, then what is it? I realized that technology is so much more than just a tool. If it can transform the way we do things, is it then just a tool? For example, I will use the app called Padlet to demonstrate my thinking. Sometimes in class, I will ask my students a question and ask them to answer using this app. For one, it allows other shy students to express their thoughts, and to think and reflect on other’s posts at their own pace. Is Padlet a tool? Well, technically yes but it can transform education.

Ideally, such a learning environment would have each student own their own technological device or have one available at school.  With this however comes cost. At this point, most schools don’t have the funds for every student to have their own device let alone each student bring their own from home.  Some schools do have an iPad cart where classes must share, but this is not available all the time.

Learning through technology could address conceptual challenges. For instance, in last week’s video titled, “A Private Universe” Heather believed Earth’s rotation around the Sun was in a figure eight movement. Instead of relying on the teacher to explain what the real movement is, she could use technology and search it up herself in a matter of seconds. Technology is not just a tool, but has transformed our lives and ways of thinking.

3 comments

  1. Hi Sean,

    I agree that technology has the potential to be truly transformative, beyond the categorization of simply being a tool. However, school experiences with learning technologies have been, at times, primarily focused on technology as the “tool” or the “hardware” that students use in order to engage more effectively with their learning, and this sometimes leads to an overemphasis on technological hardware without examining the bigger picture. Seemingly, the hardware is sometimes brought in without a clear design for its usage, and as a result, these learning tools are used at levels that are far less than optimal, and often fall into disuse.

    In terms of pedagogy, it’s essential to understand the theory and the terminology but work beyond it to support students and teachers in meaningful ways that allow for a more natural integration of technology into schools. Teachers that I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with over the past few years have expressed the need to avoid the contrived use of technology for the sake of “using technology.” The value of theoretical approaches to learning and educational technologies and their application to planning, task design and assessment is essential if we are to effectively design, develop, utilize, manage, and evaluate these processes and resources for learning.

    Thanks for your post,

    – Allen.

  2. Hi Sean,
    Do you think that getting students to give their idea via tech would allow those who are shy to be heard more frequently? I had the idea that shy students would remain shy even behind keyboards but I haven’t been able to parse this out yet with my own experiences.
    I think that students’ digital personalities are similar to their real life ones. But I would be interested to hear what you think.

    James

    1. Hi James,
      Sometimes I allow students to post anonymously; therefore they are more willing to say what’s on their mind as opposed to saying something out loud in a verbal class discussion. Padlet is a great application for this where students can speak freely without anyone knowing who it really is.

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