It’s Not About the Technology

It’s one of those trite statments that you read/hear all the time when people talk about technology in the classroom.  

As I compose my thoughts for this post, I’m watching the Formula 1 qualifying from Yeongam.  

I can’t help but think about the comparison between racing and education.  If we make the statement and apply it to racing, I could be driving my first vehicle, a 1959 Chevrolet Apache pickup truck with the wooden bed and the starter on the floor, around the track.  After all, racing is just about going around a circuit and finishing the best you can, right?

Of course, education is about learning.  It goes without saying but where is the recognition that technology makes it contemporary and offers students all kinds of opportunities to engage and learn faster?

Imagine you’re sitting in a staff meeting and your principal states “It’s not about the technology”.  You look around the room and see…

Luddite

  • It’s not about the technology so there’s no need to use it.  I’ve been teaching the same content the same way for 15 years and there’s no need to change.  If I leave my laptop unplugged, the battery will go dead and I’ll have that excuse.

Low Level

  • It’s not about the technology so there’s no need to use it well in the classroom.  I am scheduled in “the lab” so I’ll take my kids there to Google stuff or watch videos.  It will be a nice break from the regular routine.

Low-Medium Level

  • It’s not about the technology so there’s really no need to teach any of this.  But, I’m going to continue to take my students to the lab so that they can type out their stories.  It makes them so much easier to read.

Medium Level

  • It’s not about the technology but it is about the curriculum.  There are some great tutorials that the kids can work their way through.

High Level

  • I think what she meant was that it wasn’t about learning how the technology works.  We’ll use the software on the computer where it’s important and connect outside the classroom where possible.  I like how my students get excited when someone comments on their blog posts or we Skype an expert into the class.

Over the top

  • I know she meant the statement in a way to comfort people but technology means so much.  We’re using Web 2.0 tools, connecting students to learning experiences, doing group work with our laptops and student devices when they have them.  We’re not just doing things differently; we’re doing different things to address the expectations in the Ontario Curriculum.

Silly?  Wouldn’t your students like to strap themselves into a Ferrari or McLaren or Sauber and blow past those slower modes of transportation?  How about slower modes of learning?

There still is a place, however, for my pickup truck.  I always head to the classics section of car shows just in case there’s one on display.  It brings back fond memories but I sure wouldn’t want to rely on it today.

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    8 Replies to “It’s Not About the Technology”

    1. Hi Doug. Great post. I agree that you have to have a good familiarity with the technology to know how to best use it with the curriculum. Still, I’m one of those people who tells others who are less familiar with tech that “it’s not about the technology” to put them at ease. When they’re so intimidated by the vast tech resources, it’s important to remind them that they already have a wealth of experience in how kids learn and we want to draw on that to help them find the best “fit” for them (as well as the kids) when it comes to integrating tech. Teachers have to “buy in” as much as the kids do. And that takes a certain amount of comfort and familiarity at the start. Otherwise, frustration will send everyone back to square one. We don’t want to reinforce the “luddite” stage. That’s why I think it’s so important for school boards to hire full time education tech consultants in their board. People who will help prevent the “groundhog day effect” that we “tech forgers” have encountered. People who can help others find that custom fit. People who can show how tech is amplifying learning, not just through student engagement, but through changing, tweaking, and multiplying opportunities for collaboration, critical thinking, memory-processing, attention-regulating, accountability through transparency, engaging in citizenship, and reaching various audiences.

      P.S. I have a confession. My pick-up truck is a good long narrative in paperback format.

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    2. The importance of saying it’s not about the technology is in reminding people that it has to be about more. Too often educators take the same things they are doing, slap some technology on it and think they are now innovative or cutting edge. Examples would be flash cards on iPads, SMART boards where students watch teacher’s manipulate things, computers used as typewriters and so on. If we are interested in making a difference and changing how children learn it has to be about more than just the tech. It has to be about taking advantage of all the new ways of facilitating learning that the tech makes available. That’s why the distinction is important.

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