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If “It’s not about the technology,” then What is it about?

Nature & Technology
Nature & Technology, by Berlin photography, Svenwerk

This morning, high school English teacher and web master of Web English Teacher, Carla Beard credited me with a quote she used in her blog post, It’s Not About the Technology.  “The most important thing to remember about technology in our classrooms is that it is not about the technology.”  Well it  sounds like something I would say.  It’s what a lot of us are saying.  In fact, this may well be the mantra that is replacing Integrate Technology.  Yet, I’m not sure the statement is that much more useful. [Image ((Svenwerk, "Nature and Technology." Svenwerk's Photostream. 3 Mar 2006. 24 Sep 2008 <http://flickr.com/photos/svenwerk/107267802/>. ))]

Of course, it helps to some degree, as Carla writes,

Last school year I made this concept (It’s Not About the Technology) my theme as I trained teachers to integrate technology into their classrooms. For some the idea was already so ingrained that it went without saying. For others, though, this statement triggered a lightbulb moment. People almost seemed surprised to hear an advocate for technology saying this. They seemed to think that we thought it was about the technology. ((Beard, Carla. “”It’s not about the technology.”.” [Weblog The English Teacher Blog] 24 Sep 2008. 24 Sep 2008 <http://www.enotes.com/blogs/english-teacher-blog/2008-09/its-not-about-the-technology/>.))

I think that it is natural for us to focus on the technology.  Most of us grew up during a century that was, in many ways, defined by it’s machines.  We identify washing clothes with a clothes washing machine, lawn care with a lawn mower, and getting to the store with an automobile.  So, as we witness the emergence of new information and communication technologies, which many of us could not have imagined at the beginning of our careers, it is natural that, as we try to envision “21st century” education, we should try to paint that picture with brush strokes about technology.

To be truthful, I wish that it was about the technology.  It would be much easier for us to affect the changes in education that our children, inheritors of the “21st century,” need and deserve.  Without a beacon, we’re only floundering with a desire to change, without a vision, or choosing to desire no change at all.

So, if it isn’t about the technology, then what is it about?

Those who know me or read this blog know how I would answer that question, and perhaps even know the story of why.  But before I include that information here…

What do you think “it’s about?”

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Comments

  • JenWagner

    It is about our students, their todays and their tomorrows — and encouraging them to be the best they can be (with as many tools available as possible!)

    Good post. I look forward to reading more comments.

  • http://joelzehring.edublogs.org/ Joel Zehring

    Thanks for passing along Carla’s thoughts.

    Jim Collins suggests that great organizations use technology as an accelerator moving toward their big goals. A big goal is defined by a single answer to three questions: What are we passionate about? What can we be the best in the world at? What can we do that will bring in money?

    Education needs a big goal to drive toward. If we’re heading nowhere, then technology will take us there very quickly. Here are some goals I have come across:

    The late Neil Postman suggested some experiments that might engage students: Can a government ensure the rights of it’s citizens while maintaining high levels of freedom? What are the responsibilities of citizens within such a government?

    Additionally, Postman suggests students engage with their local town or city governments and departments to answer this question: How does a town operate? Students can engage in this question by serving alongside city workers in maintenance, planning, decision-making, etc.

    Thomas L. Friedman proposes that we engage our students with the question “How can the people of a nation sustain a thriving post-industrial economy? He suggests that the United States (and it’s students) must answer this question to thrive in the 21st century.

  • http://www.larkin.net.au/ John Larkin

    Arrived here via your Twitter post David. Machines defined the 20th century, but should we allow machines to define teaching and learning as well? To define ourselves? It is not about the technology. As Dr Roger Hayward of St Leonards College in Victoria, Australia points out, “Schools change pedagogy by changing pedagogy, not by changing technology”. ['Leading a digital school', edited by Mal Lee and Michael Gaffney].

    Brush strokes is a nice way to think about it. Just a few brush strokes.

    I personally do not ‘naturally’ think about technology when I think of 21st century education. I think about teaching students how to ‘slow down’, appreciate life, get outside, survive, make choices, find themselves. Perhaps I am a little pessimistic about the 21st century. A few brush strokes of technology mixed in with the brush strokes of life. Glad you made me think.

    Cheers, John
    http://twitter.com/john_larkin

  • Karen

    It is about our students, but most importantly it’s about their ability to communicate and collaborate with each other – to effectively learn how to collaborate with others. Technology is primarily a tool to be used to effect change in their world.
    It is easier to teach students “how to” use the technology, it’s much harder to open up the opportunities to let them explore and build their own learning in ways that don’t match what we call “education”. The co-author on a project no longer has to even live on your continent.

    • http://2cents.davidwarlick.com David Warlick

      Karen,

      I would suggest that it is actually quite easy to “open up the opportunities to let them explore and build their own learning…” What’s hard is getting through the schoolie stuff. I wish I could remember who coined that term. The fuel for exploration is curiosity.

  • http://www.iwasthinking.ca Heidi Hass Gable

    I’m also here via Twitter and this is something I’ve been thinking about from a parent perspective. Created a video called “What I Want for my Children” – see it at http://tinyurl.com/whatiwant

    My background is as an IT project manager, worked the last five years exclusively with school districts. So I’ve seen the huge projects that deploy workstations and servers to schools, only to see a minimal change in teaching practices that is so frustrating – and happens because there’s not enough money or time left for teacher pro-d or mentoring (the stuff that is required for change to happen in the classroom!).

    The huge potential that I see for technology in the classroom is it’s ability to differentiate. My three children are each different – and I think we would all agree that every child is unique. Traditionally, the system only had capacity to differentiate for the kids at the extremes. With technology, there’s so much more potential to allow kids to learn their own way, rather than the way we like to deliver…

    So what it really comes down to for me – it’s not about the technology, it’s about children and meeting their individual learning needs. And how do we support teachers in making a leap in their teaching practices to using technology in a completely different way? Not to do their existing lessons with a bit of computer time, but to think DIFFERENTLY? And that comes down to supporting people, making it safe to try new things, giving them time to explore, providing mentors to show them a different way.

    Like I say in my video – if we want something different for our children, we have to do that for our teachers as well…

    Thanks for putting this conversation out there – it matters for our children!
    Heidi

    • KimT

      Heidi – What a beautiful movie you made. It was touching and so true. I wish we could show it to all of our parents in our school district. If all of the parents could be so understanding and caring, it really would help a lot in our classrooms. Thank you for sharing.

      • http://www.iwasthinking.ca Heidi Hass Gable

        Hi Kim,
        Thanks for your kind comments! Call me an idealist, but I believe it’s a question of “when” – not “if”!
        :-)

    • http://2cents.davidwarlick.com David Warlick

      I agree, Heidi. You did a fabulous job with the video.

  • Glen Westbroek

    David, Thanks for the link from Twitter!

    When I consider technology in my Middle School Science classroom, I want it to appear “invisible.” Not that technology does not exist, rather that it is infused into the classroom lesson in such a manner as to not be noticed. I try to make the technology usage “just another pedagogy” used in daily instruction. The result of all instruction for our students needs to be the ability to think critically, evaluate and make informed decisions, use technology appropriately, and become welcome additions to the global community.

    In my experiences, when I have been observed, the highest compliment I can get has been “how everything just flowed” or “the kids seemed engaged.” Usually, it is followed up with a question regarding the specific piece of technology used and how/why I used it in the lesson. A few times, the principal has invited me to share my ideas with the faculty – but usually they ask me because the kids tell them about what they are doing “in science.”

  • http://www.artjunction.org/blog craig

    Great question, David. For me, I’ve always thought of the tools and materials that I work with as an art educator as means to get at something else, whether it be understanding, expressing, communicating, creating, interpreting, or so on. Whether we’re talking about a pencil, a paint brush, a reproduction, a camera, or a computer, it doesn’t matter. I’ve always felt that whatever technologies are brought to bear on the educational process, students must learn to use the tools they have available to think, to imagine, to create, to play with ideas, to explore, to interpret, to understand, and to feel what it means to be human. So, for me, these processes are the “it” in the question “What is it about?” -Craig

  • http://www.boldleaps.net Shirley Smith

    “It’s not about the technology” is also my mantra–mainly because most of the educators I work with are still in either the disconnected or novice stages of technology use. While helping them get past their fears of “breaking it” as well as how to address all the challenges they face in the classroom such as lack of resources and support, it is important to keep reminding them it’s not about the technology. It’s usually a hard sell when they are learning new skills, changing old habits, while also re-thinking pedagogy all at the same time. But the struggles are worth it when there is an aha moment, the moment they get it, when they “cross over” into the integration or early majority level, when they realize for themselves it is not about the technology. For some, that aha moment comes early, for some it takes a while. (And dare I say it?-for some it never will.) It is a wonderful thing when they become self directed enough to realize it is about the students–meeting their needs, addressing how they learn, recognizing they learn differently these days, and having the willingness to risk new ways of learning themselves. Isn’t that why we keep doing what we are doing?

  • http://www.boldleaps.net Shirley Smith

    So it is about the students–but its also about the mindset and the willingness to try new ways of learning ourselves to better understand our craft.

  • http://2cents.davidwarlick.com Dave

    I’ve just read an interesting article in EdWeek, written by James Paul Gee and Michael H. Levine, and realized that it plays pretty well into this conversation.  The article, Innovation Strategies for Learning in a Global Age, seeks to explain, within the context of today’s information environment, the persistent achievement gap that exists in the United States. 

    While national policies such as Reading First have strongly emphasized the need to learn such key reading skills as decoding and phonemic awareness in the early grades, the well-known phenomenon of the “4th grade slump” remains a critical challenge. Far too many students who appear to be learning to read well in the early grades hit a wall and fall behind by the 4th grade.

    Gee and Levine continue that…

    The most important cause of the slump is a lack of comprehension of increasingly complex language. As school progresses, the language of learning becomes more and more abstract and specialized, and less and less like everyday conversational language.

    The causes for a gap that falls pretty predictably along income lines are also predictable.  It is a lack of dialog, in many homes, that demands increasingly complex vocabulary within a meaningful context.  The authors then suggest that,

    Video games, simulations, modeling tools, hand-held devices, and media production tools can allow students to see how complex language and other symbol systems attach to the world. Because digital media easily, perhaps uniquely, can combine action in relationship with environment, this technology can generate situated meaning—vocabulary used in actual situations, which makes meanings clear and easier to remember—in many settings. Thus digital media have the potential to increase “book” vocabulary, and the concepts attached to such words, for children whose families are unable to do so.

    It is a position that Gee has promoted before, that language, when linked to action, is better learned — and this is a huge part of what video gaming is about.  Communication also provokes deeper and more complex conversations when students have at their disposal a rich and varied set of media, information raw materials, and tools for shaping it into a compelling message.  Goals and consequences must be considered, judgments and decisions made, and multidimensional tools navigated.

    So it’s not about the technology! 

    It’s about connections and conversations…

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  • http://carlanderson.blogspot.com Carl Anderson

    I have to disagree with this statement. It really is about the technology. But, we have to define the term before we can have an intelligent conversation about it. What is technology? When a nation claims to have the technology to build a WMD I don’t think they are speaking strictly of the hardware. At the fundamental level technology is understanding. More specifically, technology is understanding of how to manipulate our environment. The wheel is a technology, written language is a technology, applied math is a technology, and the computer is a technology. If it is not about technology then what is it about? To me, to say it is not about technology means it is not about understanding or it is about understanding something other than what we can learn about our physical world. To critically examine the world without technology leaves us with only our emotions. While I do feel there is a place in education for emotion much of what we try to teach kids requires at least a suspension of emotion so that we can have critical reflection on matters. As far as we know, technology has always changed or evolved for as long as we have been a species. Technology becomes our medium for interacting with the world around us and that includes communication. Today we are seeing a rapid change in technology for communication. If we do not keep up we will soon loose our voices and perhaps our ears. While the content conveyed by technology, whether it be digital or analog, is what we should focus most of our attention on that content is usually referential to technology itself either by direct means or as a result of being impacted by technology (be it a new or old technology).

    So, it’s not about the technology?

    • http://2cents.davidwarlick.com David Warlick

      I disagree with you Carl. At the same time, what you say is a critical part of this conversation. It is absolutely true that technology and understanding are linked. However, if it is about the technology, then it becomes too easy to teach the technology and leave the understanding out.

      You mention math as a technology. I too three courses in my graduate work on statistics. In each of those courses, they taught us how to perform the calculations on paper. However, we spent almost no time on how to apply the conclusions to real world understanding. We were taught the math.

      I get your point that the understanding is about the technology, but when the technology is new, as computers and the Internet are to many of us, then the understanding part is not intuitively gotten.

      Hmmm! It’s one of the reasons I ask teachers to pay a lot of attention to their students. They get it, because they’ve grown up with it.

      Thanks, Carl!

      • http://carlanderson.blogspot.com Carl Anderson

        How then do you define technology? How are technology and understanding different from one another? We can’t say that technology is a term we limit to tools because in our vernacular we often use it to describe an understanding. Therefore, if it is about the understanding it must then also be about the technology.

  • http://mcglaysia.wordpress.com Michael McGlade

    It is a mantra I use myself, but a deceptive one. The kernel of truth in it is that it is not about Technology on its own. 21st Century skills are Math skills, Language skills, Science skills, etc. that involve the use of technology tools. It is about the technology because effective communication today can not be done without technology. It is about the technology because one can not be a scientist today without using technology tools. They should no longer be viewed as separate technology tools. They are Math tools, Language tools, etc. They are technology, but seen in isolation, they are irrelevant. Put to the use of learning, important, useful, relevant learning, they are essential.

  • http://carlanderson.blogspot.com Carl Anderson

    It’s not about the technology? First, I think we need to define the term. What is technology? When a nation says they have the technology to produce a WMD I don’t think they are talking about the hardware. Technology is understanding. More specifically, technology is understanding of how to manipulate the world around us. Technology is involved in almost everything we do. Divorce technology from the equation you are left with emotion and flesh. The wheel is a technology, language is a technology, the printing press is a technology, so is the computer. Is there a way to communicate without technology? I suppose we could go around hitting people we disagree with and hugging those we like. How can a school function without technology being at its core what its purpose is? If technology is understanding then we have to invest in it and take changes in technology seriously. For as long as we know technology has evolved within our species. We go through times when technologies that effect certain aspects of our existence change at rapid paces. Today we are seeing this rapid technology change in the area of communications. If we don’t keep up we risk loosing our voices or even our ears. We are supposed to be preparing people to thrive in a world where communication skills are vital and the nature of communication is evolving. It has to be about the technology. Even when we focus on content, which we ought to be doing most of the time, we are effected by technology. There is almost no academic content divorced of some form of technology. All of our academic content either explains, progresses, responds, or utilizes technology in all subject areas. Now, it doesn’t always have to be about new technologies. No, it can be about old technologies but it is still about ultimately about understanding how the world around us is manipulated or has been manipulated.

    Math=technology architecture
    Science=explains the technology
    Language=Utilizes the Technology
    History=Record of how the world has been manipulated
    Arts=utilizes technology for expression and reflection

  • http://educationalillusions.blogspot.com Jeremy Mellon

    There is no doubt that technology has consumed everything in the 21st century. Imagine your daily life without technology. No alarm clock, no coffee maker, no car, all of that and you haven’t even arrived at work yet.
    With all of that being said, it is about technology in the classroom.
    It’s about relationships you build with your students, it’s about engagement, and it’s about interaction. One of my AP Bio students was discussing molecular structure yesterday but was unable to adjust the height of her chair. It makes me wonder are some of things that were teaching children necessary or should our focus shift? More of my educational thoughts as a teacher can be found at http://educationillusions.blogspot.com/

  • http://cstl-coe.semo.edu/talbut Mary Harriet Talbut

    I have said this to my pre-service teachers since the first day of class. Technology is a tool you can use to go to where the students are. A boring worksheet is still a boring worksheet even if it is put on a computer. If you are not using technology to enhance education, then why are you using it? Maybe you need to use technology differently or for some lessons, not at all. But always asking the question, echoing what others have said, it is about the conversations and connections surrounding the best use of technology.

    • http://2cents.davidwarlick.com David Warlick

      Very well said. I would like to insert one comment though. I am not satisfied with the phrase, “to go to where the students are.” I hear teachers often say that they integrate technology because kids like technology — and I don’t agree with this. First of all, it’s not technology to the kids. It’s connections and conversations. It’s communication and information.

      I grew up with playmates in the neighborhood and an audience of one for my writing. My children’s playmates are from around the world, and their writing has a potential audience in the millions.

      If we think that the kids like technology, then it’s going to be about the technology.

  • Pierre

    It is about creating students that are able to function in an ever changing world. It is about creating a child that is able to think, write, read, evaluate, communicate, and create through the use of technology. Technology is merely the vehicle, but the driver has to be able navigate the road effectively. You can teach the basic function of the technology, but then what? Students have to understand technology is more than the machinery. It is the person operating and manipulating the machinery that produces great work. Technology facilitates the creative process, but it is not the process.

  • http://tracevidence.edublogs.org/ T Gidinski

    I agree with Karen – it’s about the students and their ability to communicate with one another. I also believe technology should be a tool. I have a hard time labeling my class’s computer time as “computers,” which I do to let the kids know where we’re going, when really it depends on what subject matter we’re doing in the computer lab at the time. It might be Language Arts, or Math, or Social Studies, or Science, or French, or…

  • http://bloggingonthebay.org Bill Gaskins

    I too wish it were just about technology. I think this will change with the “Digital Natives”. For them it will be about the right tool to get the job done and the job will drive the technology. We would like literacy lead the technology, but over time it will.

    Most teachers just don’t get it and they see it is about the technology.I think the big change has to start with higher ed in preparing our new teachers so they leave universities teaching like they did in the industrial world.

    Bill

  • Carla Chaffin

    It isn’t about the technology. It is about teaching our students how to solve problems, how to think for themselves or to work cooperatively when they need help. Technology is the tool to help us achieve these goals. Technology provides the resources and information to help us make decisions. We need to be able to sort and validate the information we find. Technology is an amazing tool but technology without a purpose is just a computer sitting in a classroom or a book sitting on a shelf.

  • http://galaxylearning.blogspot.com/ Cynthia Kiefer

    In my role as a teacher, technology is about inquiry, engagement, cognitive and social development, and practicing in a particular discipline. (The latter is the classic difference between learning *about* “doing English” and actually “doing English.”) When I design instruction for my English (and Psychology) classes, I want my students to experience different access points to the learning and to think about that learning critically. Some of these methodologies are traditional – mostly to create a cognitive schema/baseline for the learning – including note-taking, reading, discussion, and lecturing, while others are intended for collaborative learning that builds on those schemas. However, lately I have found that my own use of technology has completely shifted the way I think about collaborative learning. I no longer want to use the term “group work” because it is inadequate to describe the way my students interact and construct knowledge. The availability and use of the web for productivity, communication, and research as well as the shift from designing all classwork for students to “do on their own” to collaborative learning activities is a major paradigm (sorry, I can’t think of a better word!) shift. While I do consider the technology hardware, software, and connectivity available to me when designing instruction, I find myself leaning more and more toward a collaborative pedagogy that is introduced earlier in the lesson/unit and that can be facilitated with our without the actual technology. Finally, while “Digital literacy” did not exist as a term when I started teaching 20+ years ago, it is essential to integrate those critical skills and concepts beyond the research paper into the curriculum beyond our research and persuasion units – and in fact, across the disciplines, much as we have done with reading and writing. Integrating the use of technology into our curriculum and our methodological strategies is one way for teachers to provide opportunities for students to develop critical thinking and social literacy skills that are necessary in our digital world.

    • http://2cents.davidwarlick.com David Warlick

      Cynthia,

      I am intrigued by your sentence, “…lately I have found that my own use of technology has completely shifted the way I think about collaborative learning. I no longer want to use the term “group work” because it is inadequate to describe the way my students interact and construct knowledge.”

      Then you go on and talk about collaboration. I am curious, what is the difference between “group work” and collaborative pedagogies? I feel like there is something important here that I want to learn.

  • http://mysite.cherokee.k12.ga.us/personal/anita_geoghagan/site/default.aspx Anita Geoghagan

    Too often, the technology integration found in classrooms is too much about the ‘Hey, kids. Look at what I did’, turning the lesson into just another form of entertainment for students already on digital overload. Many well-meaning teachers unwittingly fall into this trap when beginning to integrate technology into their classrooms, thinking they are doing a good thing. You should not ‘do technology’. Instead, you should use the available technology as another tool, especially useful when the concept is one that is difficult to illustrate or convey without the added technology. We have to integrate technology wisely, making sure it is being used in an educationally sound way and is being used to facilitate the learning and the understanding of the curriculum. It is also imperative that the technology be placed in the hands of the students, not just the teacher.

  • http://educatingeducators.blogspot.com Charlene Chausis

    “It’s not about the technology. It is about the use of technology to enable powerful new forms of learning. New forms of learning require significant changes in our beliefs about the nature of teaching and learning — both student learning and our own professional development.”

    This is a favorite quote of mine from the “Professional Competency Continuum: Professional Skills for the Digital Age Classroom,” by Edward Coughlin & Cheryl Lemke (p. 43). This document was published in June of 1999, and outlines the various stages that educators go through as the begin to use technology as a catalyst for change. The document provides a “snapshop of three stages of progress” — Entry, Adaptation and Transformation (p. 13).

    Dave, you’ve presented numerous times on the “Telling the New Story.” Do you think educators are making progress? How many can truly say they are at the “Transformation” stage, and are providing new learning opportunities that were not previously available without the tools that technology has provided?

    Download the document from the Milken Family Foundation website: http://www.mff.org/publications/publications.taf?page=159
    :-)

    • http://2cents.davidwarlick.com David Warlick

      Charlene,

      I am seeing amazing progress now, and it is accellerating. However, it is nowhere near a majority and we haven’t approached the tipping point yet. But from the traveling I’ve been doing, I am optimistic and the momentum is building.

  • http://westendcreative.blogspot.com/ Daniel Ferreira

    Learning processes are not about any specific technology, just as transportation is not about any specific automobile. What this is about is that the user of the technology or automobile be conveyed appropriately to the goal.

    A source of the confusion may lie in the aspect that technology is not just a tool, it is a content domain on its own.

    Inside the metaphor of transport, there could be rich environments for exploration, such as car collecting, repair or decoration. However, the student is primarily faced with a task that is transportation. He or she may consider airplanes, trains or boats, as well as automobiles.

    In certain socioeconomic segments, perhaps we walk while watching cars pass.

    What must be extracted from this example is the primacy of the goal, which could be getting to the church on time, or to Grandma’s house before the wolf. Whatever means available will probably serve our needs in this realm.

    Educators are rigorous in that conveyance to the goal will most likely not be via haphazard means, as transport might be. In both systems, primacy of the goal remains.

    Without any question, a tool could never be congruent to or equal to the task itself. Accordingly, this task cannot be about technology, except in the specific instances when technology is the matter to be taught.

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  • http://www.sylvan.k12.ca.us John Patten

    It’s simply about the story. Learning and communication is about telling the story. What better tool is there to tell the story? Why complicate things? Story telling is something everyone understands.

  • Nadine Salahub

    The technology is a tool. It can enhance and aid the learning of our students, but our students need much much more. After all, as you pointed out, there is so much out there we couldn’t envision when we began our careers. Imagine the changes our students will see! We educators should be helping them to develop their skills as thinkers and reasoners. I am also concerned about what technology is doing to our society. I have noticed that many students have difficulty relating to each other and this may be because they are used to one-way communication. It is the art and science of the teacher who can lead these students to develop the skills they will need in our increasingly complex and changing world.

  • Corbin

    I agree somewhat. It is not all about the technology, but without it would you have missed one student? If you gained the interest of just one student because you used technology it is/was all about the technology.

    With that said, there is an enormous amount of artistry in education that needs to not be forgotten. A great instructor will reach the depths of a students soul, and show them things they may have never seen before. A great instructor will create a place where learning will go to greater places than imagined. A piece of equipment will never take the place of a great instructor.

  • Sharla LaBelle

    I’m struggling with the definite “It’s Not About The Technology” because I do believe that it IS about how the teacher uses the tehnology to differentiate instruction, engage students who may otherwise be passive or disengaged, and make learning relevant for all learners. In the 21st Century, it is a given that our students need to be prepared to be part of the new global world, and they need to know how to use the tools appropriately. I believe it is our job as teachers to model that use in our classrooms — so in a way, it is about the technology.

  • Lori Mora

    A room could be filled with many amazing computers, scanners, interactive boards and projectors, however, without teaching and instruction, learning is not guaranteed. Technology must be a tool that assists the learning and makes opportunities open for adults and children alike. It needs to become a tool of learning not the learning itself. I recall a learning experience I had when technology first became a part of my classroom. I did amazing lessons with my 6th grade students using Hyperstudio. We spent weeks in the lab creating great slide shows about the life cycle of a star. The students used graphics, bells, whistles and sounds. Anyone walking into the room would have thought it was the most amazing experience of learning to be had. Then I gave the assessment on the stages of a star’s life. The average score was 63%. I had failed to teach the concept. The technology-we had mastered, the concept we did not. It’s not about the technology…..

  • Alison Keene

    I believe learning for today’s students is about using whatever tools we have available to us to help fully engage our students. They need to understand the education is all about learning and making the most of whatever resources they have to be able to transfer their knowledge.

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  • http://avenue4learning.com Michelle Baldwin

    It’s about the LEARNING. Technology can be a tool to use in learning. In the late 1800s, the ink pen was new technology. Think how it changed learning. Additionally- making your own ink was no longer a skill necessary for success. How many things do we continue to teach in schools because “kids should know” about them.

    If we focus on the tool, we lose the learning. If we focus on the answers, we lose the questions. It has to be about the learning first, and I advocate for the technology tools we use… technology can facilitate engagement, problem-solving, creativity, and critical-thinking.

  • http://school20.siglersite.com James Sigler

    What a great discussion about a fundamental ed tech question! Great comments. Keep it up!

  • Diane Main

    It’s about the skills and knowing when to use them. It’s about being a productive member of society who is also secure in his or her knowledge of self.

    My son will be five in January. He’s showing major signs of being left-handed, though he won’t fully commit. That could explain his partial lack of motor skills for some tasks his peers can do much more easily than he can. Admittedly, he’s the youngest in his Transitional Kindergarten class, but only by a few days. (All the kids in there have September – January birthdays.) My son could not use scissors when school started last month. Even now, he can cut (much better!) if someone else holds the paper for him. I think his rapid improvement is a combination of patient adults (so, NOT my husband and myself) spending the time practicing with him and the spring-loaded scissors his teachers found for him on the Internet.

    So, was it about the technology? No. But these clever teachers found a tool that would enable my son to begin mastering the skill. Unless he grows up to be a dressmaker/tailor, this skill isn’t going to be crucial forever. But when you’re four and overcoming fine and gross motor skill lags, it’s a big deal.

    Stuff like this is happening in classrooms around the country every day. The kids have the tools. We want them to use the correctly and responsibly. But more important, we want them to be confident in themselves and their abilities. And they need to be able to get and keep jobs in the future. So being a Luddite probably won’t work out well for them.

  • http://nnorris.edublogs.org NadineN

    It is not all about the technology…it’s about the instructional strategies that offer our students opportunities to use creativity, problem solving, collaboration, and decision making. However, the frustration lies when trying to support those who, even almost 10 years into the 21st century, it is about the technology. Some teachers are still trying to master the use of technology for their own uses, and it’s the technology itself that keeps them from engaging in the amazing possibilities.

  • iDavo

    For me, technology is a tool for learning; a resource. Yes, it’s a powerful tool, but a tool none the less. In the science classroom is all learning about the bunsen burner? In art, is it all about the brush and paint? In english it’s not just about the pen or the novel. Education is about learning! If technology is not about the learning then it doesn’t belong in education.

    The next important thing is that giving students technology will not automatically improve learning. Too often students are given access to technology and the assumption is that they know what they are doing and will automatically learn more. They need to be taught how to use tools to improve their learning.

    In many subjects, we give out textbooks. Do we leave students to read them during lessons and ask ask questions at the end of the topic? If we give a child a musical instrument and a piece of sheet music, does that make them a musician? No, of course not. We use the textbook and the instrument to support our classroom teaching.

    Is it about the technology?….. yes, but it’s not JUST about the technology. It all about the LEARNING!

  • Jim D

    I can’t remember who said it, but this little ditty has stuck with me: “It’s not about the tech, it’s about the TEACH.”

    • http://2cents.davidwarlick.com David Warlick

      Yeah! You just add one “A”, the “art,” and you have teach.

  • JenW

    Smiles
    @JimD

    I kinda said it on November 17, 2007.
    http://jenuinetech.com/blog/?p=106

    Jen

  • http://carlanderson.blogspot.com Carl Anderson

    Earlier in this discussion I posted that I felt it was about the technology (defining technology broadly to mean understanding rather than tool) because if you divorce technology from anything you are left with just flesh and emotion. I posted this comment in partly in jest but after thinking about it for a couple of weeks I think the root of this discussion lies there. Strip us down to our least common denominator and what are you left with? You are left with life forms with needs have to be fulfilled (food, protection, stimulation, and reproduction). These needs become our motivation. All wants and desires are derived from these needs and thus are also sources of motivation. Our species is clever. We have the ability to understand methods of manipulating our environment. We have learned how to build tools, invent language, and organize socially to meet these needs and wants. At the same time, we are not a species happy with just meeting our basic wants and needs. There is something wired into each one of us that invents new wants and needs as soon as the old ones were met. We are and will always be miscontent. Therefore, we constantly invent new technologies to acquire new desires. It is not about the technology, it is not about the learning, it is not about the content, it is about the motivation.

  • Vanessa

    Its about engaging, connecting, and communicating with kids on their level!!!!

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  • http://nashworld.edublogs.org Sean Nash

    My *definition of learning 2.0 in 140 characters or less* =>

    “the actualization and realization that your work will weave fibers within a global tapestry of rapidly expanding knowledge”

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  • Heather OLeary

    Professional development has been consumed with incorporating technology into our lessons as a main objective. People are getting confused about what is important to teach and focus on. Technology is a tool to make life easier. I model the use to technology in my classroom every day with every lesson. I am a music teacher, my objectives still focus on the elements of music. There are great technological resources available to compliment my music lessons, but by no means are those resources the main focus of the lesson. Using technology in the classroom should come with ease.

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