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Technology is a Tool, NOT a Learning Outcome.

Last weekend, I whipped up a hand-drawn image on the role that technology should play in teaching and learning spaces.  Over the last five days, it's been viewed over 4,000 times on Flickr and shared/favorited/retweeted over 500 times on Twitter.

Thought you might want to see it too:

The motivation behind the image was to remind teachers that carefully thinking through just what we want our kids to know and be able to do is the FIRST step that we need to take when making choices about the role that technology plays in our teaching.

Sometimes I think we get blinded by the digital shine that comes off of new gadgets, tools and services.  Worse yet, I'm convinced that far too many educators have bought into the mistaken notion that TECHNOLOGY motivates kids.

That just isn't true, y'all:  Kids AREN'T motivated by technology.  

Instead, they're motivated by opportunities to make a difference in the world; they are motivated by opportunities to ask and answer their own questions; and they are motivated by opportunities to learn together with like-minded peers.

Digital tools CAN make all of that work possible -- but until we start seeing technology as nothing MORE than a tool, we'll keep wasting time and cash on products that do nothing to change learning in meaningful ways for our kids.

#nuffsaid

_________________________

Related Radical Reads:

Are Kids REALLY Motivated by Technology?

Classroom Technology and the Motivational Herring

What DO We Want Kids to Know and Be Able to Do?

Two Important Reminders for Digital Leaders

Change Depends on MORE Than Shiny iGadgets

 

9 Comments

Dane commented on July 13, 2013 at 9:30pm:

Tech is a tool.....

I appreciate your comments on how tech should lead to understanding. I see the list as more as beginnings on the left side and the finality of learning on the other. Learning about tech is important to understand how to use the tool. Contrastly the uthe entire workings of a internal combustion engine every time you drive your car is not possible to everyone with a driver's license, but the end result for all is accomplished.

I pose a simple question...if the kids already know this tech stuff, why are we trying to teach it? Is it for our benefit of understanding? Or is it the perennial generation gap that happens throughout time, and educational ways being the last thing funded, is trying to catch up?

Patrick commented on July 16, 2013 at 11:14am:

Know how to use the wrench!

Great conversation. We think kids know how to use the tools because they can operate the smart phone. It's important to remember that knowing the correct tool for the job and how to use it properly are equally important. Sometimes no tech tool is needed. Everyone can drive a nail with a stapler or cut a board with a butter knife - but it doesn't make it right. The outcomes are similar but not necessarily the desired outcome we hope for. 

Bryan Pechtl commented on July 17, 2013 at 4:36pm:

Social Studies

I certainly agree at tech use has as to be tempered in a classroom, but we cannot avoid it. iPads are wonderfully shiny, but without proper training and resources, we will continue to struggle.  We did a 1:1 iPad program, and it was a struggle.  I decided to write an iBook that included 25 social studies lesson plans to help other teachers use iMovie on iPad in the classroom (search on iTunes using my last name, Pechtl, it'll come up).  We're still on the cusp of the tech revolution in the classroom, and I don't think we have a good understanding of how/why we need to be using it everywhere and that it's going to take some time to sort it out.

Danr commented on January 21, 2014 at 10:05am:

STEM

Though i agree that people can get lost in using technology instead of teaching certain lessons, I have to disagree with your list.  Particularly with your classification of RIGHT and WRONG.  Many of the items on the WRONG side can and are ends in and of themselves.  I teach 6th and 7th grade STEM.  My students use scratch.mit.edu to make their own video games.  They use process modeller to make flow charts to organize their game play.  Both flow charting and programming are the skills that I want them to walk away from this unit knowing.  They are motivated to make a game for their friends to play, to finally take control after years of playing games that other people wrote.  They make simple games, true, but this introduction to programming gives them a glimpse into the career of computer programming.  My afterschool STEM club students are making claymation videos.  That is the goal.  Once they have the skills, they might want to go on and tell a more complex story with it, but the inital goal is to make a video and that goal is motivating them.

FILMS commented on February 13, 2014 at 10:58am:

Wrong Might be Right

Looking at the columns of wrong and right, I believe some additional thought is required concerning these classifications.

For instance, "Produce Videos" should be a right answer.  After teaching a video class for fifteen years, the amount to high order thinking skills required to produce a video is impressive.  I want my students to be able to utilize their brain and create.  The process takes the students on a journey from preparation to script to storyboard to scouting locations to filming to acting to edits and then proudly presenting the project.

EVERY ITEM in your "right" column can be accomplished with this one project while going well beyond regular classroom levels.  This concept hits the students in a zone where they care and want to learn.  It is interesting and engaging.  It can be transformational.  

Tanya LeClair commented on March 12, 2015 at 6:34am:

I agree, but.....

Firstly, I feel like the analogy that Delonna made about having a wrench and finding something to tighten really hits home about your point. I think that technology IS a pathway/tool to communicate or get to greater understanding about a subject. BUT I also think that the programs and tools themselves need to be introduced with earlier ages and worked on as a part of that initial learning in order for them to be used properly. Hell....even adults need instruction into how to use some of those programs. I'm in the COETAIL program and I certainly needed to have my skills sorted out before I went ahead to write my first blogpost. Also, as others have said above, some of the more technological programs that are used in video production etc. are complex and require skill to master. I don't think it's so black and white when it comes to what students should learn and learn with, but rather that we are thoughtful when we teach and think of those things in the right column so kids have fun with the programs but are also aware of their place in the larger picture of learning.

Tanya LeClair commented on March 12, 2015 at 6:35am:

I agree, but.....

Firstly, I feel like the analogy that Delonna made about having a wrench and finding something to tighten really hits home about your point. I think that technology IS a pathway/tool to communicate or get to greater understanding about a subject. BUT I also think that the programs and tools themselves need to be introduced with earlier ages and worked on as a part of that initial learning in order for them to be used properly. Hell....even adults need instruction into how to use some of those programs. I'm in the COETAIL program and I certainly needed to have my skills sorted out before I went ahead to write my first blogpost. Also, as others have said above, some of the more technological programs that are used in video production etc. are complex and require skill to master. I don't think it's so black and white when it comes to what students should learn and learn with, but rather that we are thoughtful when we teach and think of those things in the right column so kids have fun with the programs but are also aware of their place in the larger picture of learning.

Stacey Monette commented on March 15, 2015 at 10:56pm:

Image Rights?

Hi Bill,

I really like your image "What do you want Kids to do with Technology?"

I orginally saw it on Twitter. I was wondering what the permissions are on your image.  I would like to share it in a chapter that I am writing for a free book that my Masters class is creating. Is this a possiblity.  I noticed that your website has all right reserved.

Thanks for considering,

Stacey Monette

 

Wilson King commented on August 20, 2016 at 9:30am:

So true

So true that often we do get blinded by the digital shine that comes off of new gadgets. You are right that kids aren't motivated by technology and science instead they are highly motivated by opportunities to make a difference in the world.

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