Educational Technology Is Not About Technology
I’m a technology guy first and a teacher second. At least I used to be. I have a B.S. in Computer Science and 12 years as software developer so technology has been my life for many years. But the last 8 years of teaching and parenting has changed my philosophy about technology. Building desktop computers, upgrading software, writing code, playing video games, and complaining about users dominated much of my earlier career. I was so immersed in the technical side of the field that I didn’t realize my job would not exist without users.
Now that I’m a teacher and converted Apple fan, I live on every iRumor that appears on my radar. My house is dominated by Apple products: phones, tablets, laptops, etc. I crave every new product they create. But as a technology educator, I have think differently. While it would wonderful to provide iPads for every student in our school, you can’t just drop them off in a kindergarten class, say “good luck”, and expect them to automatically learn calculus. The technology is simply a tool. My technology director is fond of calling it the modern day pencil. Technology in education is transformational and amazing but it’s still just a tool. An iPhone in the hands of blind student is useless unless it’s used to enhance the learning of that student. Otherwise, it’s a overpriced paperweight. We should never start with the technology in mind and then think about how the students should use it. It should be the other way around. Start with the student and mold the technology to help the student.
In other words, educational technology is not about technology. It’s about the student. And it always will be. Let’s never forget that.