While it is true that there is an app for just about anything, that does not mean that it is a valuable and authentic replacement for other methods of achieving a specific goal. This is why I am a strong advocate of the philosophical approach that,
Technology is a Tool, and so is a Hammer!
The problem is that sometimes we use the wrong tool at the wrong time and justify it because we are using Technology!
I would like to preface the following with how inspired I get when I see teachers who have been in the profession for 20+ years tell me they want to use iPads in their class and they are serious about not only integrating the computer and tablet technology into their current curriculum but even to use it to create new ways to teach their students. It's unbelievable and really is something to reflect on as an educator who grew up with computer technology and doesn't know what life is like not using it.
One of the main challenges in integrating technology not just into education but life is general, is when individuals misunderstand what "technology" really is. Technology is not an iPad, or an app or even something battery powered.
Technology is making or modifying an object, in order to solve a problem, improve an existing solution and achieve a goal.
This means that a pencil is technology, and so is the printing press, and so is instant coffee, and thank God for the latter! Technology is when you are able to utilize tools and the advancement of these tools to achieve a better quality product with faster results.
While it is important to utilize all means possible to solve a problem or challenge, it is easier than ever to force a solution for the sake of using technology. Technology is supposed to give a user a better end-product in a more productive and effective manner. If it takes you twice as long to do something, even if the results surpass the quality of another method, the individual should honestly reevaluate whether this longer process is the best option or if it was done for the sake of Glorified Technology. A good example of this concept can be explained through the
Now, the first step is to acknowledge the problem or the challenge. In this case, I have two pieces of wood that I really want to attach together, and I need it done fast and as cheap as possible. I have decided that a thin small metal rod aka a nail would be the best method to secure the two pieces of wood together. The question is how do I complete this task? Anytime an individual attempts to solve a problem, the diagram below should be put into consideration.
In the ideal world, all three circles overlap. The outcome of the center of the venn diagram, should be top quality, low cost, and with a fast turn around. Unfortunately we live in reality where that central area does not exist. This means that
The cost involved in technology must be justified through the quality and time invested in its use.
This is simple with the above analogy because everyone can agree that using a rock to hammer in nails is cheap but gives you a time consuming and low quality result. The modern hammer is a huge leap in the right direction in that cost is still minimal, quality is greatly enhanced, yet time is still needed to get the job done . The more nails needed to hammer, the greater the time needed to finish the job. That is where the Bostitch Nail Gun gets the quality job done fast, but with a price. The cost is justified by the precision and speed in which an individual is able to accomplish the task.
Cost = Success
The problem with Technology today, is that many users think that Cost = Success, in that if they invest the money, the best product is guaranteed. This is unfortunately FALSE, as you can find cheaper paper notebooks than $400 and cheaper whiteboard than $5,000 as we see many users using iPads and Smartboards as glorified technology that simply substitutes previous tools. When I read that Los Angeles Unified School District was putting an iPad into the hands of every student and teacher, I wondered how much of that $30 Million would go towards professional development? Why is an iPad any different than a robotic arm at an automobile assembly plant? A technician at an automobile plant is not permitted to operate such a machine without extensive training to make sure that they can safety operate the machine not only for themselves, but around others as well. Why is a teacher with an iPad any different? While, thank God, the iPad when used improperly is not able to sever a student's limb, technology in a classroom used superficially is very destructive.
Image courtesy of: tecong-cn.com
Authentic Technology Integration
The above seems to be clear in the educational community because conferences such as #ISTE13 had dozens of presenters showing how they effectively and appropriately utilize technology in the classroom. The SAMAR Model is an amazing model of taking current projects and lessons and enhancing them through technology integration. Here is a great article in Understanding the SAMR Model in 120 seconds by Med Kharbach.
The Power of Technology
Technology can be powerful, beautiful, inspiring, but it can also be destructive, revolting, and depressing. We have to be certain that we are using technology to benefit ourselves and humanity, and not just as an infatuation to let us shed our responsibility to work hard. If a process becomes instant through technology then it is our responsibility to utilize the time we would have spent to instead be innovative, creative, and thoughtful.