Good Read: Technology Is a Tool, Not a Learning Outcome

| July 12, 2013 | 9 Comments
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Something about this very simple list struck a chord with many educators. Author Bill Ferriter explains: “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.”

Do you agree?

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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.

Read more at: www.teachingquality.org

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  • @educonomist

    The left hand column will work for each technology until its novelty wears off. The right hand column targets intrinsic motivation, giving staying power to both the tech. skills and the learning outcomes.

  • Robert Schuetz

    Hello Tina, I agree with the intrinsic value of meaningful learning experiences. I also think that Bill’s graphic is a terrific conversation starter for dissecting the purpose of schools, and the definition of education. Will Richardson instigated an interesting conversation on Twitter suggesting that “tool” is too constraining a term for what technology can provide with respects to learning. I agree – technology is substantially more than a tool, but I also agree with Bill’s assertion that technology should not be confused for a learning outcome. Amazing how something so simple can say so much!

  • Campbell Smythe

    Some of those Right answers are actually made possible by the Wrong Answers. Technology used well is an enabler. Learners can make a Prezi to Raise awareness to a wider audience than their paper chart on the classroom wall can. Posting to Edmodo in itself is nothing but the Post could be significant on a number levels. Lets not try to be too cool with the “Technology is only a Tool” slogan.

    • http://teacherleaders.typepad.com/the_tempered_radical plugusin

      But I think the core question, Campbell, is how often ARE the wrong answers being used to lead to the right answers in schools?

      In my experiences, there are a few teachers doing great things with digital tools and services and a TON of teachers who have their kids making Prezis because they think making Prezis turns their classrooms into 21st Century Learning Spaces.

      Until we start seeing what technology enables as the outcome that matters, our schools will remain unchanged.

      Does this make sense?
      Bill

      • Campbell Smythe

        Yes Bill I hear what you’re saying. It’s the negative impact that little charts like this cause that I’m against. They perpetuate the image of the perfect technology integrating teacher which is far away from most teachers. I believe most teachers see technology as a tool. They’re not the perfect teacher applying every 21st Century approach in the classroom, but they are having a go. If our topic was music, would we mock those teachers who weren’t fluent with music or integrating music into learning experiences to achieve ideal outcomes or would we encourage those who were trying despite their admitted lack of knowledge or ability? The best way to see what technology enables is to use it and observe. Schools have changed largely because of the bravery that many teachers have shown in introducing technology based activities into learning. Then they move toward the ideal…….

  • SD Motak

    I’ve starting talking about technology as a description of the environment in which we learn and have stopped talking about technology as a tool. There are too many overlapping “technologies” to relegate anything one thing to the status of a tool. In the same way that “air conditioning” is a technology that supports learning (albeit indirectly) as well as wireless access for learning devices in school settings, so also the combined use of many “tools”, i.e. technologies, creates a dynamic learning environment as opposed to separate tools for defined tasks. The educators who figure out how to operate in this type of setting will be ready to lead our students – our future educators – forward.

  • Jane Bozarth

    This is a wonderful summation and is hands-down the most popular thing I’ve ever posted on my Facebook pages. The items on the left are means; those on the right, the ends. Too many in my work world (workplace training practitioners and HR staff, as opposed to the teachers this picture addresses) are far too focused on the former rather than the latter. “Doing social media” is not a strategy.

  • Brittany Jones

    This is a great point! Over the years that I’ve worked at iD Tech, a summer tech program for students ages 7-17, I’ve noticed that our students really want to use what they learn to help others . It’s truly amazing to watch what these students are achieving with their tech skills, and I really believe their generation can change their world.

  • Doug Solomon

    I agree with Campbell The diagram is way too simplistic (but it obviously got us talking). Technology is a series of tools that form a platform upon which many changes can be initiated and built. Technology won’t teach children to improve the world, but it will amplify their efforts.