1. A timely post. I was recently bothered with the “technology is just a tool” comment as I see technology as transformational. True, it hasn’t been very transformational in schools as it’s mostly used to continue practices that already exist.

    Your previous post gets at the fear that holds us back. The fear is from a lack of an innovator’s mindset, where as you say, “teachers need to have a deep understanding of learning before they can become effective in teaching.”

    Learners don’t fear technology or say, “I don’t know how to do that, full stop.” Learners say they are going to figure out how to do something, and use others and tools to get it done.

    Conflicting messages from students, administrators, curriculum departments, parents, educational researchers and social media voices seem to freeze many teachers. Whom should they listen to? Who will support or protest a change away from traditional practice? With so many expectations, it’s easiest to carry on with the negatives one knows.

    An innovative mindset would also go a long way in reducing the fear of ignorance, which looms large around technology.

    It’s not a tool if you don’t know how to use it effectively. Embrace learning.

  2. Technology is tool that is used in different ways by different people to do different things and depending on the person using it, the outcome can be beyond anything imagined. At the outset, I agree that we need to continue to cultivate an innovator mindset. It’s not new nor is it unique to our particular period in time – look at the innovations over time in an industry like agriculture. Innovation has always been a part of builds and spurs societies forward. We have changed the opportunties to innovate and changed the access which allows for anyone to innovate if they are so inclined. But it’s the people, not the tools. From personal experience of having a child with speech and learning disabilities, the story is with the person not the tools. It’s a lived experience over many years of growing, trying, failing and trying again, going beyond what anyone expected because of the incredible human spirit within a little girl that wouldn’t allow failure or setbacks to deter her. So, I get the message in the videos but it’s only a small piece of an incredible human story. It’s about the people and the continued desire to go on, the “never-give-up”. Yes, we need to foster an innovative mindset but it’s about the human element, not the tool. Unfortunately, if we only believe that teachers can be transformational now that they have tools, we’re selling short the tranformational power of great teachers of the past. Sometimes, when we say that technology allows us to be tranformational, we miss the incredible opportunity to see people as a whole with unlimited possibilities with or without the technology and enter transformational moments at any time. Great teachers see transformational moments and enter into those moments as learners with their students, technology aided or not. As a parent, there is so much that my children have taught me about entering into a moment and allowing it to transform all of us. Growing up on a farm, innovation was a part of life, trying to make things better and improve on what we were doing was part of farming. I understand how technology can aide in that, but it’s about the people and the willingness to see in new and different ways. We have technologies because they envisioned what others could not – progress through innovation and a willingness to suspend their disbelief. A young girl in our community raised thousands of dollars to build schools for other children – because of her desire to help, her desire to tranform the lives of others. She used technology to help her but it was her desire to help that was the movtivation. Just like the two boys who rebuilt 50 bikes in another community to send overseas or the girls who walked between two towns to raise money for mental health after their friend committed suicide. A desire to transform lives, to help, to make change. Kids have been doing inspiring things for a long time and inspiring others as they do. In order to do some of that, they will use the tools of their generation, the tools available to them, as it has always been.

  3. Carol Heidenrich, Ed.D.

    Your post resonates with what I discovered while researching technology use for learning. Students use technology in many ways to enhance their learning. It is natural to them. They do not think about the means, they just find a way to learn more about a topic. For students today, technology is not just a tool, it is a way of life. As a provider of technology professional development for teachers, I must support teachers and students in realizing the benefits of technology use for enhancing learning.

  4. Brian Curtin

    I couldn’t agree more with your sentiments. I’ve often used the phrase “technology is just a tool,”and yet I’ve never really believed it. I always found myself saying it so as to convince the skeptics that technology is not something that should be feared; rather, it is something that can transform the way students learn.

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