One thing that I believe in deeply in my work is that we should always focus on relationships and learning, before technology, and if technology can’t enhance those things, it is a very tough “sell” to educators. The focus, although on relationships and learning first, is also on the use of technology. They are not separate.
Yet I have seen people say that it’s not about “technology”, it’s about “pedagogy”. In fact, I had this conversation with Brian Aspinall on Twitter recently which sparked this thought. This statement could easily be taken as separating the two ideas of “pedagogy” and “technology”, and can sometimes provide an easy “out” for many educators who see the use of technology as irrelevant in their classrooms. If it about “pedagogy” and NOT “technology”, then why would I ever have to use it? I will have to be honest; there are a lot of classrooms that I walk into that have very little use of technology with students in their learning, other than the occasional visit to the computer lab. Sometimes when the statement is made, “it is not about technology, it is about pedagogy”, you then hear the roars of approval, and off we go on our merry way with nothing changing for many students.
In reality sometimes it is about the technology, and the opportunities that it provides that were not there before for a student. For example, teaching students how to code is something that is really hard to do without the technology, yet this is not happening with the masses in schools, and it would be extremely hard to learn it in an effective manner with 40 minutes a week in a computer lab. Is it happening in some classrooms? Absolutely. Is it happening more every day? Absolutely. Is it happening enough? I am not sure it is.
I have been reluctant to say things like “technology is just a tool”, because again, the statement often provides an out. If you do not see it as transformative, then why use it? A video that I have shown to show how technology is more than a tool and can be “transformational”, is this video of this young boy getting his first hearing aid. You can literally see the second the boy’s life changes:
When you look at Lachlan in that video, you can see that as soon as he has the “hearing aid”, a light goes on in his eyes. I will have to admit, that there are a lot of students in school who have lost that light. This is no different from when I was in school, but there are more ways to create that “light” in the eyes of kids because of the use of technology in some cases. It is about what they need, not what we are comfortable with.
So yes, it is about the learning, but it is also about the technology and the opportunities that it provides us. They are no longer separate.