Technology has always played a role in the classroom. Sure, things like iPads and laptops are relatively new entrants. But consider what the word “technology” means.
According to Merriam-Webster.com, technology is defined (among other ways) as “a manner of accomplishing a task.” So anything that helps get something done is a kind of technology.
What is a shovel but a technology for digging holes? What is a fork but a technology for getting food to your mouth? Yes, it seems a little odd to think of those objects that way— but each is a tool. What about the kinds of tools we might find in the classroom?
Take the blackboard, for example, and a piece of chalk. For centuries, instructors used them to teach students how to perform simple addition and subtraction or calculate the radius of a circle.
That being said, isn’t math a form of technology in its own right?
The point isn’t to get too philosophical here. And of course, a blackboard and stick of chalk are hardly ‘high tech.” But teachers depended on them to accomplish the task of educating their students.
Eventually, the blackboard was replaced by the whiteboard; chalk, by dry erase markers. Today, the whiteboard is moving aside for (or, depending on how you see it, being moved aside by) things like Promethean interactive whiteboard systems. Given their digital nature, they’re clearly more advanced.
So the question isn’t really whether or not technology has a role in the classroom. Whether it’s “low tech” like a slide ruler or a handheld smart device, tech has a clear role in the classroom.
What every educator should ask and seek to answer is this: Which technology will best equip me to teach and empower my students to learn?
That is the question.