We usually think of technology as a progressive thing in education, but any technology dates itself immediately through its form. Electricity, the wheel, paper, the printing press, metalworking, mass transportation, masonry, and more are all forms of technology. Technology isn’t a ‘leading edge’ but a tool of human practice. On a day-to-day basis, human processes are based on prevailing local technology. That is, we usually use what’s available to us to express our collective humanity (for better or for worse). To solve problems, reduce inefficiencies, or create opportunities, we turn to the technology that is accessible to us, usually in the form of tools and processes.
Arguments for or against different kinds of technology in the classroom is truly a waste of our genius. This argument is over and holding that kind of argument only dates the arguers. I get why some teachers are against technology in education. Powerful learning models can be designed without technology because knowledge is the ultimate technology. But if we think in terms of learning design, the argument that technology is already there and we’re simply arguing for a certain technology level can be useful. It’s not binary edtech-yes-or-no, but do we want old tech or new?
If we think of technology as a matter of sequence, then technology isn’t so much a teaching strategy or educational tactic as it is a principle of learning. When today’s elementary students are 40, they’ll remember today’s technology the way (many of us) remember cassette tapes. It will be funny, for example, that we used to hold large, heavy glass rectangles in their hands and had to open up apps separately, or had to know which app did what. And had to ‘Google’ information. And our refrigerators didn’t have touchscreens and we couldn’t ask Alexa to turn down the thermostat with our voices from the other room. And sometimes weren’t even connected to the internet because WiFi wasn’t always unreliable. And didn’t have the information that we might need to be pushed to us before we even knew we needed it. And we had to type! We had to actually touch a screen or keyboard made of little squares covered in Gorilla Glass to make words—crazy times!
iPads and other existing mobile technology will be remembered like symbols–markers for a time and a place in their lives. This usefully decenters educational technology as some kind of spectacular edge and frames it as a fundamental principle of modern learning. Reading and writing have generally been regarded as modern formal education. The ability to do each underpins the ability to make sense of an article or report, write an essay, memorize facts, evaluate cause and effect, conduct scientific experimentation, perform complicated mathematical calculations, and create poems and plays. These are the activities that actuate modern K-20 education. And increasingly, whether we like it or not, it’s technology that actuates these activities.
This article originally appeared here.