Using Technology in the Classroom

Technology is a broad term that refers to both the tools created by humans and the means of manipulating their environment. It encompasses a broad array of technologies from the simple hand-axes used by our hominid ancestors to advanced computer chips, cell phones, and rockets. It also includes the means of producing and distributing power, food, water, transportation, communication, entertainment, and medicine.

Despite the broad scope of technology, it is generally agreed that there are two sharply divergent traditions of discussing and thinking about it. The first is referred to as the ‘instrumental approach’ and it portrays technology as a narrow technical rationality that is uncreative, devoid of values, and uninterested in human well-being. It is this tradition that is associated with the work of Aristotle, Hugh of St Victor, Johann Beckmann and Talcott Parsons, among others.

The other is a more holistic view of technology that embraces the idea that technology is a set of tools that enables people to achieve goals and aspirations. It is associated with the work of Jacques Ellul and is reflected in the notion of appropriate technology that emerged in the twentieth century.

The use of technology in the classroom can be a great way to promote creativity and collaboration, but it must be carefully balanced with the need for students to focus on learning. It is important to establish do’s and don’ts around how students use devices, including how they access the internet and what sites they are allowed to visit. Providing clear expectations and specific time constraints to guide student behavior is another way to keep them focused when working on their own with their devices.