Lately, I have found myself wondering about something…I even made the mistake of bringing it up to Jeff, and you know how he likes to talk about everything and anything to do with technology!
Often in our face to face classes we have the discussion around why we are using technology, to what purpose and what gain. Over and over again I hear teachers argue against the necessity of using technology because “it’s just a tool.” At first I bought into that same idea, it is just a tool that you can use to enhance learning and/or engage our learners. For years I agreed with that idea, even used that same argument myself from time to time. Recently, however, I find myself bristling when someone says “but it is just a tool!”
At some point, and I’m not sure when, technology became more than ‘just a tool.’ A tool is something that you can know how to use but maybe you don’t need to know how to use it and you can still live a full, successful life. When is the last time you heard an intelligent, successful individual convincingly argue that in this day and age, technology learning can be voluntary for students? A tool is something that helps us and makes a job easier, and yes, technology does do that (well, most of the time for most of us anyway!). So it IS a tool…but it’s not just a tool. When did that last ‘tool’ you learned to use completely change the way you thought, the way you saw your world, the way you interacted with others? Did those other ‘tools’ demand a paradigm shift in thinking? Did they inspire movements and a call to redefine what teaching and learning mean?
So no, I don’t buy that anymore, that technology is just a tool. I only have to look at my students to know for sure. Their parents can yell at them, ground them, punish them in all sorts of creative ways-but if you take away their ‘connections’, their cell phones and computers, life suddenly comes to a screeching halt. Living without their technology is unfathomable. And interestingly, I had a father tell me his daughter was grounded the other day because she left the house with out her cell phone…so much for ‘just a tool.’