When a technology developed for one purpose is applied to another purpose, the receiving technology is said to be structurally deeper as it becomes more complex than it was before the new module was added. Structural deepening can arise from several different causes: Users of a technology will actively seek to improve the performance of the components of a technology; new technologies can be invented or existing technologies can be adapted to become new modules in a technology. Humans also discover new applications of existing technologies and find unintended uses of technologies so structural deepening can occur in both hard technologies and soft technologies.
The application of computers to curriculum and instruction is an example of structural deepening in education. Education existed and included its own collection of technology for instruction prior to the invention of digital electronic computers in the middle of the 20th century. When the devices entered the education market, education underwent structural deepening as new curriculum was added and as new instruction as designed to make use of the technology. In addition, new layers of management were necessitated as network administrators and computer technicians were added to school staffs. Further, the need to support teachers as they learn how to use and teach with the new tools deepened the professional development module of school systems