Education is a Technology

We can see that education is a technology by reviewing several characteristics of technology:

  • Technologies served human need. Humans build schools so that young people can develop the reading and writing skills necessary for literate and ICT-based culture.
  • Natural phenomenon are controlled in technologies. In our schools we create settings in which human brains are changed.
  • Technologies are recursive and modular. Technologies are built one upon another (recursive) so that any technology becomes a complex of others; while changing one technology in the complex influences the others and the whole, each retain an independent nature (modular).
  • Technologies undergo structural deepening. When computers were added to the educators’ tool box, structural deepening occurred as new professional development was necessary and new support staff were necessary (to name only two examples).
  • Technologies transfer (sometimes). The technologies developed n one area for one population may not be accepted in other populations or have the same result. This explains why good teachers look for tips and tricks from others, but always modify others’ lessons for their one classroom.

One of the underlying assumptions about technology is that it makes life easier or more efficient. This turns out to be a false assumption. When computers arrived in offices, secretaries did not spend less time writing memos. They wrote (and rewrote and edited) more memo and they spent time learning to use word processing software and clearing printer jams and other tasks familiar to computer users. The assumption, then that technology relives one of work does not appear to be accurate.

A second assumption that is made about technology is that it is neutral; while it may make tasks quicker, it does not change the nature of the works, especially for cognitive tasks. This idea was well-established early in the history of computers as early advocates argued that moving bits and accessing information were the important aspects of computer technologies. As an example, Vannaver Bush proposed the memex in 1945, and many saw his prediction that information worker would navigate and contribute to a nearly-infinite information pathways, and many see this as the first concept of the Internet. Bush and others did not predict, however, the important role that interaction would play in the Internet. Today, the Internet is used as much for social interaction as it is for Bush’s predicted information interaction.