When people discuss the latest technology, it often conjures up images of cellphone apps, robots, and other gadgetry. Yet this is quite the heart of what “technology” means. In a sense, technology is knowledge – specifically knowledge with useful applications. Somehow many of us have fallen into the belief that any new technology can inherently supplant its older counterparts. One has to look no further than the education sphere to see this technology myth in action.
Gadgetry in Education
When schools first considered integrating the internet into education, there was a significant amount of pushback. What is the point of knowing facts, the detractors contended, when the internet houses all of the information a student will ever need? What is the point of learning if students can simply Google the answer to their every question?
Such technology fears are not unfounded. In the past two decades, technology has outpaced itself during previous decades. The changes are coming fast and furious, which does not lend much time to large-scale studies. Without this data, we cannot make reliable deductions about technology and education. For example, there is no research to indicate whether the modern student will retain information better from a paperback book or from an eReader. There is, however, research showing the importance of learning facts versus relying on technology to supply answers.
When a student thinks, he or she is combining long-term memory with working memory. The storage capabilities of long-term memory are vast; however, working memory can only manage a handful of facts at a time. This is why the human brain needs to learn and why gadgetry will never supplant education. By cementing facts into long-term memories, our working memory is free to draw conclusions between existing knowledge and new facts.
Technology Should Complement, Not Replace
Continuing with the education example, technology will never replace the need to learn facts. However, it can make it easier to learn them. Students learn by thinking about facts as well as through interactive education exercises. Learning by doing is not a new concept, but how we integrate it with technology is. Prior to technology, much of education relied on textbooks. However, just as today’s internet user would find dial-up unbearable, today’s students find textbooks to be dull.
One of technology’s greatest traits is how interactive it is. Neglecting to implement technology in a way that challenges the student and incorporates interaction is asking for failure. For example, it is not innovative for a school to assign iPads to its students. This will not facilitate learning. Installing educational games where students can compete against each other for top scores, however, is a much better use. It propels the iPad from the realm of gadgetry to innovative technology in the classroom.
This is a lesson that is true across the board. For example, businesses that issue blackberry phones to their employees will not automatically see an increase in productivity. Gadgets are entertaining; technology is useful knowledge—and therein lies the key difference. If businesses want to utilize technology to its fullest potential, they need to remember that handing an individual a gadget is not the same as innovating. To learn more about technology innovation, contact the experts at Trion.