Technology is NOT just a tool

Technology is just a tool. What a great quote, by Bill Gates. I think technology can be driving force to change the education system.  Technology has helped the education system to move with the times.

I love the picture below which clearly shows that technology has moved the education system forward, right?

Wrong! You can use google docs on you iPad or computer in exactly the same way as you used a typewriter.

The thought on my mind is, does technology change how we teach?  Or is technology simply another tool for the children to show what they know? 20 years ago children were using paper, pens and books. Is my teaching any better any richer now that I use iPads in my classroom instead of paper and pens. Maybe it is a bigger question, maybe these technological tools will never truly “change” education.

David Perkins, in his book Futurewise, states that children have constant information at their fingertips in their “hyper connected” world and asks “what is worth teaching?”  Do children need to be able to memorise facts they can simply “Google?” Does our education system give children an opportunity to really use the tools that they are messing around or geeking out with?

I agree with much of this picture from Technology is not a learning outcome, it is a tool, if used correctly it can be more than a tool.  As educators we need to think about the big picture, changing our practice to work with the power of technology. After all:-

  • Paul Salopek on his Out of Eden Walk is breaking down cultural barriers by using the power of technology to tell a stories. Without the use of technology it would be much harder to connect to such a wide audience and be so easily and quickly accessible.
  • The work of learn out of eden walk connects children via social media accross the world. Children are taking a closer look at their local area by taking part in a walk.  The children use social media in a respectful inquiry oriented dialogue.  This project allows children to connect their own lives and understand bigger human stories and broader global issues.
  • Technology allows us to have information at our fingertips. We have more access to quality and up to date information than ever before. Our role as educators is to teach children how to find the good information and disregard the bad.
  • Technology can enable students and teachers to collaborate more. Google drive really has made collaboration much easier no matter where you are geographically.  Padlet is a great tool for bouncing ideas around with in a group.
  • Social media has allowed for a huge amount of connections through PLN’s for both children and teachers. This can save time and allow for further collaboration.
  • Coding in educational settings is allowing for children to create new content for others to use and interact with. This is giving children options to create Apps that they need, when they need them.

In real terms here are some examples of how technology has aided my class’s learning.

  • Tool : Kidblog Outcome: Start conversations and connections.
  • Tool : Google Drive and Padlet Outcome: Allowes greater collaboration in planning, assessment, information amongst Grade 1 teachers.
  • Tool : Bookcreator Outcome: Gives children a real audience to their writing, storytelling and voice.
  • Tool : ShowMe’s through flipped classroom Outcome: Allows for more active learning in the classroom and learning at each child’s speed.
  • Tool : A growing PLN Outcome: Creates authentic connections for the children.

I realise that this is just a beginning in my classroom, I want to keep pushing to create meaningful connections.  I want children to raise awareness about issues that are important to them and to find answers to their questions.  Children can change minds or views, take action and make a difference, this will bring about change. However they can not do this alone.

Teachers are still  the most important people in education, teachers can change, adapt, guide and differentiate. Teachers understand the needs of all their learners in their classroom. The know where the students are and what they need to continue to grow. They understand the human element of their class and colleagues.

Technology is having an impact on teaching and learning but without teachers who truly understand how to use technology or educational systems that have been adapted to fit the technological advances; change will be difficult. Used correctly though, technology is more than a tool.

15 thoughts on “Technology is NOT just a tool

  1. Hi Joel,

    What a thought provoking post Joel. The learning intention should always come first-what do the students really need to learn? There is no greater substitute for a teacher who really knows his/her students and how to drive their learning forward with the authentic and puposeful integration of technology.
    Thanks for being the guiding light in all of this in our grade,



    1. Joel, I enjoyed reading your post, especially after attending the Learning2 Asia conference in Manila this past week. The general idea was that words such as “tool” and “integrate” need to be retired. In Jeff Utech’s closing remarks (link to he talks about using the word “replace” as technology is not integrating, or helping, or aiding in school, but is actually replacing the outdated ideas we have about school. No longer should we teach a skill, practice a skill, and then maybe use technology to try to present some sort of “ta-da” culminating project that parents love to peruse. Technology isn’t a resource, it is becoming education itself.


      1. Hi Megan,
        I completely agree. The system of education has not changed for over 100 years. Education as we know it needs to change if it is to work with the amazing power of technology. I like the work replace and it makes my think back to David Perkins book Futurewise. Thanks for the link to Jeff’s talk!


    2. Hi Suzy,
      Thanks so much. We are really beginning to address these issues together -what do children today need to learn? Lets take listen to David Perkins and add 1, times 2 and divide 3!
      Thanks for bringing about real change in Grade 1!


  2. Hi Joel,

    Great post. Has really made me think about how I am using the “tools” that are available. The clear way you presented the outcome in comparison to the tool has made me think about how I am presenting my outcomes to my children. “Collaborate together to share your research” is a lot clearer and a higher level outcome than “Add your research to Padlet”. I think making this simple change can help children understand the learning skills that they are taking from the lesson rather than focusing on the task. Check out this video from Jeff’s talk at learning2 which focuses on the use of technology to achieve the 4C’s.



    1. Hi Paul,
      Thanks for the link – what do we need to replace? -That is going to be my thought for the week. There is so much that is not relevant in 2015. David Perkins (from Project Zero) spoke last week in Amsterdam ( about ““maybe a reasonable aspiration for education, even pre-university education, is not so much wisdom but knowledge on the way to wisdom.” It really is what they can take away from a lesson and apply in other settings NOT the task. Thanks for your comments.


  3. I love your thoughts on technology in the classroom. I think it’s sad when teachers are forced to utilize technology for the sake of checking it off on their lesson/unit plan. By doing this, teachers miss the entire point of utilizing technology to enhance the learning and make it deeper.


  4. I don’t know why people want to minimize tech. It’s so awesome…in the truest sense of the word. Awe inspiring. Daunting. Amazing. What our kids can do with technology, and a teacher who believe in them, is beyond our imagination.

    As always I enjoy reading your posts. Great reflection with some amazing resources. Thanks!


    1. Many thanks – it really is a three way partnership between children, technology and us. Who knows where it will take us?


  5. Hi Joel,
    Great thoughts, thanks for sharing. Your message resonates on many levels. Often times I get parents asking about what device they should buy their child. I usually respond with “What are they planning to do with it?” Tech in of itself is just a tool to be used, much like a pencil and eraser. If there is a purpose behind using the technology, beyond substitution levels, then that tool becomes much more valuable. It creates teaching and learning opportunities that can really bring about change. Change that is much needed in the profession we work.


    1. Thanks for the comment Jamie. I think you are exactly right when you say to parents “what are they planning on doing with it?” I also think that question applies to lots of educators too and I suppose part of this journey on COETAIL is to share our thoughts and understandings with colleagues too. Change is more powerful with more people behind it. Thanks, Joel


  6. Hi Joel,
    I enjoyed reading your post. I Agree with you Technology is a tool, if used Correctly it can be more than a tool. I worked as Technology Integrator. My work is to help teachers see technology as a tool. Not easy !!. I loved the picture from teaching and I will use it to explain visually how technology is not learning outcome.
    I have some Apps suggestion for you to try in you Classroom.
    Explain everything : is a great app. Students can make video to demonstrate their learning. They can add pictures, videos, write and recored their voices.
    Adobe Voice : Is simpler than explain everything , students also can make video by adding pictures, text and record their voice over.
    Write about : Students can add one picture, write and can recored their voice over to male video or simple save their picture and writing as picture.


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