If Technology is Not the Goal of Education, Then What Is?


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by Michael D Flint | EdTech.MichaelDFlint.com | Educational Technology

I love being an Instructional Technologist, largely because it provides me with such a wide-open field to play in.  Education is as broad an industry as it has ever been. And technology is certainly a part of it.

After answering the “what is that?” question, I am usually asked about technology in general, and then its place within education, specifically.  People are intrigued by the seeming steady drive toward online or e-learning environments and platforms.

Technology, the Goal of Education?

I am often asked about our school’s new Learning Management System, or why we are interested in moving toward Project-Based Learning.  They want to know the how and why of our one-to-one tablet program and when we will be offering hybrid and online courses.

But often people confuse the goal of education with the tools of education.

The goal of education is not:

  • Web 2.0 Technologies
  • Project-Based Learning
  • Blended or Flipped Learning Models
  • Online or Hybrid Learning Models
  • Smartboards or other Interactive Classroom Technologies and applications
  • Mobile computing

Technology and its associated pedagogies simply represent the new tools of education.

But do not make the mistake of thinking these new tools are merely replacements for older outdated tools; like the blackboard and chalk, overhead projectors, and the VHS player.  If that were the case, then let’s keep the old tools, they’re cheaper and we already know how to use them.

It is the Learners Who Inherit the Future

No, these new tools are far more than new paint on an old barn; these tools provide the means to transform education.  They make it easier than ever for educators to raise the bar on what our students can accomplish.  Education should no longer be about memorization, note taking, and multiple choice tests.

The tools have changed largely because our world has changed.  The industrial age is over (even if education is just beginning to figure that out).  The information age is expanding at an incredible rate.  And technology is what allows many of us to keep up.  Technology brings knowledge to our finger tips and in often less than a few milliseconds.

One of my favorite quotes is by Eric Hoffer, author of The Ordeal of Change”, who said, “in a time of rapid change, it is the learners who inherit the future.  The learned find themselves in a world that no longer exists.”

Students are Being Asked to Dance to Music Yet Unheard

Our world is changing – as is the world of education.  The role of education has always been and should continue to be one of preparation.  But the challenge is much greater than it has ever been.

We are in the business of preparing students for jobs that have not yet even been created.  We are asking students to dance to music yet unheard.  What brings the task within focus and makes the job seem reasonable is technology.

But technology does not equal education.  Technology, along with the many new pedagogies associated with it, is the means to the end.

The goal of education, in this age, is to prepare students for a workforce that is already demanding such skills as

  • innovation,
  • creativity,
  • critical analysis,
  • collaboration,
  • global awareness,
  • presentation and communication skills
  • and the ability to manage time.

We refer to these as “21st Century Skills.”  Teaching these skills, in and along with mastery of content, is the goal of the 21st Century Teacher.  Technology simply provides us the tools to do it better.


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