The notion that technology uses us can be unsettling. Yet, preservice teachers must be aware that technologies do make some decisions for them. For example, if we expand our view of technology beyond modern electronics, the daily school schedule is an organizational technology to help us budget our time. While the school schedule seems harmless, educators will likely recognize that it is the school schedule that decides how long they plan lessons or when instruction must cease for the day. School bell schedule technologies, in making fundamental decisions for us, may cause educators to make decisions not in the best interest of student learning. Importantly, this issue applies to more modern technologies as well.
Consider the experience of Guzman-Rodriguez (2007) who noted that students worked in isolation when a computer-based instructional model was first implemented. Rather than working socially or collaboratively, the students worked individually. In subsequent activities Guzman-Rodriguez (2007) purposefully included discussion questions to encourage students to share their thinking with other students. If preservice teachers can consider the cues of a computer (one mouse, one screen, one keyboard), they might be able to more proactively plan to ensure collaborative learning environments in which technologies are being used.
More generally, technology values speed and efficiency – two ideas with disastrous implications for deep, applicable, and meaningful learning. While we do not want learning experiences to be unnecessarily tedious, allowing technology to determine the goals of education, as it so often has, should be carefully guarded against. By first accepting that technology has bias, and then working to identify these biases, educators make more informed decisions regarding educational technology and will not as easily fall prey to the whims of technological pressures.
This post is from a paper I recently presented at the Association for Science Teacher Educators. For the full paper and citations, click here.