Technological Momentum

Many educators dismiss notions of technological determinism in favor of a “what matters is how we use technology” instrumentalism. While how we use technology matters, this view misses the subtle cues & biases inherent in technologies. That is, there are some ways in which technologies use us. Even if this notion is dismissed, I don’t think we can dismiss (at least not logically) technological momentum. Once a technology is in place, the specifications, limitations, & structure of that technology influences our work. For example, once a bell schedule is in place (or a grading system) momentum starts to build around the technologies that becomes ever more difficult to overcome. Therefore, we ought to be more careful about what technologies we allow to develop momentum. Imagine how much easier real education reform might be if the factory model were not allowed to develop such momentum. Perhaps, technological momentum is why we should be more wary of those who want to implement now & refine later.

Here is a screen shot from David Nye’s book, “technology matters”, from where I stole the phrase “technological momentum”.


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6 Responses to Technological Momentum

  1. Hi! My name is Sara Kinney. I’m a student at the University of South Alabama. As part of my class assignment for EDM310 I have been assigned to comment on your blog for the next couple of weeks. I’ll be summarizing your blog posts, and the comments I leave, onto my blog September 23rd.
    Here is a link to my class blog:

    While reading your post, the first thing I thought of was PowerPoint presentations in classrooms. We have technology far beyond PowerPoint presentations, but educators continue to use them. When I’m in a class and an educator starts teaching from a PowerPoint, it immediately becomes hard for me to pay attention. I’ve been so bewildered thinking why educators use them when they know students aren’t paying full attention. I truly do believe after reading your post that it is because of “technological momentum.” Somewhere along the line, it became the norm for educators to read straight off PowerPoint slides as an acceptable form of “teaching”. Educators are just using what they know works to get the material taught, because of the system in place.


  2. Sara Kinney says:

    Here is a link to my blog:


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