Technology for technology’s sake

In education, technology for technology sake is often thought of a bad thing. You will often hear that technology in education  "needs to start with the problem not the technology" or "needs to start with the pedagogy not the technology". There was a time that I would have agreed with those statements. I have often said that you cannot just introduce a technology to the classroom without a purpose for it, otherwise the introduction of the technology will fail. Poorly introduced technology adds unnecessary complexity to lessons, and reduces the learning (I still feel this way).  As a practitioner, bringing in a technology just  because it is cool is a recipe for an unsuccessful project. The technology needs a foundation to stand on.

However, as a researcher I'm not so sure. I have seen really interesting innovations be dismissed as technology for technology sake – as a technology that isn't solving a problem. What I think is missing in this is the view of the the technology as an opportunity. In marketing, when you create a new technology, you know that the users of the technology will do things with it that you never anticipated. The user of the technology will find problems that you, as the creator of the technology, never concidered. These unintended uses are opportunities.

I recall a time in my early PhD studies, telling a professor that I don't believe in technology for technology sake, and yet I find it highly ironic that I specialize in mobile and tablet learning. The parts of my research that I find most interesting are in the discovery of how we are changing the way we teach because of new technologies. I am interested in the opportunities that these new technologies provide, rather than the problems that they solve or the pedagogy that they support.

So for me, the part that is most interesting is the opportunities, and perhaps the unintended consequences, of technology adoption in teaching, rather than in the problems the technology is trying to solve. In focusing on the opportunties rather than the problems, I am looking at technology for technology's sake.  So, I must confess, I am studying technology for technology's sake, and I think that is is a good thing. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *