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Discussion: Roundtable
Topic: Technology replaces teachers?

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Subject:   technology as tool
Author: anders
Date: Oct 22 2003
I think it is important to define "technology" in the classroom. To some this
means anything that is digital, electonic, or based. This definition would
include an overhead projector, a handheld device like the Palm, a word
processor, or even a stopwatch. However, we can also think of "technology" as
having a broader scope when we are talking about teaching. I'd consider the
printed page, the pencil, and the blackboard all "technologies" that have been
used in classrooms over the years (often with some hesitancy). When we broaden
the definition in this way I think it is easier to see "technologies" in general
as tools that teachers and students can use for learning.

As is the case for any tool, whether we are talking about tools used for
teaching, construction, surgery, or psychotherapy, they can be used in
constructive, destructive, or inappropriate (there are better tools for the job)
ways. Using the simple case of a ruler, I can use this tool to help me create a
drawing for a house I want to build, but I can also use it to break a window, or
even to stir a can of paint. I think what is key here is that if students are
going to use any tool for learning, they need to be taught the appropriate uses
of the tool, know its strengths and limitations, and learn that its function is
to aid the user in some way. In the case of most tools used in the classroom
they tend tend to aid or amplify cognition.

Given this view of tools, it think it is clear that a key role for the teacher
is to make sure students understand the affordances and constaints of the tools
they use and to help guide them as they explore their world using these

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