For as far back as I can remember in my teaching career, I’ve heard countless educators refer to me as the “tech guy”. Let’s unpack this a little. I’m guessing that these individuals are referring to my passion for technology, especially in the education sphere. When I hear this, it’s difficult not to feel pigeonholed even if what they’re saying is somewhat true. There’s no question that I like to geek out with new technology, but referring to me at the “tech guy” may only reflect a superficial understanding of technology, or what I truly value as an educator.
We’ve all heard the phrase that technology is just a tool like anything else a teacher would use to facilitate learning. I’ve even said this myself many times throughout my career, but recently, my thoughts have shifted. I still view technology as a tool, but it’s so much more than the manipulation of hardware and software to create product. This is the thinking that traps us when we view technology simply as a tool for students to create stuff.
We need to think about technology not only in terms of a tool, but through the learning outcomes it affords students. If we are intentional about the way we use technology in our classrooms, we can design learning experiences that extend well beyond the product. When I return to the classroom this fall, I’m not going to have my students create a slideshow on an environmental issue in their community just to show their peers, I’m going to have my students use technology to investigate, problem-solve, and create awareness about this issue. Think product vs. process.
This example speaks to global competencies. Can we have global competencies without technology? Of course. Students can still practice effective communication, or flex their creativity with non-tech tasks. However, deeply embedded within the notion of global competencies is global audience and global citizenship. Technology drives the global in global competencies. It’s difficult to imagine how students could become globally competent citizens without providing them with the transformational opportunities that technology provides. Technology has the potential to redefine learning for students by providing them with experiences that would previously have been inconceivable.
Bottom line, if being labelled a “tech guy” takes these reflections into consideration, I’m extremely proud of this label. I don’t see the technology in front of students as just a bunch of devices. This doesn’t excite me. Instead, I see tremendous potential.