Technology is an area of study that encompasses all of the human efforts to create and manipulate tools, machines, products, or systems in order to solve problems and achieve goals. It is often associated with the development of complex machines, but may also include simple devices such as a crowbar or wooden spoon or virtual technology, such as computer software.
Technology has shaped our lives for as long as there have been humans, from the discovery of fire to the latest self-driving cars. It is often seen as a way to improve living conditions, but it can also be used to cause harm. As such, it is a subject that requires careful consideration and understanding by all members of society.
One of the most important aspects of technology is that it is never implemented without taking into account its impact on humanity. The design of a new technological device must balance many factors, such as cost and ease of use, safety, environmental impact, economic competition, patent laws, public acceptance, the availability of risk capital, and more. These factors can greatly affect whether a technology is widely adopted or not, and how it will eventually be used in the world.
Regardless of how they are used, all technologies are created to serve a purpose. In a way, they are designed with an ulterior motive and are thus a tool to help us achieve our desired ends. This is why it is essential for educators to understand the underlying motivation behind any tool they are using in their classroom.
While science focuses on necessity and universality, technology focuses on contingencies and specificities. This critical juncture is where the true nature of technology is revealed, as it must implicitly prioritize some routes and ends over others. This means that, by its very nature, it must neglect some pathways, making them inefficient or unattractive. For example, when digital cameras became commonplace, analogue photography pathways were deprioritized along with the associated behaviors such as inefficient and gratifying workflows and time-consuming culture of physically retouching images in darkrooms.
It is also important to note that most technological innovations spread or die on a free-market basis, with each person or company choosing to implement and use the technology that suits their circumstances best. However, a few technological issues become so controversial that they are brought to the forefront of the public discourse, and sometimes even regulated by government agencies. This has been the case with everything from contour plowing to vaccines and genetic engineering to nuclear power plants.
Educators can harness the power of technology in their classes by embracing educational technologies that support student-centered learning. For example, students who are struggling can easily access a variety of adaptive math games that provide them with personalized content at their pace. Teachers can also incorporate backchannels like Voxer and Prodigy in their class to facilitate collaboration or allow students to share work with a wider audience. By utilizing these tools, students can learn at their own speed and are more likely to be engaged in the material.