‘Trying to Teach’ Tuesday

My question for the week is one that I have thought about for the past few years:

What do we, faculty and administration, mean when we use the word technology in our syllabi, mission statements, goals, assessment plans, committee charges, lectures, and assignments?

Do we mean that we have hardware, software, and peripherals?
Do we mean that we are using hardware, software, and peripherals to improve teaching and learning?

For a while, it meant that we were capable of placing a computer with an LCD projector on a cart and sending the teacher into the classroom with the power to alter the learning experience. Now we’re placing “smartboards” in the classrooms. Why? What does technology have to do with student learning? How does one compliment the other? Tell me how to define technology so I can proceed to implement it in my classroom.

I’m not sure what the word means in our academic environment and why we must stress the need to have and use technology in the classroom. Has the use of the word technology become obsolete? Do we still refer to planes, trains, and automobiles as new modes of transportation? Do we tout the heating and air conditioning system of our building as a perk to prospective and returning students? The answer is no and no, even though at one time or another these systems were seen as technological marvels; now, we just take them for granted to the point where we expect them as part of our privileged lifestyle.

So why do we still use technology as a word to promote dedication to, and progress in, our academic environment? Isn’t it a given that ALL academic institutions in urban settings have computers for faculty and students? That puts us on par with every institution, doesn’t it? So why do we take extra care to use this word in writing? Let’s promote our fluorescent lights and our “state of the art” security cameras. We don’t because it’s expected. So why do we still promote technology? Isn’t it also expected? What’s so special about our use of technology? What do we mean by this word?

I do not understand. This is why I seek assistance. How do you define technology?

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