What really is technology? So many people get concerned that our students today are overexposed to "technology". Ironically, technology is all around us. It cannot be limited or restricted. Technology is anything created to solve a problem or fulfill a need. One misconception of technology is that it is electronic. Though electronic devices can solve problems and meet needs, technology does not have to be turned on or plugged in.
When I taught 4th grade, we studied about the invention of the steel plow and how that innovative technology for the time period solved a real problem. It was hard for students to understand that a plow with a steel blade instead of a wooden one would be considered technology. But, once they understood how much easier it made the farmer’s job, how much more reliable and efficient the tool was, they began to understand that this invention fit the true definition of technology.
If we want our students to solve tomorrow’s problems, we need to encourage them to think like problem solvers! One of the best ways to do that is to expose them to the technologies created by other problem solvers. Scissors, hammers, wheels, staplers, post-it notes, rolling chairs---have you ever stopped to consider all the pieces of “equipment” in your room that were created to solve a problem? When we let students use these technologies and explicitly discuss the needs these tools fill, we are helping them think like problem solvers and creating the inventors, scientists, and engineers of tomorrow.
Yes, we should limit passive screen time. But, is screen time really the definition of technology? Technology is not the mindless fluff many make it out to be. True technology is all around us. It is the by-product of our best thinkers trying to make our world a better place. If we truly want to empower our students, we need to begin to help them see problems in their world and see themselves as problem solvers who can create the tools to make their world a better place.