Wasted Uses of Technology?

Wasted Uses of Technology?

Create. Innovate. Transform. Words such as these are often used when describing effective ways to use technology.

Digital Worksheets. Substitution. Shiny tools. Words such as these are often used when describing wasted ways to use technology.

And while I’m an advocate for the use of technology that does more than just do the same ol’ thing, it isn’t as simple as looking at the technology use. Here is the thing. I don’t think we should be so quick to dismiss these entry points, efficiency uses of technology.

Yes, I believe the learning environment is about engaging and empowering the learner in ways that promote agency, inquiry, and transfer. But this doesn’t necessarily mean it is always with technology. Sometimes, the technology is used to increase efficiency which leads to more time discovering, exploring, and solving whether with or without technology.

For example, a teacher using a Google Form at the start of class to quickly determine the extent to which the class understands the content doesn’t speak to anything transformative. However, when this leads to an increase in leaner-centered experiences due to a significant reduction in teacher-centered activities, the environment is shifting in meaningful ways.

I fully admit I’m sifting through these ideas still and I’m sure there will be plenty of criticism tossed my way. But think about what the goal is…

In my eyes, it is about transformative learning experiences with or without technology. If technology can get us there faster through efficient uses, I’m all for it and think it is should be deemed just as successful as a direct transformative use of technology. In other words, evaluating the classroom experience as a whole and not just an isolated look at the technology use is critical to determining overall success.


  1. I tend to agree with what you espouse in this post. We are in the first full year of a true 1:1 in our high schools, and I performed a set of walk throughs with our district administration, about eight weeks into the year, and they were disappointed they didn’t see more transformative things happening in the classroom. But, we did see abundant use of teachers using Google Docs with students which has been a big push in our district. I personally think that is a great start – an entry drug if you will.

    I often tell our teachers to ask themselves three questions with regards to technology use:
    1. Does the use of technology enhance something you are already doing in the classroom?
    2. Does the use of technology make something possible that otherwise would not be possible?
    3. Does the use of technology makes tasks for the teacher or the students more efficient?

    If at least one of the questions can’t be answered with a resounding ‘yes’ then the use of technology probably isn’t warranted.

    So long as the ultimate goal is to provide opportunities for students to be creative, to inquire, to find problems to solve as well as solve problems that we provide for them, to be innovative and to participate in real, authentic learning, then those ‘wasted’ uses of technology are completely worthwhile.

    • Great questions, Devin! I like the wording – I used something similar but could not getting the wording down as cleanly as this. I’ll be using those without question!

  2. Ryan
    I am in agreement. When I think about transformational teaching (and by extension learning) it does not necessarily include technology. When unpacking what it means to be a transformational teacher (trusting relationships, effective and formative assessments, scaffolded instruction, relevant and engaging content, having high expectations, etc,) I do think we will see more and tech to engage those core practices. How the teacher mobilizes the technology within those transformational practices will make all the difference.

    • I have these same thoughts too. I don’t think it always has to be a transformative experience. For some teachers initially the benefit may be that they rarely have to use the copy machine. For others it may be a digital worksheet for students to write responses in boxes (the boxes on a digital worksheet expand as a student writes – with paper the student is limited). Two examples that aren’t transformative necessarily, but cumulatively over time they may make an impact.

      • Exactly, Matt. There is much more to the story than just how the technology is being used. It is about what the technology affords us to do because it makes things more efficient.

        In a day of trying justify technology expenditures through radical uses, we miss the holistic value of technology and we ostracize a large segment of teachers/students.

    • And that is just it, isn’t it Johnny? We are more about transformational learning and teaching whether that happens with the technology or then technology helps us get to it.

      It is the difference between a snapshot of the classroom versus real understanding of the classroom. Administrators need to focus on the latter.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *