The FAA Credit Union building which stands in for the Crime Lab in CSI: Miami.

Imagine an episode of CSI where the main character doesn’t “do” technology:

“Tonight, on CSI: Miami, Horatio Caine investigates a brutal crime wave using only his wits and his sunglasses. He matches fingerprints, tire tracks, and fiber samples…by hand! His new motto: ‘DNA? We don’t need no stinking DNA! Sherlock Holmes got by with a magnifying glass and a deerstalker! Why do I need technology?’ ” 
Imagine the conversation you have with your doctor when he diagnosed you with cancer after a brief examination.
“Aren’t you going to run some tests? Do a CT scan?” you ask.

No, I’m really not comfortable with technology. I manage just fine without it.” 

Ridiculous, no? Then why do we tolerate similar comments from educators?

Arguments go around and come back again about the role technology should play in the classroom. Should it be a subject? Should we have standards? Should it be mandated or optional? Some people argue that technology is simply a tool to be applied where and how it’s appropriate. Others say no technology is neutral and we have to be deliberate in our choices to use it.

In my view, technology can’t be optional and it can’t be an add-on.

Technology, according to my favorite dictionary, is “the practical application of knowledge” or “a capability given by the practical application of knowledge.” For an educator to say he or she doesn’t “do” that seems a little silly.

Of course when we talk about “technology in the classroom” we’re usually being a bit more specific and referring to digital technology. Even so, I think it should be unavoidable.

Everything that we can do using digital technology can certainly be done in some other way. As I understand it, technology gives us three capabilities: to do things

  • More efficiently
  • More precisely
  • More thoroughly

Technology advances give all of us—doctors, forensic scientists, teachers, and students—the ability to make better decisions and solve more complex problems. Do we have the right to say, “I don’t do that”? Perhaps if it were only an individual decision. But educators have accepted responsibility for the growth of the students in their care, and choosing to avoid technology for themselves leaves their students with no choice.

So what am I missing? Where has my logic taken a left turn? How does this play out in your situation?