What do computers, mobile phones, robotics have in common with a pencil, to-go cups from your local coffee shop, or an idea for better work flow? The answer is simple. They are all forms of technology. Technology is anything that was designed with the goal of having a purpose. Yes, a mobile phone is a great piece of technology, but so is the pencil, and those to-go cups you get from your local coffee shop.
Technology starts off as an idea, and evolves into a plan or concept, continues to grow and then evolves until we have a solution. And even with a solution, sometimes the technology will continue to grow with newer ideas and newer solutions. That is what technology is. And it is always evolving.
Things start off small, and then they grow as new ideas and input come into play. For example, two rocks were used to make fire. It was great technology. But as technology advanced, we ditched the rocks and moved to matches, then invented lighters. Another example is how we receive information. At one point, our best technology for getting information delivered was by a person on horse carrying a bag filled with messages. In time, that technology changed, and the horse was replaced by train, and then cars. Then came email, which made it possible to send a letter out. With email technology, moments after a message is sent, the other person, or persons, had it in their inbox. But even then we weren’t satisfied. Again technology changed, and we now communicate instantaneously via text messages and social media.
Technology and Learning
With modern workplace learning, it’s the same process. Your solution to getting past a learning need or performance gap starts with an idea, and that idea evolves into a design. This is technology. And this is how it works.
Yes, it has a wide meaning, but technology is literally everything around us. Even the idea of this blog is technology. Everything from how the team decided what categories to focus on, the subject matter for each week, to how the content is being delivered. Even how we access this information and process it, is considered technology.
As training designers, developers, facilitators, producers, and curators, we have participated in the evolution of this technology. (Our roles have also evolved into Learning Experience Architects!) We went from letterpress, to offset press, to mimeograph, to fax, to dot matrix printer, to laser printer, to share learning materials (I won’t go back to illuminated manuscripts). We went from glass slides, to film slides, to film strips, to overhead projectors, to film, to digital, to video on demand to share learning materials. In all cases, we are shaping whatever technology is available to help us meet our outcomes.
It doesn’t matter how large or small the work/learning environments is. You could be a Fortune 500 company or a small family run business with just a handful of employees. Either way, you will use a form of technology to engage your audience.
Is Newer Tech Better Tech?
It’s important to know that it doesn't matter how old (or new) the technology is, what matters is that you are taking advantage of the technology available to design, develop, deliver, facilitate, produce, and curate learning. And that you are exploring new ways to use that technology to reach desired outcomes.
For example, I decided that I would write this post using Google’s voice-to-text software. I wanted to explore the technology to see if it would make my work easier. In the end, I could create a post -- though there were some difficulties with voice recognition.
Will it be a technology I will use again in the future? Sure, I’ll give it another try. But, I’m thinking the old-fashioned keyboard might be better. And if for some reason I’m in an area with no power, well I guess I’ll have to use a pencil and find someone with a horse.
Go old school with this review of the original EdTech. From pointers that doubled as corporeal punishment devices, to Stereoscopes: the original VR goggles, this is a fun exploration of technology in the classroom.
General Resources: The Modern Learning Resource Library
InSync produces a variety of learning technologies to inform and teach, including infographics, videos, blogs, and webinars.
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