1.4 – Ed Tech History?

  1. Describe and discuss one or two elements from the Bates or Watters chapters that allowed you to think deeper about your past or present teaching.

Seymour Papert’s question “should the computer program the kid or should the kid program the computer?” (as quoted in Watters, 2014, p. 11-12) really got me thinking about when I first brought one-on-one technology into my classroom.  I remember having this dream of using tech as means of students interacting with the world around them.  Maybe one student could find a pen pal in the Ukraine and learn about what holidays they celebrate there.  Maybe another student could follow an astronaut’s trip to space and write about it.  Maybe a third student would use it to record his deepest thoughts.  I really had this dream that tech would be the answer to successfully and impactfully differentiang learning in my classroom.

The real world intervened in my dreaming however.  Just like Papert stated in his book, The Children’s Machine, “Progressive teachers knew very well how to use the computer for their own ends as an instrument of change; School knew very well how to nip this subversion in the bud.” (as quoted in Watters, 2014, p. 12), I could dream all I wanted, but I still lived and worked in a world where FOIP, curricular expectations, standardized testing and old-school thinkers existed.  So instead of creating this student-centered learning environment I dreamed of, I downloaded sight word apps and math games or had students use voice to text to write their stories.  Now don’t get me wrong, did it help with student engagement and offer accommodations for students, absolutely, but that vision I initially had, never really materialized.

Now when looking at Bates work, it made reflect on the definition of the word technology.  According to Merriam-Webster technology is “a capability given by the practical application of knowledge.”  So according to this, the answer to Bates’ question under the picture of Moses “Are the tablets of stone an educational technology?” is yes.  Using the knowledge, and ability garnered from that knowledge, Moses was able to chisel his teachings in stone and educate those around him.  So it makes me think, technology is always evolving, going from a chisel, to a pencil, to a typewriter, to a computer or even to an iPad and it’s going to continue to evolve.  It is our role as educators, to find meaningful ways to incorporate these technologies into environments where students are challenged and engaged in a manner that promotes growth.


Watters, A. (2014). The Hidden history of ed-tech. In The Monsters of Educational Technology, pp. 7-31.

“Technology.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/technology.

Bates, A.W. (2015). A short history of educational technology. In Teaching in a Digital Age. Victoria: BCcampus.

1 thought on “1.4 – Ed Tech History?

  1. I agree that institutional policies and the demands of the moment can interfere with goals for truly revolutionary use of technology. I think it’s a sound strategy to map out a series of little steps that can take your students from passive to active users of technology. In the end this will still need some imaginative work to comply with FIPPA and get institutional buy-in.

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