The Right & Wrong Way To Use Technology For Learning


So much in learning is subjective, which makes sense because so much in life itself is also subjective, and we learn in order to live. So it’s natural.

Grey areas abound–the usefulness and quality of the Common Core Standards. The importance of curiosity in learning. The evaluation of technology in learning. The utility of letter grades. (And alternatives to letter grades.)

For every educator dead-set on personalizing learning through technology in an outcomes-based K-12 classroom, there is another educator working to develop new learning models that extract the potential of self-directed learning, the role of play in learning, and better understanding the different levels of integration of technology in the learning process itself.

And it’s all good work.

What exactly technology does in learning is also subjective. We’ve offered a clumsy analogy in the past, but sometimes a simple T-chart clarifying “good and bad” is helpful, which is what Bill Ferriter of the wonderful Tempered Radical blog has done with the following image.

The Right & Wrong Way To Use Technology For Learning

Ferriter’s image begins simply enough, with a statement so many of your already believe (based on comments we’ve seen across social media and here on TeachThought as well).

Technology is a tool, not a learning outcome. (Learning is not about technology, mind you.)

But for those that need examples, it goes further, saying no to “developing apps” and “publishing animotos,” and yes to more general functions like “Raising Awareness” and “Starting Conversations.” (Our favorite is helping students find answers to their questions.)

Certainly it’s not true–in our grey area of our own we’re creating here–that creating animoto videos is “wrong” or producing videos is “bad,” but rather that technology should ideally function in pursuit of that awareness and that conversation, not the app or “the animoto.”

Of course you probably already know that, but here’s to clarifying.


  • why then do we have so many “smart” people pushing technology and class management software into school but so little is being done on the material they are thought, how the material is though, and raising the bar on what is acceptable to pass the class on that material. I feel like we are creating followers instead of leaders.

  • Thanks for sharing this bit with your readers. Glad that you dug it.

    And you’re right: The words “wrong” and “right” on my graphic have left more than a few people frustrated.

    But there are FAR too many educators who will answer “make Prezis” or “publish videos” when you ask them the question at the top of the graphic because they ARE centered on technology instead of thinking about how technology can further meaningful learning experiences.

    If my graphic captures their attention, then it’s worth rubbing few people the wrong way.

    Rock on,

  • Awseome and so true! I will share this at the next PD Day workshop and it will be a RELIEF for many teachers to SEE that the product is not nessesarily the point but the transition from a library, books, and standard classroom tools, to the technology itself. Well done!

  • Great reminder that technology is a tool and not the outcome!! I felt great seeing that a lot of the things I use the iPads for are on the Right Answers side!! iPads can be amazing tools used in many different ways!! Thanks for sharing!!

Leave a Reply