The End-User View of Technology – Not Good Enough

Approximate Reading Time: 2 minutes

Sadly, this is the POV (point of view = perspective) that most teachers have. I don’t blame them – it’s not really their fault.

On the other hand, the professors who teach them should know better. Them I do blame. They’re the ones who decide what you need to know to become a teacher.

My experience has been that majority of Education Academics don’t know very much about tech. Even those in the field of Educational Technology don’t usually have a sufficient grasp of the technology in which they claim expertise to be considered anything more than end-users. Most of them can’t program. Many of them can’t create anything without the help of some wysiwyg tool. They’ve convinced themselves that they don’t need to know this. I think they’re wrong. I’m not the only one.

Programming should be a fundamental competency if you are involved in tech. Educational Technologists are designers who use tech, so they need to know key concepts of computational architecture. This is learned by learning to program.

I did my degrees in CS before software engineering became a popular term. Along with electronics and logic, we learned systems analysis. I learned a great many details about various computers, operating systems, and programming languages – most of which no longer exist. The details of the languages and operating systems are now only of historical interest, but the fundamental concepts I learned as a result of learning all these languages and systems remain as useful today as they were 30 years ago.

Those are the things that are important to learn – not how to use Facebook, or Moodle, or ScoopIt!. These things are merely tools for achieving some goal.

Suppose we wanted to understand cars: how to use them most effectively, and what they are capable of.
Would it be enough to learn about wrenches? Hardly.
What about learning to drive? Essential, but insufficient.

You need to know how the engine works. You need to understand about the suspension, steering, and braking systems.

Only THEN do you have sufficient knowledge to comprehend what this vehicle is capable of and how you can use it to get what you want out of it.

If we look at technology from the user end alone, it is indeed a dizzying and fast changing field. It seems almost impossible to keep up.

If, on the other hand, we look at technology as a set of tools for doing something else, it starts to take on a manageable form.

You need to learn to program.

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