What Is Technology?

Technology is the application of knowledge to achieve practical goals in a reproducible way. It includes both the tools themselves—such as utensils and machines—and the processes by which they are developed, fabricated, and used. Technology also refers to the broader social context in which technology takes place, including societal values and beliefs.

Individual inventiveness is essential to technological innovation, but there are powerful societal forces that determine what technologies will be undertaken, paid attention to, and invested in. These include consumer acceptance, patent laws, the availability of risk capital, the federal budget process, local and national regulations, economic competition, media attention, and scientific discovery.

In addition, technological systems require substantial training and education to construct, operate, and maintain them. Moreover, they often disrupt existing social hierarchies and can harm individuals and groups. Despite these limitations, the benefits of technological progress outweigh the risks.

Teachers can promote positive outcomes in the classroom by modeling balanced tech use. For example, allowing students to research and collaborate online can be beneficial, but limiting the time spent on these tasks can help prevent distracting behavior. It is also important to clearly establish do’s and don’ts for device use in the classroom, which may be aided by school and district-based filters and blocks. In addition, setting clear time limits and providing concrete deliverables are also effective strategies to keep students on task while using devices.