What comes first: education or technology?

There's an interesting proposition in the article The death of the digital native: four provocations. Provocation 4 states:

I want to get people to start from the notion that there are educational things that they want to do, or educational processes that they would like to engage with, and then - and only then - talk about the technology.
— The death of the digital native...
 The technology affects educational practice: it is not neutral. Photo from pexels.com CC0

The technology affects educational practice: it is not neutral. Photo from pexels.com CC0

I've come across this many times before. Indeed, I used to espouse it myself. These days, I no longer believe it to be true. At least, not completely true, all of the time.

It seems to me that almost every kind of technology we use in the classroom started life outside the classroom. Then someone said "Hey, I can use that in my lessons!" Think of word processors, spreadsheets, presentation software, slide projectors, videos.... The list goes on and on.

What happens is as follows:

  1. Someone introduces you to a new technology, or a piece of software you've not come across before. Like Vine, say, which allows you to make 6 second videos which automatically loop ad infinitum.
  2. You say, "I know how I could use that with my kids!" Like Shelly Terrell's article 6 Second Learning with Vine: 22+ Ideas & Resources.
  3. Until #1, it is almost certainly not the case that you lost sleep because you couldn't think of a way of making 6 second looping videos.
 New technology = new ideas Photo from pexels.com CC0

New technology = new ideas Photo from pexels.com CC0

What has happened is that the existence of the technology has enabled you to reconsider some of your teaching methods. It may never have occured to you to desire 6 second videos, but once the possibility is within your grasp -- literally, because you can get Vine to work on a smartphone -- you think of a whole bunch of new ideas.

I agree that technology shouldn't be used at the expense of learning, but I think that is a different argument altogether.