What is Technology Education?

  • What is Technology Education?

    Technology Education is human innovation in action. It involves the generation of knowledge and processes to develop systems that solve problems and extend human capabilities. It's goals is to provide technological literacy to all students, including all students who traditionally have not been served by technology programs.

    As a society, we are becoming increasingly dependant on technology. In order to become informed and responsible decision-makers, students must understand the ways in which technology may be used to change and control our environment, and it’s effect on humanity and the world. In order to understand technology education, we must establish “What exactly is technology?” Stemming from the Greek work “techne,” meaning art or craft, technology literally means the act of making or crafting. Broadly speaking, technology is how people modify the natural world to suit their own purposes. Technology Education has evolved over the past fifteen to twenty years from Industrial Arts programs, and is just beginning to establish a new identity.

    - Technology Education Association of Pennsylvania

    Why is teaching Technology important for our students?

    A central role of an educational institution is to offer a curriculum that gives its students a basic understanding of the society in which they live.  While our society is certainly both democratic and technological, not enough emphasis is placed on the technology component through school curriculums.  People are losing touch with a fundamental aspect of society due to the fact that educational institutions impart so little understanding of our technological base.

    We risk underestimating the importance of the assessment of technological change or assuming that the assessment of technological change is entirely a scientific process. With our current zeal to improve schools, now is the time to examine how technology should be taught.

    - International Technology Education Association 

    How is Technology Education being taught in schools?

    Elementary teachers teach about technology through integrated activities that are a part of their daily school curriculum. One example would be a design/engineering activity to plan and build a community. Such an activity would integrate the subjects of technology, social studies, math, science, and language arts with the opportunity to create a hands-on community planning experience. The culminating experience is the building of a student- planned city with consideration for transportation, communication, environmental, and construction systems.

    There are an estimated 35,000 U.S. public school secondary technology teachers with each state having its own customized technology program. Technology is an elective in most locations with a few states such as New York and Maryland having requirements for high school graduation. Technology teaching does not enjoy the same educational funding, support, or time in the school schedule as the other core subjects. Technology programs are only funded in a limited number of Eisenhower Programs.

    Technology is often a required course at the middle school with courses such as Exploring Technology, Introduction to Technology, and Inventions/Innovations. More detailed courses are offered as electives at the high school level with titles such as Manufacturing or Communication. With the release of the Standards for Technological Literacy: Content for the Study of Technology, courses such as Technological Systems, Innovation and Engineering Design, and Technology Assessment will be available as course offerings.

    - International Technology Education Association

    What are the origins of technology teaching/technology education?

    Technology teaching has evolved as technology has advanced.  During the industrial era of the 20th century, it was taught in the schools as industrial arts, reflecting the industrial society.  As advancements have catapulted us into a faster moving, more highly sophisticated, technological society, technology education has made content adjustments that reflect these changes.  Generally, the public is unaware of these changes in curriculum and content and, therefore, the field must contend with a lack of support despite major strides to advance the subject matter.

    - International Technology Education Association

    What do students learn in a technology class?

    In a word, it is about INNOVATION!  It is about how people think!  It is how to apply technology in the solutions of problems facing society.  The aim is to solve problems and create opportunities within a realistic context.  That context can start with the student's everyday environment and progressively move into more global issues.  Examples of technology problems and learning situations could be the cleaning of a stream that has become polluted, the creation and fabrication of an invention to solve a household problem, or designing and building of a habitat for a unique situation.  The thinking process is closely related to that of an engineer, hi-tech worker, designer, or an architect.  Students use their ingenuity with tools, materials, processes, and resources to create solutions and opportunities for themselves and others.  The nature of learning goes from the very early years of just "knowing" to more developed applications that relate to the medical, agricultural, energy and power, information and communication, transportation, manufacturing, and construction technologies.  It is a new and dynamic subject in our schools that is as fast moving and as up-to-date as the thinking of technology in our society!  It is future workforce thinking!!

    - International Technology Education Association

    What is the real challenge pertaining to technology teaching?

    The challenge is not whether technology should be offered or how it should be taught.  The real challenge is how it will be possible for a country to maintain a competitive technological advantage if it continues to ignore teaching about technology and innovation.  To maintain its superiority as a technological leader, a country must teach and emphasize the study of technology beyond its use as a delivery system for other subjects.   As technology plays an increasingly important role in our society and affects our everyday existence, our ability to understand, use, and manage it in our daily lives requires that it become a significantly supported educational initiative rather than one ignored by legislation.  Fortunately, the groundwork has been completed with help from our nation's most prestigious science and technology agencies.  The important step in progress is the realization that our technological superiority and affluence as a nation will not continue unless our populace is educated to take advantage of the opportunities that now exist. 

    - International Technology Education Association