What Is Technology?


Technology is the rational process of creating means to order matter, energy, and information in ways that realize certain valued ends. It also encompasses the knowledge that enables this process and the technological objects (tools, devices, systems, methods, and procedures) that result from it. This definition is broader than simply high-tech, stretching all the way back to the controlled use of fire by our hominid ancestors and including even the first toothbrushes.

In making technology, one not only evaluates the efficiency of different possible means toward an end but is also deliberating about what that end should be. The act of designing a technology involves choosing what sort of future, out of the infinite possibilities, will actually materialize in a given context. This differs from science, which focuses on necessity and universality, and is what makes technology unique.

Every engineering design operates within constraints that must be considered and balanced: economic (only so much money is available), political (local, state, and national regulations), social (public opposition), ecological (likely disruption of the natural environment), ethical (disadvantages to some individuals, risks to subsequent generations). Achieving optimum designs requires making compromises among these concerns.

Technology helps a teacher manage a classroom more effectively by freeing up time to focus on higher-order learning skills. For example, introducing tools such as Poll Everywhere, Mentimeter, and Socrative provides students with the opportunity to give quick feedback during class, keeping them engaged in lessons. It also allows teachers to track student understanding and progress in real-time.