How Does a Teacher Use Technology Appropriately?

September 12, 2016

We tend to get so caught up in the scary unknown or exciting new aspects of what we have deemed to be technology, that we fail to realize that technology is and always has been all around us. In the teachthought article entitled “Education Technology As a Matter of Principle,” Terry Heick explains, “We usually think of technology as a progressive thing, but any technology dates itself immediately through its form. Electricity, the wheel, paper, the printing press, metalworking, mass transportation, masonry, and more are all forms of technology. Technology isn’t a leading edge, but a human practice.”1 You see, instead of asking how to use technology appropriately, Christians teachers should ask a much more fundamental question instead: How does a Christian teacher live appropriately?

We spend our entire lives learning to live out the answer to that question, don’t we? Micah 6:8 has proven to be a helpful guide. “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” The Westminster Shorter Catechism also addresses this issue in its first question and answer, “What is the chief end of humankind? To glorify God and enjoy him forever.”  2 You see, technology is no different than anything else we encounter in our lifetimes. We need to use it to help us act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God. Technology is a great tool to help us glorify God and enjoy him forever. But just like everything else in our fallen world, technology can also be used for evil.

How can technology be used for God’s glory? First of all, there are many technology tools that help us discover the beauty and intricacy of God’s world. We should use any resource we have available to help our students revel in the amazingness of God’s creation. We can and should use technology to bring what is far away closer and make what is difficult to see clearer. Technology can make the world come alive for our students in ways we could not previously imagine. If we use these tools to become better caretakers of God’s world, it brings him glory.

Technology helps teachers scaffold instruction and make modifications to our lessons so all children can learn and grow. We believe that all children are image bearers born with a purpose, and we act justly when we stand up for the struggling children in our schools. Making education accessible for all God’s children must bring him glory.

Technology also helps us collaborate and communicate with others. God calls us to love others and to work together as if we were one body in Ephesians 4. This can be difficult for teachers to facilitate beyond their own classroom walls, but technology opens up opportunities for us do this regardless of distance in time or space. Building local and global communities that are working together to solve issues of social injustice and to bring mercy to those in need brings God glory.

Finally, technology provides us with many opportunities to be creative. As image bearers of the Master Creator, we must seek out ways to foster creativity in our own lives and in the lives of our students. Web 2.0 tools allow us to generate and create content and not just be passive consumers. Using our God-given gifts and talents to create masterpieces must bring him glory.

How can technology bring God glory? According to Heick, “It allows previously impossible or unimaginable learning–in terms of process, product, pace and content–to be possible.”3

Unfortunately, technology can also be used for evil. If we place our faith in technology instead of in God, we are sadly placing our hope in a false god, and we are ultimately in grave danger. Derek C. Schuurman explains that “. . . there exists a widespread belief that technology will eventually solve all our problems.”4 We are not in control of the world, and while we are called to work toward unity and reconciliation, a human-made solution will never be found. Technology can not save us. Jesus is our only savior and redeemer, and we dishonor God when we try to replace him.

Similarly, technology becomes an idol when all of our time and energy is spent using it. This overuse of technology also leads us down the path of consumerism. Schuurman notes, “Consumerism is the notion that people can find happiness through purchasing and consuming material goods. Technology has played a significant part in enabling consumerism to become as widespread as it is in our times.”5 When technology becomes the center of our lives–often without us even knowing it–we are not glorifying God and enjoying him forever. We are distracted and will miss many of the blessings God has in store for us.

Finally, when we use technology to focus on continually building knowledge and power so we can become all-knowing, God-like masters of the universe, we are in danger of living in what Schuurman calls a “tower-of-Babel” culture. Marc Prensky talks about this type of future world when he discusses the idea of digital wisdom, “Digital technology, I believe, can be used to make us not just smarter but truly wiser. Digital wisdom is a twofold concept, referring both to wisdom arising from the use of digital technology to access cognitive power beyond our innate capacity and to wisdom in the prudent use of technology to enhance our capabilities.”6 We are not and never will be God. Technology will never be able to enhance us to the point of being God. Our pursuit of this endeavor is purely evil.

How can technology be used for evil? Rosie Perera in her article called “Loving Technology, Loving God” sums it up, “When we create technology . . . this does not give us license to subjugate the created order to feed our desires . . . we must rein it in when it threatens to encroach on the created world, including ourselves . . . we need to maintain dominion over it.”7 We are simply not walking humbly with our God when our heart’s desire is for power and control. Using technology to gain this power and control keeps us from glorifying God and enjoying him forever.

When deciding which technology should be used in our classrooms or what guidelines we should set in place, we need to back up and first ask ourselves whether the purpose of the task glorifies and enjoys God. Then, we can discern whether the tool we use to accomplish the task enhances that purpose. After all, 1 Samuel 16 teaches us that God judges the heart of the person and not the tool in which he or she uses.

About the Author
  • Joe’l Vander Waal is an 8th grade teacher at Sioux Center Middle School in Sioux Center, Iowa. Along with her colleagues, she has enjoyed being at the forefront of many changes in education during her 18 years in the classroom.

  1. Heick, 2015 

  2. Williamson, 1970 

  3. 2015 

  4. Schuurman, 2012, p. 2 

  5. 2012 

  6. Prensky, 2009 

  7. Perera, 2007 

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