Technology makes a good servant but a poor master


Technology is great! I love it! But it can overshadow things that are more important.

The very word implies that technologies are tools. They help you accomplish things, but they don’t tell you what to accomplish or help you evaluate what’s most important to accomplish.

It’s easy, though, for the tool to take over. As Bernard Baruch is reported to have said, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Your tools can become filters.

Maybe that’s why it seems everyone uses PowerPoint for everything, even topics that don’t lend themselves to visuals. (Side note, if you’re using PowerPoint to share text, you’re doing it wrong.)

This week I will be speaking, along with many others, to a gathering of educators interested in enhancing distance learning and educational technology. I’ll lead a session that asks the question, “What do you need a teacher for these days?”

The quick answer: you need a teacher to set the framework, set the context, and to inspire. That’s the same reason people still gather to hear speakers.

Remember, if we think our primary function lies in standing at the front of the room and disseminating information, we are in serious trouble. There are cheaper, easier, more efficient and more effective ways to disseminate information.

Those tools can’t decide or impart context or inspiration, though. That’s an essential part of the process. No one else can do that the way you can, either.

Yes, let’s enjoy and effectively lose our tools. But in the process, let’s not lose sight of the essential nature of the tool wielder.

Share this, please!


  1. James Reid

    I have evolved to use technology in the learning environments I lead because I know my audience and therefore have harnessed it as an enhancement not like the traditional PowerPoint presentations you so adeptly refer to. Especially in my industry (hospitality) I don’t wish to imagine a time when face-to-face connections of quality lose to technological applications for the perceived value of expediency. If so, I should be working on the redefinition of the hospitality paradigm I have ascribed to for so many years. Enhance, yet not replace — that’s where I find value today and hopefully, moving forward.

    • Donn King

      Good insight, James! “Enhance, not replace.” I like that!

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