Technology in STEAM education is of particular importance as a basic understanding of technology is now required for almost any kind of work. The idea behind STEAM education is to place a focus on the areas of science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics, emphasizing their importance for developing transferable skills and highlighting their value within the workforce. In today’s world, the field of technology is vital because it is all around us, assisting our everyday lives, driving entire industries, and keeping us connected.
Keep reading to learn more about the importance of technology in STEAM education or visit our education solutions page for further insights and teaching tips.
What is STEAM education? Put simply, the central idea is to emphasize the importance of the five main STEAM fields and to help students to engage with them. In addition, the STEAM concept is designed to encourage integrated teaching of the fields, and this is an area where technology has an especially useful role to play.
After all, technology can be used to assist with science, engineering, the arts, and mathematics, while it can also be taught as a distinct subject of its own – known as technology education. Furthermore, education technology, or EdTech for short, has also emerged as a crucial tool for teachers and students. In this article, we will explore what technology means in this context, why it is so important, and how it influences STEAM education as a whole.
What is Technology?
Out of the five STEAM education fields, technology is arguably the most abstract in terms of its relationship to academia. This is partly because technology is constantly evolving, but it is also because technology is less established as a clearly defined academic subject than things like science or mathematics.
Technology education is defined by the Technology Education Lab as:
“An integrated, experience-based instructional program designed to prepare students to be knowledgeable about technology – its evolution, systems, technologies, utilization, and social and cultural significance.”
A major focus of many technology programs is bridging the gap that exists between widespread usage of technology and less common knowledge about how technology actually works and how to create or fix it. The STEAM field of technology can also be said to include Information Technology (IT) and computer-based disciplines too.
The Importance of Technology
Technology is an important focus area for educators because students need to become familiar with how to use computers, machines, and other devices, not only within education settings but also within their daily lives. Of course, this use of technology also continues once students move into employment too.
However, beyond this, students have the opportunity to learn how technology actually works, rather than simply engaging with it as a user. This is also crucial because people with these skills can potentially move into fields where they will be involved in designing, testing, or manufacturing devices or equipment.
Information Technology is also at the very heart of many organizations, and developing IT skills is absolutely essential, not only for lessons based on IT, but for almost all modern lessons. The importance of IT skills has only increased further with the rise of EdTech and by the increased demand for distance learning options.
Technology in STEAM Education
With the overall importance of technology and technology-based lessons established, it is also important to understand how technology works in a STEAM context. As stated, one of the big focuses of STEAM education is on integration, and it could be argued that technology is the easiest of the five STEAM fields to integrate with the others.
The links between science and technology are numerous and, in an overview of STEAM education, Georgette Yakman argues that “science provides the framework by which all technology is developed and structured to function.” Similarly, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering are obvious examples of areas where engineering crosses over with technology and where the two concepts can be taught in unison.
The arts is a broad field, but areas like computer-aided design and photography are good examples of cross-over with technology. In addition, technology can assist with mathematics in a number of ways, from the use of calculators or computer spreadsheets to perform arithmetic through to the use of software to make graphs and charts.
Modern society is largely driven by technology, and this requires people to understand how to use it, as well as how to make it and how to fix it when it goes wrong. Technology-based subjects are a key part of a good academic curriculum, helping to equip students with transferable skills, and technology is also relatively easy to integrate with the other main STEAM education fields – science, engineering, the arts, and mathematics.
Despite this, technology is arguably the most abstract of the STEAM fields because technology education is less clearly defined than many other academic subjects, and this continues to present a challenge to educators.
If you have not been following our short series on STEAM education, please feel free to read our introduction to STEAM education as well as our look at the importance of science within the STEAM framework. You can also visit our education solutions page where you’ll find numerous insights into the digital transformation of education.