What is technology?

Technology has been an element in Australian primary school curriculum since it was listed as one of eight Key Learning Areas in the mid-1990s. Although a national statement about technology education was available well before the end of the 1990s, it was not until the early 2000s that Queensland developed a syllabus for Technology. The Australian Curriculum: Technologies is being prepared for consultation early in 2013 and is expected to be implemented from 2014.

Technology in this context should NOT be confused or conflated with computers, information technology (IT), or information and communication technology (ICT). The high visibility of information technology in modern society can blind us to other aspects of technology. This can be a particular problem when reading material about US education where it has been customary to refer to technology in education when it is information technology that is involved. Australian educational usage generally follows the UK with the more focused use of information and communication technology or ICT.

Technology as understood in the school curriculum is a much broader concept than ICT and has a focus on the nature of the processes associated with technology. Depending on the circumstances, it may embrace a number of traditional school curriculum areas including:

Popular conceptions of technology often focus on what is new and/or complex and are often concerned with the physical objects or products associated with particular technologies. However, a broader view is possible and is adopted in the Queensland and Australian curriculum documents and in this course.

The root word of technology is the Greek techne, meaning art, artifice or craft. "Technology is how people modify the natural world to suit their own purposes" (International Technology Education Association). The Queensland syllabus (2003) describes technology as arising from a desire to extend human capabilities and applies it to process, products, related knowledge, and the associated tools and equipment. It refers to technology as a process for "design and development of products that enable people to meet their needs" (Queensland Studies Authority, 2003, p. 1) and represents it using the model shown below.

QSA technology model

Figure 1: Working technologically (QSA, 2003)

Because technology seeks to modify the world to meet human needs and wants it is inevitably about change and decisions about what changes should be made are driven by values. Technology is both influenced by, and a source of influence on, society and culture.

The relationship between technology and science is complex. They are not the same but are better seen as complementary with the possibility of either leading and influencing the other at different points in history.


International Technology and Engineering Educators Association. (2011). What is Technology Teaching? Retrieved from http://www.iteaconnect.org/Resources/whatistechteaching.htm

Queensland Studies Authority. (2003). Technology Years 1 to 10 Syllabus. Retrieved from http://www.qsa.qld.edu.au/downloads/early_middle/kla_tech_syll.pdf