Technology is the combination of any known techniques, practices, methods, or processes utilized in the creation of products or services or in the achievement of specific goals, like scientific discovery. Technological change can be rapid or slow and it can be changing very rapidly. Aspects associated with technology can be used to their fullest potential both as a driver of change and as a part of that change. The impact of technology is far reaching in what it has done for society.
There are numerous ways in which people perceive, describe, and evaluate technological systems. A simple inventory of knowledge about technologies might include the following: there are computer systems, there are electronic machines, there are communication technologies, there are various types of information and communication technologies, there are scientific instruments, there are power generation techniques, there are different types of vehicles, and so on. A broad survey of the broad range of technology topics touches on reveals many interesting similarities and differences. People also have broad notions of technology itself. Some see technology as having a mind of its own and attempting to pre-empt and dictate how society and human endeavor should behave. Others believe that technology is a force for good, and that changing technologies will enhance freedom, promote economic growth, reduce social conflict, provide consumers with greater choice, and reduce the risk of disaster.
The study of technology has taken several forms over the history of mankind. Some of these have become increasingly important as societies around the world continue to develop complex systems of technological systems. The discipline of applied science seeks to model and analyze the impact of technological systems on society, organizations, and individuals. Applied science attempts to develop a precise quantitative statistical analysis of the relationships between technological systems and society, making it possible to create models and statistically test causal relationships. There are four broad areas of applied science that are intimately connected with technological change: engineering, business, scientific research, and applied technology (e.g., telecommunications).
Engineers are the primary practitioners of technology education. They must apply their knowledge to solve problems and they must do so consistently and methodically. They are also charged with consistently defining the scope and limits of technological innovations. In this way, they ensure that the definition and scope of technological innovations remain consistent over time and space.
As society progresses and develops technologically, the disciplines of science and engineering are forever being transformed by these changes. Technological change creates broad patterns in society, as well as in technological fields. Understanding these broad patterns helps teachers and other practitioners of these fields to be better able to teach and understand these technological fields and their applications to their students.
Broadly speaking, there are two different types of discipline within applied science and engineering. One is engineering, which encompasses a range of physical sciences and includes such disciplines as thermodynamics, chemistry, nuclear technology, and solid state technology. The other is information technology, which encompasses such areas as computer sciences, information management, internet and networks, software, multimedia, digital and analog technologies, telecommunications, and security systems. By identifying and drawing upon a systematic treatment of these four broad patterns of technology education, an effective teacher can teach across these different domains and understand how and why different technologies are used.