Two Types of Technology

Educational technology has exploded in the past two decades with the increase in availability of devices at an affordable cost. There are various ways that the term “technology” is used. The most practical solution that we’ve stumbled across is that of Layng & Twyman (2013), who take a behavior analytical view of the world. Technology from this behavior analytic view can be thought of in two ways:

Technology of Tools (hardware, software, sensors, devices, etc.)

Technology of Process (teaching & learning instructional design)

A Case Example Using Goal Setting 

Author: Ryan O'Donnell, MS, BCBA

Author: Ryan O'Donnell, MS, BCBA

Most people are pretty good at thinking about goals that they would like to achieve.  Some people are also really good at knocking them out of the park.  However, many people struggle to figure out where to start.  The range is somewhat unsettling – some people can struggle for years, decades, or not even reach their goals within their lifetime.  It's unsettling because there are findings that we call the “Technology of Process” that has been developing in the behavioral science literature for decades. Yet relatively few really know about these findings.

Now that’s no one’s fault really.  People have been working hard to identify the ways that goal setting can be executed effectively. (For a very technical review of how we come from goal setting see: Ramnerö & Törneke, 2015). The way I see it, it takes a lot of work to describe the value of this “Tech of Process.”  Mainly because there is so much out there.  Mark Malady and I combed through 55 years of behavioral science literature in the development of our first online micro course (and we’ll continue to evolve and shape the curriculum forever based on student outcomes), called Exploring Tomorrow. So back to our goal-setting example.

When it comes to teaching goal setting we could take many different routes.  A common one that is used in society is informing students to set a goal and work towards it.  However, often times that isn’t good enough to help the person contact success, especially if the goal requires a bunch of smaller sequences that must be completed.  However, behavioral science has shown us empirically that there are some ways to increase the success of teaching goal-setting in a way that students not only learn how to achieve their goal they originally set, but how to review and manage their time to achieve those goals. 

For professionals looking to utilizing concepts like this technology of tools and process, especially within goal setting for how they want to align their passion and behavior analysis, we're focusing on that process in our Next Gen Revolution Summit. It's not a hard process, but it does require committing time and learning how to conceptualize values, goals, and some areas  of rule-governed behavior. Sound fun? Link is below ;) 


  1. Start by identifying your values.
  2. Identify the things you are currently doing.
  3. Create a tier of goals and tie each goal to the outcome.
  4. Start with goals that you will be successful with and increase difficulty over time.
  5. Learn from your errors.
  6. Create a support network of people related to goal setting.
  7. The process that we have been developing is quite rapid actually – it’s delivered in four successive weeks through 1-hour courses (4 total hours of instruction).  This is achieved through a “flip the classroom” model in which the parent and the student on working on activities throughout the week and bringing them into the instructor. To learn a little more about goal-setting click here. 


Technology is used in so many different ways that it can be a little confusing sometimes. The “tech of tools” and “tech of process” distinction is quite useful, as it allows us to design programs to more effectively reach the intended programed outcomes.  And at the end of the day, a classroom of 100% of the student reaching the intended outcomes would be fantastic – as it leaves them with the feeling of success, more time to continue exploring and inquiring the topics that they personally love the most, and it results in a stronger and healthier society.  


Layng, T. V. J., & Twyman, J.S. (2013). Education + technology + innovation = learning? In M. Murphy, S. Redding, & J. Twyman (Eds.), Handbook on innovations in learning (pp. 133-148). Philadelphia, PA: Center on Innovations in Learning, Temple University; Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Retrieved from

Ramnerö, J., & Törneke, N. (2015). On Having a Goal: Goals as Representations or Behavior. The Psychological Record, 65, 89–99.