No fool’s tool
Posted March 1, 2016on:
Edublogs that tout cool new tools for the classroom are common. Those that take a critical look at them or marry technology with pedagogy and research are less so.
I am not about to put edtech blogs down because they provide a valuable service to educators. But if they are treated merely like awareness ads with no warning labels or examples of critical use, they could be more harmful than not using the cool tool.
If technology must be viewed as a tool, then such tools should be employed because you need them and know how to use them, not because they are new and seem cool.
You would not put a buzzsaw in the hands of a novice without some training. You could, but you run the risk of injury.
Likewise you could let Twitter lose in a classroom without good professional development (PD). By PD I do not mean only officially-sanctioned and organised sessions. I include bootcamps, unconferences, and personal learning networks (PLNs).
Good PD would warn teachers of the worst ways to use a new tool. For example:
- Using a tool because it seems cool
- Doing something old in a seemingly new way
- Merely enhancing the learning instead of enabling it
- Using a tool only for what it can do technically, not what you need it to do pedagogically
Longer term PD of the PLN sort might show teachers how to think outside the tool box and to learn to integrate technology as instruments. With this mindset, technology is not simply reached for and put away. It is practiced with regularly, grown with or into, and treasured as a lifestyle.
An educator skilled with instruments is clear to see. He or she gets more mileage out of a technology instead of flitting from one new tool to another. The skill and passion of use become obvious, and the educator does not simply play the same tune over and over again.
Simply put, an educator with technology instruments is no technology tool’s fool.