Choosing the Right Tool Part 1 – So Many Options


Often when I write a post I really have no idea where it might go.  Last Friday morning when I sat down to craft “Can I Trade the iPads for Chromebooks” I really only had a few readers in mind.  Via Facebook a few of these close friends, as well as current and former colleagues, had heard elements of the story and posted comments wanting to know more.  Since Facebook has a character limit…and I knew it was going to be a long story…a blog post seemed in order.  Well, over the past few days that blog post has traveled around the edtech community via Facebook, Twitter, and email forwards and I have received feedback (mostly positive) from many different educators, as well as individuals with Apple and Google.  Interestingly though, most of this feedback has been about the hardware.  People want to lobby for one tool or another.

Like anyone else, I have my own tool preferences, but it’s not about technology…it’s about instruction.  Similarly, numerous times each day teachers, principals, and parents call my office or email for instructional technology advice.  Constantly, often like a broken record, I ask the same questions over and over…and over again.

  • What is your instructional goal?
  • How could technology help you accomplish this goal?
  • What research or models have you read about?
  • Do you even need technology to make that happen?

The most powerful tools are the ones that don’t get in the way and allow teachers to teach and students to learn.  These tools are seamless and provide opportunities for teachers to engage students in authentic ways using assignments and instructional strategies that mirror real life.  Often, I hear parents and educators describing a need for instructional technology because, “It’s part of their (the students’) world.”  That’s not enough.  Technology is only effective if it is used to directly support instruction.  Granted, in many schools and classrooms the instructional model is in desperate need of an update, but technology alone will never be the fix.  In every case where I have observed or experienced a “technology disaster” the problem can always be traced back to the selection or use of tool that did not support the instructional goals of that particular lesson or school.

So before you begin to shop or lobby for a particular device…spend some time with Google. Search for schools that are using the devices you have in mind and see what has worked.  These people are fellow educators.  They won’t bite.  Via a phone call or email I am sure they would be happy to share with you their struggles, successes, and recommendations for doing it all over again.  In the next few posts I will share what I have discovered.  It’s only the tip of the iceberg, but hopefully it will point you in the right direction.


Photo: Tool Operator by Chewy Hooey on Flickr



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