Posted this on one of my other blogs - would love your input on what you tell your teachers and colleagues when they ask, "What tool to use?"

Views: 61

Comment by nlowell on March 31, 2007 at 4:00pm
Warning! Rambling Saturday Afternoon Reply!

I usually ask, "What do you want to do?" right back.

"I want to use a tool to improve engagement/outcomes/etc" isn't an answer and that drives everybody crazy.

I use the Dinner Party Analogy a lot.

You don't ask "I wanna have a GREAT dinner party! What plates should I use?"

Sometimes people ask "I wanna have a GREAT dinner party! What should I serve?"

If you wanna have a great dinner party, the first question has to be, "Who do you invite? What do they like to eat?"

Inviting your vegan friends to a chicken barbeque may be amusing but is a tad inconsiderate.

Unfortunately, "What tool?" questions are usually predicated on the misconception that having the tool is equivalent to using the tool and that using the tool will - ipso facto - achieve the goal.

Telling people what tools are available and what they're used for is sometimes useful. Kinda like reading the menu at a chinese restaurant. If you know what Hunan means, then the menu makes sense. If you don't, you run the risk of THINKING you know what the menu says, only to be surprised when the Hunan Chicken hits your mouth.

The problem is kinda like the College Degree Problem. If you wait to start working on a degree when you see a job you need it for, you won't have it in time to use it. You have to get it before you know what you're going to do with it because waiting until you know is too late.

The problem, of course, is that with so many conflicting demands on time, energy, and resources, getting this stuff down is always subject to procrastination.

Bottom line. If you have to ask what tool to use, then you're probably not gonna be happy with any answer I give you.

Ask me how you might accomplish something specific and I might be able to suggest several different approaches -- some of which will not use any of the tools you thought you wanted.

Sorry for the ramble. If I had more time, I coulda written something shorter and better :)
Comment by Sharon Betts on April 1, 2007 at 5:16am
"Bottom line. If you have to ask what tool to use, then you're probably not gonna be happy with any answer I give you."
Symantics - and I don't agree. If I have a teacher come to me and say they want to ** Yada**Yada** , but what tool do they need, I am thrilled. They see a need for something and feel that technology may fill it. Most teachers do not have time to explore many alternatives and it is my job to lead them through the maze. I have moved my Professional Development to a web 2.0 model - works well and helps them to understand the possibilities.

So, I believe we are saying the same thing - unless I missed something in your post. I am just looking for some of the ways these tools are being used. I must go to the wiki as I believe this was being started as a resource.
Thanks for contributing.
Comment by nlowell on April 1, 2007 at 9:22am
You and me, Sharon. Same wavelength.
Comment by Dave Ehrhart on April 7, 2007 at 5:34am
Our tech guy always asks, "What is it that you want the students to learn?" Then he looks for the best tool to use. If we go to him and say "I want the kids to make a wiki," his first word is "Why?" He always strives to get the kids to learn in a way that would be impossible without the technology. That way we're not using a $1200 laptop as a $.50 notebook. We have a great relationship, and of course he is right, as usual.
Comment by Sharon Betts on April 7, 2007 at 9:40am
You are in a very different situation than most - your tech seems to be trying to stretch the tools to their limits. I do however, feel there are times when technology can be used to make a lesson simpler or more in depth - something that could be done without it, but not easily.


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