It isn’t hard as an educator to get caught up in latest tech tools for the classroom. If you’re anything like me, you find some sort of online software and immediately want to use it somehow with students or as a personal tool. I’m aware there are some who find something online and do their best to forget they ever found it. (An extreme generalization, but there is always some truth to stereotypes.) The problem for most of us is time, but I’d like to venture to say that there is also a problem with just not knowing how to use these ‘cool tools’ of the Internet.
Time is always a factor in how technology is brought into the classroom. Case in point, I have a set of classroom electronic/wireless response system remotes from last year that I have yet to fully set up. (Trust me, I’m horrified by the thought.) But the reality for many of us isn’t a problem with time, rather we find it difficult to invest in something we don’t readily understand. (Again, my response system.) If I really, really wanted to make it happen, I would make time to set up my response system and use it regularly.
The second issue here is using the ‘cool tools’ unwisely. Sometimes as educators we get caught up in using these new tools to become better presenters or lecturers. What’s wrong with that right? I mean, who doesn’t want to listen to me drone on about Homer and Iliad while using a Prezi to entertain you?! Yep, I’m as guilty as anyone on this one. So how should these tools be used?
I think it’s time to hit the ‘reset’ button on Web 2.0 and online tools.
The point is we have to make time to learn about the tools we’re most interested in, and we have to see the potential use of these products for students, not just for us. Technology is a tool, not a supplement to what we do as teachers, instructors, and pedagogical Sherpas. If we reset our thinking on these new tools that are literally coming out everyday, then we have the ability to make the technology an access point for student collaboration, problem solving, and life skills. Tools are only as good as those that wield them, so maybe it is time to rethink those wielding the tools. There is a happy medium in this, but I’m probably as unsure as you are as to what it is, but I challenge all of us, including myself, to try and find it for the sake of the greatest stakeholders of all–our students.
I’ll end with this…
Here are some ‘cool tools’ I’ve recently come by this summer. Think about great ways to help your students wield these tools:
www.xtranormal.com (Thank you to Dale McClaren for showing this to me originally)