Saturday, February 28, 2009


Historically, an important aspect of technological advances has been to help humans control their environment and improve their daily life.

Buttons, belt buckles, zippers - all revolutionized the clothing industry. Isaac Singer maintained that women could be trusted to operate "machinery" and successfully marketed his home sewing machine, freeing wives and mothers from endless hand sewing tasks. Washers, vacuum cleaners, telephones, typewriters and automobiles all impacted households and the workplace.

In the educational world, the word "technology" is most frequently used to describe the inclusion of software, hardware, and Internet applications developed to enhance learning activities. There has been an astonishing number of products created that claim to support and extend classroom opportunities.

Choosing the proper tool, experimenting with it, assessing its strengths and weaknesses, is part of the process of technology integration. Consider whether the new technology
  • fills a need
  • better engages the learner
  • improves upon the tool it is replacing
  • is appropriate to the subject matter and grade level
Does the new technology do something faster, better, easier? Will it be transformative?

Will the tool drive instruction or will learners' needs determine the tool?

"Treadle" by dmcordell
"smartboard" by popofatticus
"blocks" by {dpade1337}


Anonymous said...

I think you've set down a useful set of basic guidelines here.

I think you also mention something that I think is extremely important- there must be time for experimentation with the tool. Tools shouldn't be dismissed or accepted without at least a little time spent using it.

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora Diane.

Your mention of buttons belt buckles and zippers sets a scene. My feeling is that needs tend to drive the use of the tool that's either already around or that emerges through necessity.

I can cite two examples of tools that began as innovative inventions to serve a purpose and that ended up serving quite different needs:

Velcro: This began its career as a contrived, but nevertheless soundly based, invention. Once invented and developed to a usable status its general acceptance and application simply exploded.

Space Blanket: This began its career in the US Space Program. It found its niche as an emergency blanket used by medics, campers climbers etc, and its general acceptance and application simply exploded.

Catchya later
from Middle-earth

Ghostlibrarian said...

I like your historical perspective. There is some irony in inventions however. Sometimes we don't know that we need something until we have it. Delicious is an example of that for me. Now that I have it I couldn't function online without it but I didn't know I needed it until I had it.

I also love your questions. You could make a rubric out of it and use it to evaluate the new things you're exploring. And that is another important point. Educators desperately need more time to explore and play.

diane said...


Without time to experiment, and "permission to fail," many teachers are reluctant to try new tools. With all the standardized testing and rumblings about accountability, some who might be willing to take a chance hesitate to take the risk.


Kia ora, faraway friend! You make a great point - the tool must be available and fill a need. If its usefulness is not immediately apparent, it will languish in obscurity. Of course, some companies create the perception of need, then watch us scramble for their product! This happens frequently with toys and electronics, in the public sector.


You comment perfectly illustrates the point I was trying to make about perceived need.

I like your idea of having a personal tech rubric. And, as Ben remarked, time to play with a tool is essential in making it your own.