Silvia’s post about What the iPad is and What It Isn’t have certainly kicked off some discussion. In fact, I suspect many traditional ed-tech folks still view the iPad as a gadget, fit only for consumption. It’s ironic, isn’t it, that such a view exists among the very folks that in the past have cajoled folks to change their teaching and learning practices.

In the comments of Silvia’s post, the venerable Kathy Schrock (uh oh, I hope I get forgiven for using that adjective (grin)) shares these points:

It really has nothing to do with the device at all. It is the way you have students use the technology, as outlined in Silvia’s blog post’s second and third understandings. Things like digital storytelling (http://www.schrockguide.net/digital-storytelling.html), authentic learning (http://www.schrockguide.net/authentic-learning.html), screencasting as an assessment tool (http://www.schrockguide.net/screencasting.html), and the types of things outlined in Silvia’s “Skills not Tools” series, are what we should be thinking about.

Let’s unpack what Kathy said because it’s so important to revisit. She says that the following are what we should be thinking about:

  1. Digital Storytelling
  2. Authentic Learning
  3. Screencasting as an Assessment Tool
  4. Skills not Tools series

As we move away from computers and traditional technologies towards tablets and more mobile devices, I can honestly say I’ve answered the “What do we do now?” question with items 1-3. The 4th items about skills and strategies over tools…well, I’m conflicted about that.

As Silvia points out, It’s Not About the Tools, the conversation is really about:

We are not podcasting in order to teach Audacity nor Garageband. We are not recording students for the fun of using microphone, we are not blogging, so we can practice typing, we are not skyping for the purpose of using a webcam.

The truth is, we’re doing these things, using these tools because they are the current tools that engage students in learning key skills and strategies that are valuable today.

Consider this Matt Gomez post about Kindergarten:

As I have mentioned before, Educreations is a wonderful app (and web based tool) for creating videos that we are able to share with our parents and other classes. This week my class created their Kindergarten Mission using the app. After we decided on our mission statements I found images that worked for each one and then I recorded the kids saying the mission. The best part about Educreations is how easy the app makes it to share the finished product (you do need a free account to save and share.) The first option is to simply share the link to the video.

It’s easy to think, yeah, this is about Educreations...toolishness is still foolishness. . .

Schools have been swept up in the rush to network, placing millions of wired computers in classrooms around the globe before there was much evidence that they would see a return on these technology investments in the form of improved student performance. While these tools might, in fact, have a positive impact upon student performance, there is growing sentiment that such outcomes require a major commitment to human resource development – professional development and curriculum development along with support services – a commitment that has been made by very few districts. (September, 2001)

But the dialogue we have around creating, around trying to figure out new tools, that’s powerful. As a writer, when I switch from one technology to another, pencil to pen to keyboard to iPad to stylus, I write differently. I interact with language differently, my brain enjoys it…but in the end, I must get down to writing what I set out to write. But is the result different? Yes since I imagine a dynamic conversation between my brain and the technology. And each new technology I learn reveals a pleasurable learning experience that I treasure.

That’s why technology is so attractive. That’s why it’s so easy to get caught up in the tools. And in spite of that, because of that, we are engaged and innervated by the changes in our work by the tools we use.

“We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.”

–Marshall McLuhan


Check out Miguel’s Workshop Materials online at http://mglearns.wikispaces.com


Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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