IMMOOC: The Tools of Technology

Technology Tools
Credit: Bill Ferriter

I was recently hired to be the instructional technology specialist for my organization. One of the things that I am running into is that everyone just wants technology. Even without a clear idea of what they want to do with that technology. Of course I am guilty of this as well. The list I give my wife for Christmas is usually littered with new technology gadgets.

People like ‘new.’

New cars, new computers, new foods, new ways to do an old thing. The list goes on and on. And this is generally a good thing. Without a drive to find and try new things, innovation would not happen. We would still be walking from here to there while eating cold food and living in caves.

In education it seems that new usually refers to the newest technology. This quote from The Innovator’s Mindset says it well:

“So although many organizations approach innovation as if the word is synonymous with technology, it isn’t. Technology can be crucial in the development of innovative organizations, but innovation is less about tools like computers, tablets, social media, and the Internet, and more about how we use those things.”

Sometimes that means my job is to convince people that the tools they have in the classroom will enable their students just was well as the latests hardware.  What they need is not new technology, but a new way of looking at what they are doing. A new mindset. And this requires me to hold onto that mindset myself when I enter a classroom.

Because of this, when I can look at a class through the lens of how rather than the lens of what, true transformation will occur. This changes my question from ‘What technology do you need?’ to ‘how can you engage your students more?’ How can you create a better learning experience? How can you let your students take risks? Own their education? Sometime the answer to these how questions will be the same as the answer to the what. Many times it will be different. Almost all the time, answering the how will provide the clearest path forward.

In conclusion to pull a quote off of the image above:

“Technology is a tool, not a learning outcome.”