Saturday, October 29, 2011

It Aint' About the Tools: Bad Practices Will Always Be Bad Practices

I am writing this as a follow up to @KDWashburn's post Tools Do Not Determine Quality

After reading Kevin's post, I wrote this comment. Since it is rather long I decided I would also post it here.

Much of educational technology is just a new way to do an old thing. For example, blog posts take the place of paper and pencil (of course the possibility for a larger audience is the real draw), drawing programs like Microsoft Paint (which I just had my students use) takes the place of real paint, and PowerPoint (or any presentation software) takes the place of hand created posters.

The things that make the new technology valuable are the same things that made the old technology valuable. You are right that we have some teachers caught up in the “cool” tools, but if the assignments aren’t much different than they would have before, the tools are not the problem.

You referenced some talking toy that was reciting words out of a textbook. Is this any different than the time honored tradition of writing vocabulary definitions? I would imagine that you will find students following this practice in every school in the United States, yet you and I both know this is a useless practice.
Whether we use old school tools or new, shiny tech tools to have students learn it is the role of the teacher to make sure the practices we have our students use are educationally sound.

I guess to sum up I would say that it really is no surprise that teachers are using tech inappropriately when they have been been using bad practices with old school tools.

What do you think?

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