Tools vs. Teaching

posted Feb 3, 2011, 8:29 AM by

Tools vs. Teaching

Keeping priorities straight

As an instructional technology guy, I am constantly on the lookout for the next new thing.  Few fields change as constantly and rapidly as instructional technology; it's exciting, challenging, but never boring.  One of the pitfalls I always have to guard against is the tendency to become enamored with and attached to a certain tool.  Some of the tools I work with are cutting edge, and (to me at least) just too cool to ignore.  I enjoy learning about them (I call it "playing"), and can spend hours figuring out how they work, what their limitations are, and imagining ways they could be used for teaching and learning.

And herein lies the trap.

Imagining ways instructional technology tools could be used for teaching and learning is like imagining ways I could use a hammer or a saw.  It puts the tool first, a solution looking for a problem.  Those of us who work with instructional technology need to keep our priorities straight.  We need to focus first on the teaching and learning, and only when an issue arises that cannot be best resolved by other means or an opportunity presents itself that may benefit from the application of a technological solution should we look to our well-stocked tool set.

 "If I had a hammer, I'd use it on Peter, Paul, and Mary..."