Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Two EdTech Analogies

Over the course of the year in discussions I've had with students, teachers, and administrators I have found two Ed Tech analogies that have served me well in explaining important concepts about the nature of tech integration and using Twitter as a resource. Heading into this week's #beyondlaptops conference at Yokohama International School, I finally feel like the time has come to unveil these two analogies for the greater good of the educational world.

Analogy #1: The Hammer Analogy

A hammer is a great tool; especially when used for jobs that lend themselves naturally to a hammer. Pounding in nails, for example, is the exact job that a hammer has been developed to do. There are other jobs that a hammer can be employed to do that work as well; removing nails from a board is another job most hammers can be used quite easily to accomplish. But, you don't use a hammer when you what to tighten a bolt into a nut. The hammer isn't designed to do this job. Tech integration is similar. Some courses and classroom environments lend themselves to using technology better and more efficiently than others; some situations simply don't. The job of a Technology Integration Specialists is to assist teachers in finding those natural integration fits and to explore new tools that could be used. The job isn't to become the ed tech hammer and slam everything in sight without first thinking if the hammer (integration) is what we really need for the job at hand.
Analogy #2: Twitter -- It's a Fire Hose
Credit to PandaWhale

Many teachers and administrations seemed overwhelmed by the amount of information available through Twitter. They are correct about the fact the that amount of information is overwhelming -- Twitter is overwhelming. Consider this analogy, one doesn't drink water from a fire hose by pointing it at his/her face -- it will simply knock you on your butt. When drinking from a fire hose, you carefully sip from the side; even better -- you use a ladle. You dip your ladle in and sip a little and then dip again. With your ladle, you can consume water comfortably at your own leisure. Don't look into the fire hose that Twitter is and assume that you must consume all the information blasting out at you -- simply dip your ladle and sip.