At some point it's about the technology

As the graduate course I teach for Plymouth State University starts up again I’m reminded of the fact that at some point it’s about the tool.

Sure I understand that it’s really about the learning, but it is also about the technology. It’s about all the “How To” videos on YouTube. It’s about the team at CommonCraft making a living out of the “How To” part of technology.

And at the end of the day, 90% of the PD I offer here at my school is how to do different things with technology.

Yes, at some point it is about the tools. You have to make sure your Ying is with your Yang.

Why we use these tools is just as important to support is how we use these tools. Some teachers need/want to know WHY we use them before HOW to use them. Others want to know HOW to use them before figuring out WHY they use them.

Is there a right or wrong way? I don’t think so, we’re all different, we all see things in different ways.

I’m a HOW person personally. I sign up for something, test it out, figure it out, and then answer the question WHY you would use this tool.

That’s just me….I start with the tools and answer the question WHY.

It’s the old Ying and Yang approach. One thing that has always rubbed me the wrong way is consultants who come into schools, talk about WHY you/we should be doing all this stuff, but not take the time to offer a session on HOW.

Take RSS for an example, I’ve been to many a session and believe personally that every educator should learn to use a RSS Reader. I know WHY and hear consultants/presenters all the time talking about WHY we should be using an RSS Reader. But HOW?

And trust me “Just go sign up for one” is not helping/supporting educators. It’s more complicated than “just signing up for one”. For us in the tech bubble we know what “just sign up” means. For those not in the tech bubble it is a lot more complicated than that.

We’re almost half way through the school year and I still have teachers who struggle with HOW to upload pictures to our Flickr account. They understand WHY they should, but the HOW takes a long time to learn. Because it’s not just uploading pictures. It’s uploading pictures, creating a Set, organizing them in a way that is easy to find, and naming them in a way that we know what the picture is.

At some point it’s about the technology and it should be. We live in a technical world, and the HOW is just as important as the WHY.