the importance of technology is not the thing, but what it helps us do. (1)

If you are like me, you can sometimes get caught up in a debate with others around what is the “best” tech tool. Depending on the person and the setting, these conversations can go on for a long time. I was engaged in a similar conversation the other day and stopped myself. What I has suddenly remembered is that the tool really doesn’t matter, what is important is what the tool helps us or students do.

At times in education, we forget the the things we do support the development of our students. Whether is be technology, strategies, relationships, extra-curricular involvement, or food programs these things exist in school for the purpose of the betterment of the student so that they can be come well-rounded adults who have knowledge and skills. How we get there can matter, but usually the small differences don’t… Like whether you are writing an essay on a PC or a Mac.

Let’s take that example to show you what I mean. Whether you are writing an essay on a PC, a Mac, or a Chromebook is unimportant. Why? Because chances are these pieces of technology will be obsolete in the next few years. The programs will look radically different to that point that the particular knowledge of that system is useless. On the other hand, the act of writing and the being able to clearly communicate our thoughts in the written form, that will endure. This is why the tech is less important than what is can help us experience.

If we take this a step further, what might be powerful for developing the skill of writing is leveraging a system that allows for more meaningful feedback, that allows a student to track their progress in a piece of writing over time and to share this writing with others so that they can contribute to a larger debate. These are all system neutral, meaning we can do them on almost all platforms.

In short, I think we need to focus more on what a piece of technology contributes to the overall skill development and the student/teacher experience, and less on the brand name on the side.

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