Thursday, February 12, 2009

When Did You Buy Into a New Tool?

I just read a post by Bill at Tech Intersect on "The True Digital Divide". An interesting post about people buying into or not buying into new tools that technology provides.

I remember years and years ago, sitting in our very first inservice on the internet. A mandated session, I believe.We were a young group of teachers. We were in a computer lab, each with our own computers and the speaker was teaching us about the internet and how to find things. As a group of elementary teachers who saw no connection to our work and saw no need to use this in our own lives, we sat passively doing what the instructor asked. But then, midway through the class, someone discovered that you could find phone numbers and addresses of old friends and boyfriends on the internet. Immediately the room perked up as we looked for people that we had known to see where they were and possibly what they were doing. We were amazed that we could do this and the energy in the room went up quickly. We were immediately hooked on this new tools and the possibilities of the information we could find. Instead of searching topics given to us by an instructor, we had found old friends who we could go home and reconnect with. (This seems like such a small thing now but it was a huge new thing years ago.) We quickly moved beyond this type of search as we wondered what other things we could find on the internet.

I'm not sure what this says about us or about the use of new tools except that users have to buy in and they won't buy in until they see something worthwhile and interesting. Until they have a reason to play with a tool to see what is possible. We don't all buy into the same tools at the same time. Often I need to see what other people can do with a tool before I decide whether or not the tool is worth the time it will take to learn it. Twitter is a perfect example of that. There are so many options out there that I have learned to take my time and choose wisely. I don't feel that I need to be an expert on every tool.

I don't use tech because it makes me a good role model. I use it because it adds meaning to lots that I do. I can't imagine living without the tools that add to my networks and learning and entertainment. I think teachers need to first see how new tools can enhance their own lives and learning. Then, they will find ways to embed those new tools into their teaching.

In Toby Fischer's post at Future of Education, he talks about the importance of educators taking on the role of technology user. For me right now, that is where my thinking and learning is. Committing to using these new tools in way that fit into my life. I will need to think further about implications for the classroom but committing to using the tools will surely impact my teaching.


  1. I love your story about the mandatory meeting. How very true. It didn't take too long for you all to find a relevant use for the internet, but that isn't normally the case for things we are mandated to learn. It's so easy for us to see that something must be relevant to us for us to dedicate time and energy to it, but we often forget to do the same for our students.

  2. You hit it on the head - it's when we see a benefit in a tool for US that we get excited.

    I've never texted and I don't have an I-Pod. Never had the need. However, when I bought an I-Touch for my husband, he feel in love with the device!

    L. Diane Wolfe

  3. Very few things that we are role-modeling for our kids do we do for the sake of setting an example. We do things that work well for us; and serve as a role model in the process.

    I believe relevance is absolutely critical. Without relevance in our lives, why should we expend the energy to learn something new? And why do we expect any more from our students?

    The trouble is, as learners (and hopefully teachers also consider themselves learners) we often cannot predict what will be relevant for us. We need to be shown. And sometimes we just need to take it on faith that it might be relevant.


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