The Whole Picture

I’ve been surprised lately by how many ed-tech blogs seem fixated on Web 2.0 tools and their rabbit-like reproduction of variants. It seems like it’s a full-time job to document and discuss new tweaks in Google maps, Flickr, podcasting, social bookmarking, and all sorts of other tidbits.

If we step back and look at a teacher’s, student’s or parent’s entire use of technology, at home, work or school, could it be that we’re moving toward a saturation point of communication tools? I mean, at what point does learning or creating new online presence depots (profile pages, blogs, caches of photos, documents) reach a point of diminishing returns. How much time is really warranted in learning about more and more tweaks?

If students even semi-actively pursue these tools at home or during hours after school, does that argue for more direct use of the tools during the school day or less? I disagree with the “let’s ban ’em all” approach, but I’m also not thrilled by the “us too! us too!” arm waving. It’s possible that the non-tech enhanced intercommunications during the school day may become a welcome relief to the mediated ones outside of the school day. Since it’s very difficult to offer and supervise such tech options all day long, maybe it’s time to capitalize on the face-to-face interactions as a counter-balance, defining a pragmatic and balanced approach forward. In some cases, this may mean less but better-used technology in schools, and an embrace of the best out-of-school interconnection opportunities.

I agree that simply letting the kids use the tools at home doesn’t necessarily lead to learning, but what types of influence, productive goals and supervision and support could we provide? It’s an intriguing question as we move foreward.

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