I had the pleasure of delivering the Kick Off Keynote at the CUE Conference last week where I shared my technology philosophy.
Learning Management Systems (LMS)
Many teachers have had success with large learning management systems (LMS) that offer an all in one solution to integrating technology. Conversely, I know many educators who have been turned off from technology because of an LMS. I’ve also heard stories from teachers in districts that pay for an LMS and claim to be a “technology rich,” when the reality is very different.
I equate most LMSs to big virtual backpacks. If you want to use what is inside, you have to take it off, unzip it, unload the contents and find what you need. It holds a ton, but it is heavier, more cumbersome, initially more intimidating to use, and has a steep learning curve if you’re new to technology integration.
My Technology Tool Belt
I like the tool belt approach because in life, where is the LMS? It doesn’t exist. In life different tools work to solve different problems. Technology is the same.
When I present, some teachers baulk at how many different tools I use. A few have said, “That is too many destinations for students.” I believe that is our issue. I do not think that is as much an issue for many of our students. Look at their cell phones. Check out how many apps they have. Kids choose from a diverse collection of tools in their daily lives. They are more nimble in their approach to using technology.
It is increasingly important that they build an arsenal of tools they can leverage for a variety of tasks if they are to be at the least technology literate…and at the best, technology fluent.
Technology Literacy vs. Fluency
Some may be asking, “What is the difference between technology literacy and technology fluency?” Technology literate students are perfectly capable of using tech tools. They know how to use them and what to do with them. In contrast, students who are tech fluent know when to use a tool to achieve a desired outcome, and why that tool is the best tool to get a particular job done.
Cultivating this technology fluency is easier to do with the tool belt approach, because students experiment with different tools for different jobs. They understand each tech tool has strengths and limitations. They are not going to love every tool and that’s okay. We really can’t get too attached to any one tool anyway because they come and go so quickly and are constantly evolving.
I encourage teachers to select a tech tool, experiment with it, make mistakes, learn a ton, then expand. This is how I developed my technology tool belt…one tool at a time!