The Right Tool for the Job

Lynne Crowe recently posed a discussion question on the VLN Chromebook Book Group.

“We are just starting with some Chromebooks and wondered which one is the most popular/reliable in schools. We would appreciate any advice. Thanks.”

This led to a conversation around whether you would want more than one device in your classroom.

This got me wanting to further explain my mantra of late- “Use the right tool for the job”.

I liken it to using my kitchen knives. Would you want to limit the use of your kitchen cutlery to only using one kind of knife? And if you were only allowed one knife in your kitchen what kind would you choose to have to do every thing?

Imagine you were trying to cut a loaf of bread with vegetable knife! It would turn out badly with nothing close to the desired result.

If you wanted to carve a roast you wouldn’t choose a bread knife.

Even having something like a Swiss Army Knife with lots of knives built in doesn’t really do the cutting job you want done done properly.

Liken this scenario to your classroom devices. As you are probably aware I am a big fan of using iPads and Google Apps in the classroom but I avoid using ‘the Google’ for anything apart from searching on my iPad ‘cos it is all a bit too fiddly and you loose a lot of the functionality that you get when you are using Chrome on a laptop. I have the choice of devices and I know which one is the best for which task because I have had experience in using them all.

I really need a mixture of devices so I can learn what is the right tool according to our needs. I want Chromebooks for Google, iPads for portability and diversity, Mac Book Airs for power, iPod Touches for portability on the move.

I also want a rich mixture of traditional classroom resources- pens, felts, chalk, pencils, paint, paper, cardboard etc……

To find out what was best for my classroom I would heed more the advice of other teachers and practitioners about their experiences with devices rather than being swayed by the preferences of well meaning tech people who might be good with technology but have little idea of the complexity and challenges of classroom teaching. I get cross when I hear of tech support companies and commercial sellers advising schools of what they think would be the best solution for them. I would rather listen to the advice of someone without a vested interested in selling me something than a door-to-door snake knife salesperson.

I would visit other schools and learn of their experiences. I would join Twitter, attend Educamps and conferences like ULearn and learn from and with people who are on the same journey as me.


4 thoughts on “The Right Tool for the Job

  1. Bravo! Yes! Couldn’t agree more. I have a BYOD class full of an eclectic mix of devices and love my students choosing the right tool for the right task and becoming more and more competent in doing just that, making decisions about what tool, how to use it to achieve something best and problem solving.

    I’ve said it before – 1 device would be easier for me (as teacher) but very limiting for my students. Who am I to choose a best device when we are not experts and technology is changing nearly everyday.

    Thanks Allanah – nice way of explaining your point.

  2. This is what I’ve been saying for a while! Yay… Finally other voices saying the same thing. Great clear explanation –

  3. Love your kitchen knife analogy. I’m forever hearing parents and teachers alike trying to decide on ‘one’ device as if one fits all. Thank you for sharing this blog post – I’ll be sure to share it with others too.

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