A good craftsman never blames his tools.
It’s an idiom that’s been around for as long as any of us can remember. Less commonly known is that the saying originated in a more negative light: A bad craftsman always blames his tools.
In either case, the true message is more subtle, and more powerful: The tools we use do not make (or break) the finished product, nor do they define our performance. It’s only how we use them that truly makes a difference. And defining the “how” involves planning, thoughtfulness, careful attention, and adjusting for inevitable setbacks and changes along the way.
This is becoming more true, not less, as technology continues to saturate every aspect of our lives, including education.
Some of this technology is incredibly powerful, like apps that allow students to examine, interact with, and truly explore subjects and stories — galaxies and physics experiments. Other types are simply about efficiency, like testing software. But no matter what the technology is, it’s not going to do the teaching for teachers — and it’s not going to do the learning for students. The other age-old saying that a student is only as good as his teacher remains more true now than ever.
That’s what Peg Tyre is arguing in her much-discussed post from earlier this month, non-subtly titled “iPad < Teacher,” in which she declares that too much attention is being given to EdTech, and not enough to the teachers who need to wield it. Technology is great, and it is undoubtedly transforming education, but only teachers, as it ever has been, can truly make the difference.
Speaking of making differences, here are the best EdTech links this month, all about using education technology in various fields:
- In Part 8 of his STEM education resources series, Michael Gorman put together an unbelievable list of 80 sites, apps, and resources for STEM learning.
- On the other end of the spectrum, Ed Tech Teacher has a nice note about teaching visual learning with the Canva design school.
- We’re all about personalized learning here at Skillset, so Renee Hill’s excellent EdSurge article about socially engaged contributors being key to the personalized learning process really struck a chord.
- Richard Byrne always has simple, helpful tips for using technology in the classroom, and this week he recommends moving the classic “letter to myself 10 years later” assignment to a blog — a simple, technology-forward spin on a teacher favorite that will probably increase both engagement and eventual delivery of those letters to students 10 years down the road.
- Hands-on learning usually means exactly that: Getting your hands dirty with real-life projects. But that doesn’t mean that technology or virtualization can’t play a role. Caitlin McLemore gives the broad strokes about how to enhance hands-on education with technology.
- And in a post aptly named “Beyond Earth Day,” EdTech Ideas used this week’s celebration of Earth Day publish a handy checklist (and a rundown of quick ideas) for students to use both on the holiday and at any point in the future to help think more deeply and long-term about their environmental impact.