Nov 26, 2009

What's The One Thing You Can Do To Be Amazing?

(This post the third in a series commenting on Kathy Sierra's presentation about creating passionate users.) 

Have you ever attended one of those workshops where so many things are covered that you don't know where to start? Or, have you ever visited on of those sites that describe 100 Web 2.0 tools? Many professional developers seem to think that value comes from the quantity of tools, tips, slides, lesson ideas, etc. that they can cram into an hour, half-day, or whole day.

That seems contrary to Kathy's statement that we can help our "users" by giving them the one thing they can do to be amazing.  I didn't take that statement to mean that we should tell teachers we work with exactly which tool they should use and in which particular lesson. In fact, struggling to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of certain tools in certain situations may be the most important "problem" we can lead teachers to consider. Instead, Kathy's statement reminded me that we need to think very carefully about the number and order of tools, tips, activities, etc. we do present. Will they make the teachers (really, their students) amazing, or will they distract them from what's most important/beneficial/amazing? Would you rather have a teacher that has thought carefully about when and how to creatively and thoughtfully use one tool like a wiki throughout the year in their subject(s), or a teacher who has mastered a dozen tools, but can't achieve rigor or relevance with them? Less is probably more if teachers develop a nuanced understanding of their tool(s) and how they best fit with their pedagogy and subject. They can always add another tool later in the year or the next year.


BalancEdTech said...

On the other hand, we probably also need a few people who want to play with all the tools and experiment to help us all continue to reflect on what we are doing and continue to ask if there might be something better.

sara said...
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IgnitEdTech said...

I imagine what Kathy calls “feature-itis” is what stems from the initial novelty of a tool and a superficial understanding of the learning opportunities made possible by placing the tool(s) in the hands of students. Much like the scenario you describe of teachers mastering dozens of tools, only absent of rigor and/or relevance.

It would seem that one of the best ways to grow a more nuanced understanding of these tools and the possibilities they could afford a learning community is to continue practicing with them slowly and in ways that get at the ‘things’ we’re really after – deeper, richer, more meaningful, relevant and rigorous learning experiences. If we work to recognize and capitalize on the dynamic relationship between/among the triad you’ve identified (TPC) in an earlier post, and the impact this relationship has on the experiences we’re offering our students, will we ultimately be working toward one kind of “better gear”?