Technology is Still Just a Tool, Right?

One of the things ed-tech-ers have to watch out for is being swayed by the “cool new tool” syndrome. Interestingly, Twitter, as an example, was all the rage at NECC. Its just a tool, but post after post talked about the tool, rather than the learning.

At NECC there were folks live blogging, twittering, and skype-chatting all at the same time during sessions. Just how many layers of concurrent communication are necessary? Does this really lend itself to higher order thinking, or just spread-too-thin thinking? Those involved (all great people whom I immensely respect and read regularly) are reporting that this is a fascinating new layer. I’m not sold at all, but I was not there, either.

Published work should involve some layer of personal contribution – formats that are essentially live transcripts are nice, but do they provide enough information to prove worthy?







3 responses to “Technology is Still Just a Tool, Right?”

  1. Jennifer Avatar


    For one being there at NECC, I feel that I might spread a bit of light on why the communication was so (hmmmm) perhaps fascinating.

    It truly did take the conference to another layer — not perhaps a higher layer — but truly a new possibility. The fact that I was reading skype conversations of someone in the same class as I — yes, at times it was distracting — but in another way, it took my thoughts much deeper than usual — because the conversation was not just ONE person (usually the session speaker’s) wisdom, but a whole lot more interaction.

    Honestly, yes, it is hard to share what was happening during NECC with all the backstory’s — and YES, I will admit that such layers might not truly be necessary — but for one small moment in time — we saw the power of the tools we had at our fingers — what our kids have at their fingers — and we stood amazed!!


  2. mrusso Avatar

    Thanks, Jen. I hear you totally – and as you say, experiencing it is the way to really see what is going on. I think part of my reaction is based on my personal preference – when I go to a session, its because I want to hear what the person has to say. Trying to follow multiple lines of communication at once seems like too much, but that right there is the difference between generations, huh? thanks for stopping by!

  3. Barbara Avatar

    Hi Michael,
    Just browsing…came over from your comment on my blog. One of the powerful things about the Skype layer was the ability to bring virtual attendees into the conversation. of course you probably got that part but it reminded me of the power of connectedness and that is about learning.