Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"Why" is More Important Than "What"

Image by o5com

I have had the opportunity to serve on a few committees centered on technology integration in the classroom. Many times, there has been a greater emphasis on tools and services, the "what" of technology, and not as much focus on the reasons behind it, the "why."

The "what" places focus on putting a specific tool in the classroom and making it work while the "why"focuses on the objective and which tools would be best for meeting that objective. "Why" creates a vision and "what" creates a to-do list. It is difficult to get people on board if they do not see a value to what they are being asked to do.

What can help teachers become invested in technology in the classroom? An understanding of why it is important. Teachers, administrators, students, and parents need to be able to see and understand the value of technology in the classroom or else it becomes another fad they have to "get through."The "why" includes why technology can add to their teaching; how it will benefit teachers and students as lifelong learners; why it empowers their students. Focusing on the "what" creates a mindset of always feeling behind because technology can be hard to keep up with. There will always be something newer and shinier and chasing tools can lead to dissatisfaction and missing the bigger picture.

Don't misunderstand me, in discussion of technology integration, there must be discussion about appropriate tools and services because  parents, teachers, students, and administrators need to know what resources are available. But, in my opinion, they need to support a larger vision or it will continue to be an uphill battle.

Author Seth Godin wrote an excellent blog post with excellent starter questions.

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