Useless Technology

Tonight’s Twitter edchat* conversation centered around interactive white boards (IWBs) and their function in the classroom. There was a wide range of opinions on the topic from educators of all levels. Some tweets shared stories of entire schools being fitted with IWBs but few teachers using them. Others talked about how some IWBs were simply being used like pumped up digital projectors, and nothing “interactive” was truly being accomplished that couldn’t be done with simpler technology. Still others shared the great features of their IWB and creative ways they had found to integrate them in the classroom.

Well-followed tweeter, GuyKawasaki coincidentally shared this movie a bit later in the evening, titled “The World’s Most Useless Machine.” Between this video and the #edchat conversation, I was reminded about how much the way we use technology impacts whether or not we effectively pass web 2.0 skills to our students. The wide variety of tech tools we possess truly “lack use” in the eyes of students if we don’t put the tools in their hands and allow them to create, modify, play and learn with the tools. Handing the controls over to students, particularly to large and expensive tools, can be tough… but if we don’t give them the opportunity who will?

*Each week, twitter educators come together on Tuesday night’s and discuss a facet of education in a chatroom style atmosphere. The conversation is known as #edchat – due to the #edchat hashtag each user adds to the end of their comment so that anyone following the conversation will catch their comment in their message stream, regardless of whether they are a follower of their tweets or not.


About MrMusselman

K-5 Science Specialist for the Burlington Public Schools of Burlington, MA.
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