That’s Not A Tech Question
May 22, 2020
Last week, a colleague reached out to me on a back channel to ask my advice. Simply put, he wanted to know:
“Which platform is better–Seesaw or Flipgrid?”
Maybe it was because pandemic, remote learning conditions shone the spotlight on those privileged with options like this in the first place that caught me offguard. First-world problems, right? And yet, I get it. Completely. I live it. I’ve asked questions like this in the past.
Maybe it was my stomach all in knots as a parent doing my best to monitor a very, very active two-year-old and getting grad school emails with looming deadlines with another Corona Virus Task Force Update about deaths and cases and politics on the news while trying to be fully present in my sixth Google Meet-ing of the… morning.
Maybe it was just too much “at-me” all at once. After all, stimuli from the edtech world is an absolute hurricane. The winds are always blowing with the latest and greatest updates, and, before you know it, you’re flooded up to your eyeballs in all the things. Some of them matter. Most of them don’t. Just to keep up with the world–and even fellow educators lately–can become a nasty competition, unfortunately.
Am I losing the edtech race? Short answer: YES. Every day, I fall a little farther behind. Then, part of me wonders: What are we really chasing anyway? And who’s holding the checkered flag?
Maybe it was a meaningless question in which my colleague was just surveying friends off the cuff, and, most likely, I was reading too much into it. That’s possible. Still, I felt provoked to provide a meaningful response.
So… Which app, tool, device, or platform is the best?
I don’t know. I don’t have all the answers.
Yet, this question begged for more. It was way too much to put in writing.
I requested a Google Meet-ing. And I invited a fellow educator to join the meeting, too. She’s a guru in using Seesaw appropriately and effectively.
Perhaps one of the best things about education is that we have each other to lean on in times like these. Collaboration can be a beautiful thing.
Finally, the Google Meet-ing was underway. My colleague repeated his question:
“Which platform is better–Seesaw or Flipgrid?”
For about three seconds, I thought: “Well, I like them both for different reasons, and–”
Then, it just came out…
“I don’t know. That depends…
- What do you want kids to learn?
- What do you want them to know and be able to do?
- What are your goals?
- What problems are you trying to solve?”
The answers to those questions drove the rest of our conversation.
Over the next hour, here were some of his answers (and I’m paraphrasing):
“I want to:
- Use something familiar
- Use something we’ve already been using
- Create a well-connected, digital learning community
- Give learners the choice when to be seen, heard, or both
- Give learners their own digital space
- Ask learners what they want
- Communicate directly with parents
- Provide feedback in video, text, rubric, and other ways
- Have a Morning Meeting”
I have to admit, deep down, I was wrestling.
As a lover of all-things-edtech, I knew that this educator’s heart was in the right place. I know it’s possible to ask tech-specific questions as a result of thinking through these broader contexts, first. I get it.
Because tech-specific conversations matter, too.
Yet, deeper down, none of these answers were tech-driven. In fact, it was quite the opposite.
To me, this conversation really derived from a much broader context. My colleague’s answers were really pointing to the origins of the matter, such as:
- Classroom management
- Creating a culture of feedback
- Facilitating meaningful learning experience
- FREE Opportunities to interact anytime, anywhere
- Making meaningful connections
- Social emotional learning
- Student-centered learning
- Communicating with stakeholders
- Fostering collective efficacy
- Fostering individual student sense of self
- Fostering student sense of belonging to the community
- Leveraging resources to engage, enhance, or extend
- Inspiring others
- Building relationships
Over the Last Decade…
In schools, professional learning sessions, grad school classes, conferences, workshops, online meetings, face-to-face debates, twitter chats, and social media spaces…
If I’ve had 1,000 conversations about technology tools, apps, devices, platforms, learning management systems, social media, and even more devices…
Then about 950 of those conversations had nothing to do with technology tools, apps, devices, platforms, learning management systems, social media, and even more devices.
Because when someone asks: “Which app is better?”
That’s not a technology question.