I’m in the process of evaluating devices for my school. It’s a process I both love and hate. In one sense it’s like the night before Christmas when you get to play around with each one of these devices and dream how it might be used within your school. In another sense it’s maddening because you may have to evaluate a device based upon some minute specifications that has no bearing on the learning environment. And after selecting a device I get teachers who view it as either the cause of or solution to all of life’s problems. Just when you think you’ve anticipated every possible case, you’ll find a teacher who needs some outdated Shockwave plug-in to run this website that they’ve been using for years and on which their entire lesson depends. And based upon that one case that teacher will judge that device based upon it’s either success or failure to perform in that one instance. As a technology coordinator, I quickly realize not too oversell or undersell a particular device. No one piece of hardware or software can be the savior for all the world’s ills. For me it is much more important to incorporate teachers, students, and administrators in the planning process. I need to have them identify their needs, and identify the devices which will best help them accomplish what they need to do.
I’m drawn to Dr. Kranzberg’s laws of technology, the first one that states, “technology is neither good nor bad, nor is it neutral.” When evaluating technology it is important not to get swept up in the hype and specifications. It’s important to think about the end design and the end-user. How will they use it to make their lives better than it was the day before.