Monday, November 9, 2015

Dr. Faulkner: Swiss Army Knife

I have long admired but never owned a Swiss Army knife.  The red handles with the iconic white cross always looked sleek but the real attraction was the number of tools contained in one device.  One model boasts containing 34 different implements.  There is even a Swiss Army flash drive available.  For the same reason, I have looked longingly at the Leather Man multi-tools.  “Quality tools for every adventure.”  For the urban adventure, Leather Man now makes a multi-tool bracelet that is both fashionable and functional. 

I did once own a multi-device knife.  It had about 30 implements including a full size fork and spoon.  It was a cheap knock-off and was huge.  In fact it was so large that it required a belt holster because it would not fit in any pocket.

Having the right tool for the job is critical.  My auto mechanic father taught me that.  In education, technology is a tool.  It may be a multi-tool because it can be used in so many different ways, but it is a tool.  Our task is to determine how best to use this tool and to develop the skills to use it most effectively. 

Even a great tool in the hands of a novice can produce a poor result.  My grandfather was an excellent carpenter.  He mostly used hand tools.  He could make a cut perfectly straight and square with a handsaw that I can hardly duplicate with modern power tools.

Students expect us to use technology.  Their lives are full of instances where technology is used effectively.  They interact with each other and with the world via technology.  A recent study conducted by Wakefield Research appeared in Campus Technology magazine. The survey revealed that 56% of students would feel more comfortable being in a digital class than an in-person class and 74% reported that they’d do better in their courses if only their instructors would use more technology.  Also 51% report receiving better grades in online courses and 87% said they use technology to read course materials.  Both numbers reflect substantial increases from previous surveys.

So again, the question is not, “Should we use technology?”  The question is, “How can we use this tool most effectively.”  Trial and error are good but as Franklin said, “Experience keeps a dear school . . .”  A better way to learn is to use the best practices of others.  That’s why module repositories like Merlot are so helpful and that is why Quality Matters is helpful in our quest to use technology most effectively.  These and a multitude of others can help us become more effective in and out of the classroom.

No comments:

Post a Comment