In the Digital Age, tasks should drive tools--not the other way around.

Driving digital tools with pedagogical strategies

There are three critical issues that are expanding the gap between the modern classroom and today's digital tools

“We refer to a way of life in an integrated domain where hunches, cut-and-try, intangibles, and the human ‘feel for a situation’ usefully coexist with powerful concepts, streamlined technology and notation, sophisticated methods, and high-powered electronic aids.” – Douglas Engelbart, 1962

In the Digital Age learning should drive tools, not the other way around. And yet we continue to struggle with tools that don’t really fit what’s going on in a modern classroom. This is a central conundrum that has always frustrated me as both a technologist and educator. There are three critical issues that drive this gap.

First, as educators we have been trained to live with the shortcomings of the tools given to us because in many cases they were products of a general purpose approach to outfitting classrooms and creating pedagogical support materials. This has persisted into the age of customization that digital technology offers us.

Related content: Can adaptive tools improve student retention?

Second, the toolmakers often have a poor understanding of how effective pedagogy works. Therefore, they frequently design around stereotypical or archaic versions of how a classroom works. At worst, they pay scant attention it and use corporate models for designing products for learning because the educational market represents such a small percentage of their business.

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