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« What’s New - summer writings | Main
Monday
Aug082005

Problems first, tech second

Last week a high wind tipped over my dock that extended some 60 feet into the lake. (This will have a point about educational technology eventually.) I worried about how to get the heavy monster righted and repositioned for several days.

After discarding fantasies of construction strength helicopters, righting it turned out to be fairly simple. My son-in-law (who is about the greatest person I know), my lovely wife, and I loosened four bolts which separated the dock into to two fairly manageable sections, applied some muscle to flip each section right side up, and then used my pick-up truck and a borrowed log chain to move one section to the lawn for repair work, and the other into position on the shore. It took us about 2 hours, including the trip to the big town of Cleveland, MN, (is there another one?) to get the log chain.

While the tools we used weren’t “educational technology,” they were tools none the less - the wrenches, the truck, and even the manly/womanly muscles. And we used them to address a genuine problem - an unusable dock. In other words, the problem came first, THEN the application of technology.

When things go wrong with educational technology applications in schools, I find that it is usually because we start with the technology and then run around looking for a problem to solve. (Got any unused PDAs sitting in teacher desks in your district?)

The other thing I was reminded of was just how much darned fun problem-solving can be. Sure, I stewed about the situation for a couple days, but when we got right to the task, we enjoyed the tricky project. How dull life would be without problems to solve!

Any problems in your school or library at the application of technology might help with?

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