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EdTech Update




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If you could only have 6...

Tim Holt at Unintended Consquences writes:

...the overwhelming volume of [educational technology] causes a “paralysis of choice” where those that are trying to become techno-literate teachers throw up their hands in disgust and just say “too much!”  Another issue is support. Too many choices require too much professional development. While it is nice to think every teacher everywhere can be self motivated to learn, I have found that many do not have the time.

And then asks: many of us use multiple social networking sites Plurk, Twitter, Facebook and Myspace? Do we really need that many sites? How many of us read multiple news sites that actually have the same information? CNN? Fox News?  Drudgereport? Multiple email accounts? Multiple Blogs? How many of us maintain multiple websites?

(Fox News? Drudgereport? I don't think so, but ...)

And Tim offers a challenge:


Could you cut yourself down to just six essential websites and two gadgets for an entire week?

OK. I think I could.

My essential websites are:

  1. Gmail/Calendar/Contacts
  2. GoogleDocs
  3. GoogleReader
  4. Squarespace (my blog)
  5. Twitter (OK, let the teasing begin.)
  6. Pulse on my iPad (which is kind of a cheat since it is a news aggregator)

My essential device(s):

I could get by with just my MacBook Air, but I am using my iPad more and more.

Our district has moved reluctantly into throwing too many tools at our teachers at one time for the reasons Tim suggests - overload is counter productive. And I am not too sure why, once people are comfortable with the sharing and co-editing features of GoogleDocs, why access to wikis, Moodle, and other social networking sites is critical for 90% of teachers.

Remember the days of "memes?" Blog this challenge on your site! What are your 6 essential tools and 2 essential devices?

Thanks to Miguel Guhlin for the heads up on this post. His own reaction is well worth reading.

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Reader Comments (14)

The main tool I added this year was I tried it for a particular presentation, then told kids and teachers about it. One teacher tried it; 6 students in my district and another half dozen in my children's district tried it at my recommendation, and its use continues to spread, but only because people can see the advantages it has over boring old Powerpoints (the main one might be that it's *fun*).

Since I started using computers around 1980, I've encountered my own techno-phobia repeatedly. My brother convinced me to try word processing on a computer. I finally caved in and become a total convert. I resisted using; I resisted using Google Reader; I resisted using Second Life (that resistance is still in place); I resisted using Dropbox, Twitter, Instapaper, and Evernote. I'm still an early adopter compared to most other people. Since I encounter this resistance in myself *every time I hear about a new wonderful product* I completely understand why teachers have that same feeling. I use stories of my own resistance when I train others.

July 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJude not HeyJude


Personally, my favorite was your "what does your desktop look like?" challenge. I might restart that one..... : )

July 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJeri Hurd

Doug, I have given this concept some consideration and concluded that I could not keep it to six.


July 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSuzie Martin

Earthlink (my e-mail)
Google Reader
Facebook (just can't wrap my head around Twitter)
Mint (to keep up with my money)
The Library Resources Page of SBISD
though I would like Google, Wikipedia and my bank too!


July 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGuusje

This is tough...

Essential websites:
Google Docs
iGoogle - I have Google Reader/Gmail/Twitter all here

Essential Devices (no way to keep it to 2)

July 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

So there are a lot of really knowledgeable people out there that I admire and follow on the web, like Buffy Hamilton, Scott McLeod, and Doug Johnson, just to name a few. What always amazes me is how they can manage to accomplish so much - in their jobs, writing, and online life. When do they sleep? How do they stay on top of all this?

I often feel overwhelmed by all the new applications and information brought to my attention from various sources, so my question back to Doug is, how do you do it? How do you manage to find time to explore all these things, figure out which ones will work best, and still have a life? Maybe I'm just not good enough at multi-tasking or time management, but I have to think there are others out there who feel pretty overwhelmed.

And by the way, the 6 tools I rely on are:

iGoogle - and all the things that go with it - RSS reader, gmail account, etc.

The devices I rely on are pretty old fashioned, but still meet my needs:

Cell phone

Although I am seriously considering an iPad.

As always, Mary

July 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMary

off the top of my head...

6 essential web tools:
google apps (i'm bundling everything in here docs, email, cal, )
twitter (and various apps working with it)

in the summer mode -

Motorola Droid
EeePC netbook

The larger question I would like to ask you is what we offer to teachers. What are the 6 essentials for a school just beginning the journey to technology integration? Do we train the teachers first and make students wait or do we do it all at once?

July 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterErnie Cox

Hi Jude,

I can identify with your "resistance." A tool has to quickly establish itself as very useful to me or I will dump it quickly.

The very fact that you know about many of these tools indicates to me you are not quite the technophobe you claim to be ;-)



You forgot to include your link!


Thanks, Suzi. Great post. I like the chronological approach. Had I done that I may not have been able to keep it to six either!


Hi Kelly,

Amazing how Google makes it into almost everyone's!


July 31, 2010 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

1. Gmail
2. Diigo
3. Twitter
4. Google reader
5. Dropbox
6. SimpleNote

1. BlackBerry (I'm with Verizon & our IT won't allow work email on anything but BB. Otherwise, it'd be an iPhone all the way.)
2. My laptop, but I anticipate this slowly starting to take a backseat to my iPad as its capabilities grow.

August 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth Ross Hubbell

Sure seems like choosing Google Reader is like wishing for more wishes. Google Reader lets you access the whole Internet, so I don't see how it counts as one site.

I'm not meaning to be contrarian here, just wondering if choosing a portal defeats the purpose of the challenge.


August 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRuss Goerend

Here are my six and my two:

Picasaweb (can't go without pics of my son)
My fantasy baseball league's site
Google Docs
Twitter (although that would obviously lead me to tons of links that aren't part of this 6)

Droid Incredible
iPad (I guess. Doesn't do much good having access to Google Docs with only an iPad, but I could manage for a week)


August 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRuss Goerend

Hi Elizabeth,

Interesting that you think the iPad might replace your laptop as essential. I find that whenever I take ONLY my iPad, I miss my laptop. Maybe it an old dog needing to learn new tricks?

Thanks for participating,


Hi Russ,

Reader is an aggregator, for sure. I don't know that it is cheating, however, since I can't use it to write my blog, send e-mail or do regular websearches . Unless it does tricks I don't know about!

Thanks for the comment,


August 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

I write this knowing that the idea behind the post is just for fun. That said, you actually can email and blog from Google Reader using the Send To feature. Blogger, Posterous, and Tumblr options are built-in and you can add your own Wordpress. I don't know enough about squarespace to know if you can do it, but if you can email in posts, you can blog to them. To continue to play the game, if I wanted to write a regular blog post (that didn't have to do with an item in my Reader) I could just hit Send To Blogger, delete what it auto-fills for me and write my own post. Same with email.

Lifehacker has an article explaining some of the options:

As for searching the regular web, since we're limiting ourselves to six sites, can we agree that searching the whole web defeats the purpose? If I say is one of my six sites and that I can use any site I can get to from Google, what's the point of listing six sites?

I think it's an interesting thought experiment. My wife and I have found ourselves spending more and more time on the net, so we've decided to limit ourselves to "leisure surfing" only after our 6-month-old goes to sleep. We put together a good cleaning schedule for each night (along with going on a long walk) and we're already inspired to find more creative meals to use make in our "free time."

August 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRuss Goerend

Hi Russ,

I like your plan of not playing on the Internet until after the baby is asleep. Your priorities are in the right place. Oh, and I know from being a dad and grandpa, you don't much done when kids are awake anyway ;-)


August 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

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