Friday, October 16, 2020

Don't Be Brand Loyal, Be Student Loyal

People know that I wear many hats:
  • Google for Education Certified Innovator
  • Microsoft Innovative Education Expert
  • Apple Teacher
  • SMART Educator
  • and more coming soon...
So it really bothers me when people say "we can't do that because our district uses [fill in the blank]." No tool is all powerful. Each has its own purpose, pros, and cons. On top of that, most of the major companies are now playing nice and its easier than ever to switch between products. For example, SMART now connects to Google Drive and Microsoft Teams. Do not force your teachers or students to use a product because it's your favorite.

It reminds me of an analogy I heard a few years ago from a keynote speaker. He compared learning Ed Tech tools to cars. When you're learning how to drive, you are not learning how to drive a Ford or a Toyota, you are learning how to drive a car. The skill of driving should be relatively the same no matter what car. I know I personally feel a little awkward when I drive my sister's sedan after being in my SUV, but I can still drive it. "But Cori, what about a manual vs automatic transition? See this analogy proves you can't switch back and forth." Yes there are differences. We can play devils advocate all day, but that's not going to help our students.

Technology tools are like the cars in that analogy. If you teach a student how to type, they can type in Word or Google Docs. Same for copy and paste, formatting paragraphs, etc. The skill isn't different. There just might be small changes such as shortcuts or where a menu is located. Some programs are missing features, others add features, and still others claim to do the same thing but are completely different.

In Fast Company, an article was recently published about Google Classroom which led me to writing this post. 
Google has aggressively positioned itself as edtech’s leading player, and fashioned its “Google Certified” credential as a signifier of digital know-how. Unfortunately, that strategy has created a generation of teachers loyal to the tools in its product suite, rather than a generation of teachers capable of flexibly using technology to navigate the biggest disruption to education in over a century. (full article)
This article touched on my main point. When a school tells me they can't do something because they're using a specific suite of tools, I remind them that different tools serve different purposes and not all area created equal. I have been a long believer in using what works for the specific project, not being brand loyal. I also feel that students need to train/learn on multiple platforms so they can be ready for the ever changing technology that will be in the real world. If students only know how to use Google Docs but walks into a company that uses Microsoft then we as teachers have not probably prepared them. 

Interested in learning more? Come join us in November at ISTE for a virtual panel "Best of Both Worlds: Google and Microsoft can Co-Exist" where we will have a group of educators with both Google for Education Certified Innovator and Microsoft Innovative Education Expert titles sharing how they utilize both suites.