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What A Mallard’s Feet Can Teach You About Learning Tools

madmcmojoby Kay Bisaillon, Teacher

What A Mallard’s Feet Can Teach You About Learning Tools

How many of you have been to a professional development session and heard amazing concepts or inspiring messages only to look around and see others who seem completely disinterested?

Then the presenter mentions a new tool, and suddenly the mood changes. Those previously disinterested in the big picture now pull out a device and Google and download that app or program, the room abuzz.

Confession? I love tools just as much as those around me. I admit I click and read many of those “10 Tools…,” “50 Apps…”, “25 Programs…” articles that promise me an easier life, but I read them already knowing the secret: there are no magic wands. These tools, apps, programs and devices will not change anything in a classroom without hard work, time investment, and a real desire to learn with it.

All the tools, devices and programs are wonderful, but until there is an app that lets me wiggle my nose and do the work “Bewitched” style (dated reference, I know), I need to invest the time and energy to not just integrate it, but do so elegantly so as to realize a return on my investment of time.

I need to be a self-directed learner. I need to own my learning. I need to do the heavy lifting. I will gladly share all I know about a tool with anyone who asks, but even with my coaching, at some point, others must take ownership and just give it a try. Try to figure out how it can work for your class or lesson plan or exam or quiz or project. Even the most detailed step-by-step list of directions won’t solve your problems until you roll up your sleeves and try working through the steps yourself. Without this effort, the tool is lifeless–or, at best, defiant in the face of your instructional design at large.

Often I see amazing educators using tools, apps and programs to create the most fantastic learning experiences for the students. These educators make it look easy. It is like watching a duck as it gracefully glides across the pond.

The thing to remember is the graceful glide of that duck is powered by the fervent paddling of webbed feet under the water.

Image attribution flickr user madmcojo; What A Mallard’s Feet Can Teach You About Learning Tools