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As I look back over my many years in instructional technology, I can remember all of the times when the news was buzzing about the next best technology. I remember the first TRS-80 that I actually used for recordkeeping. The company even “improved” on the device with the addition of a cassette drive. Technology finally improved for education with Apple’s introduction of the IIe in 1983. And in 1992, my home life changed with the purchase of a Mac Classic. I still have that computer (pictured above). It’s on a shelf in the basement waiting for the day when I pull out my directions for transforming it into an aquarium. Which brings up the point that no great technology stays great for too long.
I spent last summer exploring all the uses for my new iPad. I gave it a full workout at the ISTE conference and tried it out as an e-reader on my vacation to Mexico. You can read about that experience in my blog post “And the Winner Is…”. The iPad is still a device that I use frequently when I’m at home for reading newspapers, magazines, and catching up on my Google Reader. I absolutely love the Flipboard app for consolidating all of my must read content into one place. I’ve also seen great uses for the iPad and the iPod Touch in classrooms in my district.
I must thank a teacher in my district, Casey Ellisor, for a comment that he made during a recent presentation. He said that he had tried hard to make the iPod Touch work in his curriculum but that he just couldn’t force it to fit into all of his class activities. He did discover a great use for the tool, but the lesson that he learned is that you can’t force a particular technology to work in every situation.
The newest device that I’ve been exploring is the Chrome OS CR-48. I was fortunate to receive one this spring, and I’ve seen a lot of interest when I bring it into meetings. I am incredibly happy with the notebook now that the OS has been upgraded to include file storage. I’m able to upload files to the cloud from my flash drive, and I have offline storage if needed. I can see myself continuing to use a Chromebook for personal and professional work.
As I wait for the next great device to come out, I believe that we have to be open minded to the possibility that we’ll never have the perfect device. We need to evaluate our needs and then select the best available device to meet those needs. Our classrooms can and should have a variety of tools available for students to use as they work in and out of the classroom. I look forward to continuing conversations with other educators about the tools that they are using in their classrooms. We’ll never agree on one best device, and that’s a good thing since our needs are constantly evolving.