2023-11-29 20:55

Kobus van Wyk

First the problem … then the tool!

The e-pioneer avoids toolishness.

The word toolishness is used to describe a fondness of tools that transcends purpose and utility.

While encouraging teachers to use technology, e-pioneers are careful not to promote toolishness.

When a teacher takes learners into a state of the art computer laboratory but only allows the learners to read information from a screen – which they can read from a textbook – it is toolishness.   The e-pioneer must rather support teachers to use the power of technology to help learners develop fact-gathering, analysis and synthesis skills required for twenty-first century living.

Sophisticated educational software programmes are installed in many schools – but many of them are never used. These products are often procured because they are imagined to be a solution to the learning needs at the school. Subsequent experience proves that simpler products yield similar or better results.  Teachers must be warned about this form of toolishness.

Interactive electronic whiteboards are wonderful teaching tools, but if they are used only to project images, a data projector would have sufficed. Why go to the trouble of acquiring an expensive piece of technology if a simpler tool serves the purpose?

The e-pioneer helps teachers to identify educational problems first and then to select the most appropriate tools to solve them, rather than to purchase a tool and then trying to find a problem that can be solved by it.

Click here for more food for thought for e-pioneers.


  1. First the problem… then the tool… then the training!

    Even when a superb tool exists, that perfectly meets a need, there is the possibility that the problem will not be solved because the tool is not well-used.

    Training needs to be ongoing. This is a slow, labour-intensive task that needs lots of patience and tenacity and should never be short-term in a trail-blazing environment.

  2. I have expereinced it time again and again …. training need to be not really “slow”, but less in content with more intense sessions.

    Further, the tools (EIAWB) can also be “smaller” in size – thus easier to handle and to be moved from classroom to classroom – take your “educational toolbox + software” with you on your eduational cyberspace highway !! Why not ?

    The EIAWB “hardware tool” must be able to handle all software packages and even “be allowed” to use other “EAIWB hardware tools” with their “tools”. Why not ?

    Albie for a wide vaiety of applicable hardware EIAWB tools.

  3. Designing lessons for learning may be a challenge, but should not be regarded as a “problem”. As an educational technologist, my goal is to encourage my fellow teachers to see the affordances of the tools that are available in order for them to choose the best tool to foster learning for their students. Each tech tool offers different affordances. Sometimes the so-called added value of the interactive tools of the IWB is not worth the learning gains or effort to include them when the projected multimedia learning object is enough to transmit the intended objective of the lesson. Teachers should be given the opportunity to make that decision for themselves.

    In my experience, there are times when the technology gets in the way of the learning. We need to encourage teachers to be discerning of the readiness and needs of their learners in order to make the best choices as they grow their understanding of the place of technology in their classrooms.

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