Learning technologies — like any other tool — can be put to good or wrong purposes. Often we put a tool to “wrong” purposes when we use that tool in ways that don’t match its natural affordances.
I like the analogy of a pencil: it’s a great tool for writing on paper, but not such a good tool for punching holes into paper — although I can recall using it for such purposes back when paper was popular ;-).
To be sure, you can punch holes into paper with a pencil, but those holes are apt to be ragged and misaligned. That’s an example of a technology being extended beyond the affordances of its design, beyond its purpose.
We understand tools to be utilitarian objects created and applied to problem-solving. The history of human innovation is not the result of invention for its own sake, to discover appropriate uses later, but invention for the sake of specific problem-solving activities.
We must approach learning technologies this way too.
Like the pencil punching, we too often try to shoehorn learning technology into places it doesn’t fit well.
Ask yourself: what problem am I trying to solve? What are the action possibilities of the tool? How can we use lit to mitigate learning problems? Facilitate group learning? Enhance or enrich an individual learning experience?
Put to purpose, learning technologies help us in one or more of the AAA learning tools categories:
- ACCESS: for just-in-time learning and information retrieval
- ASSISTANCE: for performance support and augmented communication tools
- ADAPTIVE: for personalization, individual pathways, targeted remediation, and accommodations for people with disabilities or learning differences.