Too Many Choices???

I watched the video Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz.  The author explains in the video how our society lives with the abundance of choice.  He shares how we have many choices with everything we do in our lives from grocery shopping to using technology.  It was an interesting to hear his comments and I do agree with his comments about how hard it is to make decisions when there is so many options.

As I watched to video,  I thought about the choices educators have to make when creating and planning learning experiences for their students.  There are many options for teachers to use as resources, especially in the technology field.  My colleague had posted some great comments and a video that shares information about the changes that are  happening with technology in our society.  In the video it states that every year technology information is doubling, which is huge!  As a future educator, that comment scares me a little.  Currently, there are many choices of  technology programs, resources and information to use, which  many teachers have only started to place in their classrooms.  Like in the video, sometimes having too many choices makes it difficult to make decisions.

I can honestly see why teachers struggle to incorporate technology into the classroom when there is an abundance of options.   How do you know what is best to use with your students?  How much technology should be incorporated into their education?  It is an important role for a teacher to have the knowledge to make decisions on incorporating new information into lesson plans, yet with all the changes how can a teacher feel confident to make these choices? Who can we ask for help for on making these decisions? I think what often happens is that a teacher finds it easier to not make the choice and leaves out using technology in fear of making the wrong choice.  I do believe that having options is better than no choice at all, but I do see the concerns and frustrations of knowing how and what types of technology to use in the classroom.  I think that a key to using  technology is building support teams and finding resources that will help you be confident in making decisions.  I hope for my future that schools will provide more supports for teachers and information to teach them about the good resources for their classrooms.

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12 responses to “Too Many Choices???

  1. One option would be to keep it open and let the students decide on the technology they are going to integrate to demonstrate learning. Too often teachers balk at things because they feel they have to know everything about it before the students do.

  2. In the book he goes further: 1) Those who need the very best find the most frustration making a decision. Those willing to stop once the need is fulfilled feel betters. 2) Introducing more information (variables) makes choices more difficult. 3) The anticipated amplitude to an experience is greater than the reflection on that experience. So people think if they can make the right choice, then everything will be great when in reality it will be a little better for a short while but a new standard for what is appropriate is established.

    Another couple books along similar lines:
    1) The Long Tail – The trick to abundance is tools for helping people find what they want more easily and not deal with looking at each option one-by-one.
    2) Blink – We assess people and things very quickly. However, putting those assessments into descriptions can be hard.

  3. Hi, Krystal,

    As a classroom teacher I have also struggled with choices. My advice is this, decide what is the best tool for the task. If technology lends itself to the project or activity, then use it. Don’t feel obligated to push technology into a project if it isn’t the right tool for the job. That being said, I have a blast using technology in the classroom (3rd grade). Unfortunately I am unique in my district, so I heavily rely on my PLN (twitter, plurk, facebook…) for ideas, suggestions, and support. The nice thing about a PLN is that your support is always with you.

  4. Katie Warren (Techy Nana)

    I, too, had questions as to what software/program would work in my first grade classroom. Technology was so new and risk takers who saw the future wanted it. I attended CUE and regional CUE conferences trying to find the right choice. Though I was tentatively entering the fold, I found KidWorks 2 (now KidWorks Deluxe) and decided to try using it with my students. My adventure resulted in my Master’s thesis “Easing the Computer into the Primary Classroom”. I wrote it for those teachers who wanted to use technology but didn’t know how to begin. I’ve never looked back and now teach teachers how to integrate technology – it really can be done!

  5. I don’t know your context (eg. what subjects you teach and at what level), but there should be some sort of support for edtech in your organization. It may not be a formal elearing support person, it just may be that one teacher who is tech-oriented. I will say, you’ve already started on the road to knowing what will work and what won’t – you’re starting to play with it, read about it and think about it.

    Unfortunately, no one other than you can answer whether or not a tool is right for your class (you know them better than anyone else). I guess that it comes down to having the confidence to try out a piece of technology and be willing to maybe fail, but maybe succeed.

    I guess I would advise you to make connections, ask questions, experiment and think about how you can do things. Good luck!

  6. These are great questions!

    I teach at the university level, but what I have found works for me is to begin with the learning goals for that class and then to figure out the best strategy to achieve them. There are really no wrong choices. You try something, you see how it works, if yes, you’ve got a new tool. If it doesn’t work too well, you’ve learned something. Just jump in and try whatever you’re most drawn to.

  7. Perhaps it is a question of where to start. If we start by looking at the choices themselves, it is easy to get overwhelmed. I was taught by my mentors that technology is for solving problems. If I identify first what I want in general (not technological) terms, it becomes easier to navigate the choices, and select the right tool.

    This is known in some circles as the “pedagogy first” approach, and many fine minds disagree, saying that the technology shows us new ways of doing things, not just new ways to do old things. I agree, but for a novice, or a teacher faced with a zillion tools, solving a problem answers a need, which is more motivating than wading into a sea of choices.. So I disagree that the answer is finding resources and support teams. It’s figuring out what the need is, then looking to fulfill it.

  8. I have found that schools and school districts are behind the times when it comes to technology in the classroom. To answer your concern, I feel it is important first of all to know what technology your students have access to at home. Next, what are they doing with the technology they have at home? What do they know? What can they do? How would they feel about responding to school online using wikis, blogs, social networking, websites, etc.

    Because of the nature of what I teach, my students want to do it all, but we are limited by what the district blocks or does not block!

  9. I’ve been teaching for seven years now. I am a computer teacher for grades Kindergarten to eighth in the United States (in New Jersey). My best suggestion is to try one thing a year or a marking period. Before you know it, you will have many tried and true choices for your students. The trick is to not get overwhelmed by the choices. Pick one, do the best you can with your students, reflect on the lessons you learned, and decide if you want to keep this type of technology, modify it, or just say it doesn’t work for you.

  10. While attending EduCon2.1 this past weekend, I was asking about how they stream the sessions. They made a choice to use Mogulus over Ustream this year.
    I’m in the habit of creating an account for every new site/app that comes out, but filtering through them to find my best workflow.
    Sometimes, it’s easiest to use what your peers/colleagues are using, but we can’t be afraid to try something new every once in awhile.

  11. Cathy Wolinsky

    Even though I have been using technology in classrooms for 25 years I still face the question you raise. I blogged about this recently at http://yestech.edublogs.org/2009/01/03/how-to-choose-how-to-choose/. Good luck with your choicemaking!

  12. Thanks Lori for the advice. I agree that it is important not to push things into a lesson, especially if it does not fit right. I think that technology is fun and exciting for students and teachers to use in the classroom, but there is learning process for both partners. I am slowly starting to build my PLN and it is really useful. I just started using twitter last week and already have many valuable supports. I hope this is only a start to my learning and exploration of using technology in the classroom 😀

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