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Friday, April 09, 2010

Answering the Question: How Do We Keep Up

This Month's ASTD Big Question is simple and complex--"How do we keep up?"

Being in the field of instructional technology and teaching it to others--my students, consulting clients and others--it can be a real struggle to make sure I am on the cutting edge of what is happening.

I employ five methods to try to stay on top of things:

1) Listen to my students, clients and members in the blogsosphere. Listen to what is going on with technology. My students have encouraged me to blog (way back when), taught me about software like ThinkingWorlds and have encouraged me to check out new things. Sometimes it is exciting and interesting, other times I don't see the value of the tool but I always try to take a look and have them explain to me what it is about the technology that is interesting. I listen to my clients who have encouraged me to check out things like ProtoSphere way back when and even explore elements of educational games and simulations. And I learned of Second Life and Twitter through my interactions within the blogsophere. I always keep one ear on the blogosphere to learn of the chatter about new and exiting things.

2) Tryout new technologies whenever possible. I agree with some of the other respondents to this question: Basically most software fits into certain categories. It is critical to understand those categories and consider new entries into the field via categories (while, of course, being open to software that may cross categories). But categorization helps make sense of the dozens of tools that are released every day it seems.

3) Give yourself permission to "miss something." Even if I could spend 24/7 on the internet exploring new technology, I could never follow everything and that's ok. If it is really useful or will bubble to the surface. If it has legs, people will use it and find value in it and then I'll learn about it and adopt. For example, Google's Wave was all the rage a while back and, while it is interesting, I am not that engaged with it. It really hasn't taken off like Twitter or other tools. It will re-surface at some point but for now, I am aware of it, have used it but it isn't part of my daily routine.

4) Focus on the core fundamentals of how people learn! No matter if you send a Tweet, post a course nugget on Facebook or enter into a 3D role-play, none if it works if the underlying instructional strategies are not there. I always look at a new technology in terms of what instructional strategies can be leveraged with the technology. Instructional strategies come first and technology second.

5) Take it all in with a grain of salt. We need to remember that sometimes keeping up with the latest technology is not all its cracked up to be as the enlightened video below shows us. If we can't laugh at ourselves or step back from all this every once in a while...we are in trouble.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
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