Pedagogy First, Technology Second: How to Choose the Right Tool for the Job

Opening Keynote: Sarah Robbins
Pedagogy First, Technology Second: How to Choose the Right Tool for the Job

Today’s educators are inundated with technology options. In addition to the tools made available on campus, we are also faced with reacting to the wide variety of technology that students bring to the classroom. Though it’s true that learning objectives and sound pedagogy take precedence over adding technology to a course, the sheer speed at which tools advance can make it difficult for educators to know whether or not there are technologies that could assist or improve their courses while maintaining sound pedagogical practices.

In this presentation I will argue that there is an easier way to understand new technologies and quickly assess their learning value for a specific application. Using Activity Theory and Genre Ecology Models we will learn that if we cook a tool down to simple communication mechanics we can quickly understand how that tool can or can’t contribute to the learning objectives in a given course. Attendees will leave with an understanding of the approach ready to apply it to the next new tool they encounter.


  1. Here is a link to the slides Sarah used in her Keynote

  2. Kirk McDermid says:

    It would be cool if we could pool our evaluations of potential tech on a wiki or blog somewhere, so that we aren’t doing this all by our lonesomes. Not that I’m volunteering… actually hoping someone might be able to post a link to where that’s already being done. 🙂

  3. Intellagirl says:

    I agree! I’ve been looking for a wiki-like tool that can use a table/spreadsheet/form for contributions for a while now. Unfortunately, most wiki markup makes tables difficult for most average users. Maybe an epic open google spreadsheet?

    • Kirk McDermid says:

      Aha! I have learned… stuff. That might help here. I’m currently exploring a wiki that has database functionality – better than ‘just’ spreadsheet/table stuff. And, it has easy-peasy data entry capability too because it uses forms to prompt for user data. Check it out at – it’s called “Semantic Mediawiki with Semantic Forms”.

      I’m using it/testing it for a course of mine – browse the glory at


  4. Why not build a simple Drupal site with a form to collect the data and then present it in tabular form. It could be fully searchable, allow for ratings of tools and pedagogies and provide a means for comments or best practices of each tool. Just a thought 🙂

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