Experts Should Get to Choose The Tools They Use

I prefer Android phone over iPhone but iPad over Android tablets. I like to use a Mac laptop at home but couldn’t imagine working with one. No, PC it has to be for me.

All professionals, also teachers, should have a say on the tools they use for working. And the tool is to be understood broadly here. For teachers it includes computers, tablets, whiteboards, and other classroom infrastructure, but also—and at least as importantly—educational content.

Auction gavel

Lately I’ve seen some disturbing signals of the decision making related to teaching tools slipping away from teachers. Most often this comes in the form of tenders, where a bigger unit than class or school is served with some uniform offering. These don’t always go as in Strömsö, as we say in Finland. The latest blunder comes from the $1 billion(!) iPad contract of the LA Unified School District.

It is not easy to predict the total long term impact a big tender has. Immediate cost savings are easy to calculate, but the effects it has on actual teaching and learning are more difficult. A tender is always a compromise and cannot take into account everyone’s personal preferences.

Finally, I suspect that there will in any case be more tenders in the future. If and when this happens, it is extremely important that the experts get to be carefully heard. There should be enough teachers in each evaluation board of each tender. They know what they want to use in teaching, they know better than anyone what works and what not.

Flickr image CC credits: toridawnrector

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