How Do We Educate Students in a way that is not Tech Tool Specific?

The announcement, this week, that Aviary will close its advanced suite on September 15, prompted me to think about bigger questions in educational technology. For those who don’t know, Aviary’s advanced suite was a powerful collection of free image and audio editing web tools. We all get excited about a good app – myself included- but this announcement got me thinking. At his excellent blog, Richard Byrne said he could not initially think of any suggestions of replacement apps, and that is with his encyclopedic knowledge of educational technology.

So, how do we educate students in a way that is not tool specific? This is not the first or last time something we use will disappear. If we are not teaching specific tools, what are our real goals?

Some of the commenters on the post from Freetech4teachers said they were disappointed because they planned on using the Aviary suite with students this year. Another person said it best, “change is inevitable.” One of the only disadvantages to cloud-based computing for users is that things can and will just disappear. With local software, once it is installed, you can continue to use it even if the developers stop supporting it.

Students need to be able to read write and discuss things only in a respectful way. Students need to be able to navigate the web with a critical eye, evaluating web pages for safety and relevance. Students also need to be independent in the same way we want them to be for research projects; they need to know where to find tools and how to choose the best ones to fit their needs. We need web-savvy students.

I am one of those disappointed educators who was looking forward to trying these tools out with my students this year. But, this served as a good reminder that in the upcoming school year that I need to help kids become tech-savvy rather than app experts.


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