One of the best lessons I received from my Masters in Education studies was a simple, straightforward comment from one of my professors. Dr. Gallo was technologically savvy. He not only guided the minds of the educators who were learning about the effective use of technology in the classroom, but he setup and supported the campus email server, network and student accounts. Given his strong penchant for technology, you would expect him to consistently find the "shiny nickel in the technology corner." However, he had a strong balanced view of technology and stated, "Remember, technology is not your friend; it's just a tool."
I was reminded of this when I read Paul Barnwell's post on Education Week Teacher titled, "Why Twitter and Facebook Are Not Good Instructional Tools." Nice provocative title, right? Through some honest admission, Paul recounts some of his trials with "shiny nickels" in his lessons. He recommends a sober approach of applying the right technology tool to the instructional design, promoting opportunities for higher levels of thinking, not just momentary engagement. That's the key, right? It's not just about getting the kids engaged through the use of technology; it's about finding that blend between using technology as an equalizer and enabler for different levels of students and for higher levels of engagement and thought in the learning event.
If you take the time to click on the link and read Paul's post, please also take a moment to read through the comments. I particularly liked the comment by EPlybon suggesting that what Paul's post "really reveals isn't evidence against using social media in your classroom, but is more of a confession that you once used technology in a meaningless way, but have learned to be more discriminatory when planning lessons."
See what you think.