During the last few weeks, I’ve had several conversations with various individuals about the role of technology-based tools in instructional design. Each of these conversations reached a similar consensus: Tools are just that—tools!
They’re not the main attraction. Instead of getting hung up on the possibilities and limitations of an ever-expanding tool set, we need to focus back in on our learners. What are their needs? What are their challenges? What do they want to learn? What are their motivational characteristics? Is there a specific learning outcome that they need / want to achieve?
Once we’ve answered these questions, then we can go back to our tool set and take a critical look. Is there an existing tool that will help us achieve the established learning outcomes? Are there tools that might be intuitive to our learners? If not, can we “break” the tool and use it in a way it may not have initially been intended?
These questions are mainly rhetorical in nature, but they do raise a point for each of us. In our quest to increase our tool set, let’s not forget our learners. After all, a tool is just a tool until it’s put into the right hands!