Feeling FOOLED? Why it (mostly) doesn’t matter which devices your school has

Four elementary school students using digital tablets in a classroom

Everyone knows what FOMO is – the fear of missing out, that persistent anxiety that there’s really cool, important stuff happening somewhere other than where you are. They say FOMO is a symptom of our technology-saturated, hyper-connected world, where the ability to swipe-right encourages us to sample obsessively and focus with regret.

There’s a particular strain of this disorder that afflicts educators, especially those attempting to innovate with technology in schools. I hereby dub this ailment FOOLED – Fear of Owning Lame Electronic Devices.

FOOLED is when your technology planning committee is deadlocked due to a months-long duke-out between the “never Chromebooks” and “never tablets” camps.

FOOLED is when your brainstorm about bringing social studies to life with community data gathering, video clips, and a kid-made version of the CNN wall fizzles because you figure the circa 2010 laptops on your class cart couldn’t possibly be up to the task.

FOOLED is when your school scraps its BYOD or BYOD-Plus program because the school-supplied devices are so much less sexy and shiny than what the most privileged kids bring in.

FOOLED is when you have a recurring nightmare about opening the door to “the closet” – that mythical place where classroom teachers stash the technology (horrifyingly in its original packaging) they never could quite figure out what to do with.

Here’s the good news: In 2016, it almost doesn’t matter what kinds of technology devices you are using at your school. As long as a device can connect to the Internet and doesn’t pose a safety risk for users (you know, no chewed-up power cords, and no errant porn clips on the hard drive), you can find a good use for it at your school. Mixing and matching and making it work – repurposing older technology in schools while very strategically adding new – is a virtue in a world overrun with discarded electronics.

In the end, a device’s format, brand, and even vintage mean much less than how it might be used from an instructional point of view. Check out our How to Separate the Tools from the Toys checklist to focus in on function rather than form. And when your team is ready to move toward real transformation, take a look at the Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition pathway.

Once you’re mulling the right questions, you’ll experience immediate relief from that sinking FOOLED feeling.


About the Author
Mickey Revenaugh

Mickey Revenaugh

Mickey Revenaugh is co-founder and executive vice president of Connections Education, as well as board chair for iNACOL, the International Association for K-12 Online Learning. She has been fighting FOOLED in educational technology circles for more than 30 years.