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Eight low-tech tools with metaphorical value

March 6, 2015

folding tableIn a recent blog post my friend Derek Bruff at Vanderbilt wrote that his favorite classroom technology is “wheels on chairs.” That metaphorical comment got me thinking: some people seem to believe only the newest tools can be used creatively or be truly effective. “The old tools have been around so long that we must have come up with all of the good ways to use them ages ago — and those techniques can’t possibly be modern enough to be effective.” Maybe they’re not as sexy, but some tools that are old (like me, I hope) can still be very useful.

Below are several classroom tools don’t require a power cord and yet have very practical value. Some also suggest metaphorical food for thought, along with a few tongue-in-cheek quips.

  1. Chair with wheels – move it around and match your seat configuration to what students are doing (we’re not supposed to lecture all the time?)
  2. Fold-away table – set it aside for breathing room or open it up to facilitate student writing or “making” (aren’t they supposed to do that stuff before class?)
  3. CrayonTest1Post-it note – get everyone involved in brainstorming (I’m not supposed to provide all of the original ideas?)
  4. Window – let in some fresh air
  5. Shades – pull them up and take a look at what’s happening in RL (academia is not real life?)
  6. Door – open at the beginning to include all kinds of people and ideas (doesn’t that just make everything messy?)
  7. Waste basket – failure is okay (aren’t we supposed to get everything right the first time?)
  8. Crayon – creativity can be wonderful (don’t students want everything to be black and white?)

Does that make any sense? Did I miss anything good?
How about a metaphor for portable white boards, books, chalk, or flip charts?

[Image credits: Crayon Test 1 by Paul Stein, table photo by Chris Clark]

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Gwynn Mettetal permalink
    March 10, 2015 9:02 am

    My favorite is flip chart paper (esp. the post-it note type that clings) and colored markers for group work.

  2. Kristin Lewis permalink
    March 8, 2015 5:15 pm

    I don’t have a clever metaphor, but I am a big fan of old school technology.

  3. March 6, 2015 5:52 pm

    Movable tables.

  4. Mandy McGrew permalink
    March 6, 2015 1:37 pm

    How about using a pencil with an eraser when writing? When we make edits on paper with pencil the evidence of our work is visible, but when we edit text on screen, it looks as if our final copy was our first and doesn’t show the amount of trial and error we went through to get to that final draft.


  1. Consider Low-Tech Tools for Teaching | Better Learning Through Technology

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