Do a Few Things Well

This is a cross post from my personal blog at


As a technology leader in my school (and in my school district), I find myself a little overwhelmed with all of the technology tools which are available to us. Just when I think I have a good understanding of the tools which are available, I read about something new.
I am starting to notice that many of the web 2.0 tools duplicate the functionality of other tools. For example, I was recently reading about Edmodo and I was quite impressed by what I learned. As I learned more about Edmodo, I realized that the Sharepoint Virtual Classrooms that we use in our school district could do virtually the same thing as Edmodo. Don’t get me wrong, I am certainly not bashing Edmodo…I think it is brilliant…even more so now that they have added Google Docs.
Anyway, back to my main point. I shouldn’t feel bad about not using every tool which comes along. I think what I need to realize is that it is ok to use a few tools…and use them well. When something else comes along…take a look…is it better than what I use? Can I enhance what I already use?
This makes me think about a tradesman who has a box of tools…he will only replace a tool if it is broken or if one comes out that makes his job easier…and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg! Very few carpenters use hammers any more. Why? Because air nailers are faster, more accurate, and affordable.
I have always prided myself on being a “jack of all trades” …even when it comes to technology. But, at the rate that new things are being discovered, there is no way I will be able to know it all. The key has become knowing where to go to help people find their own solutions. Also, it is important to be a learner and know what is out there, even if you have no intention of using it. For example, I don’t use “Dropbox” but I understand how it works….and, more importantly, I know some people who use it religiously so I can direct any questions that I may get to that person.
What are your thoughts?







10 comments for “Do a Few Things Well

  1. March 20, 2012 at 11:18 am

    I have practiced exactly what you are talking about for years. There are all sorts of “niche” programs or applications whose functions can be accomplished with the larger, more robust program you have already mastered. I would much rather go a mile wide with one program than an inch deep with 100.

    • March 20, 2012 at 12:48 pm

      Hi Frank,
      Thanks for the comment. I love your 100 miles wide analogy…very appropriate.

  2. Michael Brownstein
    March 20, 2012 at 11:50 am

    In my school district we talk about relative advantage when deciding which tool best meets the needs of any given situation. This could involve many variables including cost, ease, and features.

    • March 20, 2012 at 12:50 pm

      Hi Michael,
      Thanks for reading and commenting on my post. Relative advantage…I like that. That concept could apply to more than tech tools. Great wisdom.

  3. March 20, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    I agree. I write a blog about educational technology,, so I am always trying new things out and know what’s new out there, but I have a core group of tools and resources that I use for most things.

    I use Evernote and Google’s many resources for most of what I do. I do use other resources for certain things, but I have made sure that I am proficient in the use of a few tools to do most of what I need done. As I find new tools, I sometimes end up using them with my classes, or at least sharing them with my classes and other teachers.

    When I present at conferences or facilitate professional development, I give people the same advice. Pick one or two tools, get good at them, and use them regularly. Then, you can look into other tools as your time allows.

    • March 21, 2012 at 3:49 am

      Hi Dave,
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your expertise. Great blog BTW.

  4. March 20, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    I think it’s important for leaders like you to develop systems that respond to the evolving nature of tech tools and education in general. I believe the systems should have room for professional and student voice, learning, ideas and innovation. At the center of decisions should be a central focus on what helps students learn in engaging, meaningful ways for best effect. Also, usually when a tool is “clunky” it doesn’t last and teachers/students won’t be satisfied with its result. Fluid, responsive tools that invigorate learning in meaningful, relevant, efficient and enjoyable ways will be embraced.

    • March 21, 2012 at 3:52 am

      Thanks Maureen,
      You have eloquently captured the importance of this idea. We have to always remember why we do what we do…for the students and their learning.

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