Tech Tool Fatigue Syndrome (#TTFS): Do you have it?
Anyone involved in the field of educational technology has probably run across headlines like this: “7 Tools That Will Change Education” or “10 Educational Apps Every Teacher Should Have”. I see them on Twitter almost every day. In fact, I maintain an ever-growing spreadsheet to track interesting new education tools. By the time I’ve reviewed one “Top 10” tool list, I’ve added another 10 tools to my spreadsheet. This is a new phenomenon in #EdTech that we at AP sometimes refer to as Tech Tool Fatigue Syndrome (#TTFS). Symptoms of TTFS include a constant feeling of being overwhelmed by endless lists of tools, occasional bouts of delirium when trying
to remember logins for all your trial accounts, and general malaise at the prospect of never having sufficient time to investigate or test out all the intriguing new tools. While there is no known cure for Tech Tool Fatigue Syndrome, here are some ways to cope with the problem.
First, consider the source that is generating the latest “Top 10” list of tech tools that you absolutely “can’t live without” and determine the reliability of that source. Have you heard of the source before? Considering your information source is a fundamental part of media literacy. Have you gained helpful information from previous articles this source has posted? If so, this particular list of tools may be worth checking out. If not, maybe put it on the back burner and go on with your work (investigating all these tools can prevent you from accomplishing important tasks).
One way I cope with tool fatigue is to categorize interesting tools. For example, how many screen-casting or mobile whiteboard apps do you actually need? If you run across a tool that claims to be the “next big thing” in terms of mobile whiteboards, compare its capabilities to those that you already have on your list. Unless it’s drastically better, keep on moving.
Third, rely on lists that provide information that can help you identify whether the tool would be appropriate to a user like you. For example, does the list provide contextual information about usability, comparative features and benefits, or other characteristics that can help you prioritize.
The best coping strategy of all is to come to terms with the fact that technology will always present new tools and you simply can’t research all of them no matter how hard you try; there are not enough hours in the day. Once you’ve compiled your running list and have your tools categorized, spend some time researching them and determining which ones can be eliminated from your list. Ask your peers or colleagues which tools they’ve heard of (or better yet used) in their classes and get their insight. While you are spending this time researching the tools you already have on your list, yes, some cool new tools may slip by. But remember, the cream always rises to the top, so if it’s truly the next best thing, you’ll hear about it soon enough.