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Finding the Right Tools for Your Classroom's Tech Needs
A Review of Educational Duct Tape by Jake Miller

By Georgia Konstantinou / January 2023

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If you are a brand-new educator just stepping into a classroom, Educational Duct Tape: An Edtech Integration Mindset (Elevate Books Edu., 2021) is for you. This book is also for you if you are an experienced educator who has traveled a long way and survived the educational technology explosion of the pandemic. Jake Miller, an 8th-grade science teacher, an educational technologist, and a podcaster, succeeded in writing a book for all teachers. With Educational Duct Tape, he accomplishes this in an exciting and captivating manner.

In a landscape of forever-evolving technologies, he sets forth to help educators choose the tools that will help them effectively integrate technology in their classrooms. Building off his personal and professional experiences he describes how he grew as a teacher and technology user and changed his teaching style to fit the needs of his students. By the end of the book, and after reading so much about his life, readers are left not only with a plethora of educational technology tools for their classroom but also with the feeling that Miller is their friend. He writes so skillfully that we forget we are reading a technical book. With its directness and constant questions at the end of each chapter, the interactivity of the text, prompts us to evaluate what we have learned, reflect on, and consider how we can use it in our own classroom.

From the first pages, Miller highlights something that all educators know: Technology is constantly evolving. What is now a trend and hype might be outdated or replaced with something else in a year or two. So, through his book, he focuses on how to use the available technology to solve current classroom challenges. He continually reminds the reader of Dr. Maya Angelou's famous quote, "Do the best you can until you know better. Do better when you know better."

In each chapter, he shares tools for different purposes: creating bite-sized instruction, formative assessment, self-assessment, video creation, screencasting, blogging, etc. Miller grounds his recommendations on current research, theory, and evidence-based pedagogical practices. He especially highlights how John Hattie's Visible Learning (Routledge, 2008) has influenced his own work. He connects various assessment technologies, such as Kahoot! and Quizlet, to the importance of self-assessment because their auto-grading features allow students to identify their errors and improve. Additionally, he links Csikszentmihalyi's flow theory to video creation tools.  Flow theory posits that when someone is actively engaged in an activity, they approach an ideal state of experience known as the “flow.” Miller constantly emphasizes that educational technology should be employed as a tool to solve a problem, accomplish a goal, or address a learning objective, not as the lesson's purpose.

Educational Duct Tape is based on Miller’s research of all these different tools where he identifies the advantages and disadvantages, capabilities, features, and limitations. He explains what the free and paid versions can do, compares them with each other, and advises us on how to use them effectively in our classroom. His suggestions consider several factors, such as pricing, audience suitability, tool features, and ease of use. So, he has done all the hard work for us, we just have to read through and decide what to implement. In addition, at the end of each chapter, there is a section in which Miller answers a technical question. For example, “How can I create bite-sized instructions for my students?” If the readers are not interested in the question, they may skip to the next chapter. These sections are also connected to online resource hubs that are constantly updated with relevant video tutorials, additional tools, modifications of the tools mentioned in the chapters, and discussion areas. Finally, the book is also linked to podcasts in which inspiring educators assist Miller in answering "teacher questions" with amazing ideas for integrating technology in the classroom.

Educational Duct Tape is not a book you read from cover to cover, but it is also not a book you read only once. It is one of those books for when you might skim over a section and then go back to find it when needed. It is not a theoretical book, but it does link every educational tool to a theoretical foundation.

Further Reading

Csikszentmihalyi. Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. Journal of Leisure Research 24, 1 (1990), 93–94.

Hattie. Visible Learning. Routledge, 2008.

Miller. Educational Duct Tape: An EdTech Integration Mindset. Elevate Books Edu., 2021.

About the Author

Georgia Konstantinou is the principal and technology coordinator of a Greek language school in New York. She holds a B.A. and an M.A .in history and an M.S. in educational technology. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in educational technology at Boise State University. She has taught history and Greek (ancient and modern) for more than 20 years in both public and private schools, as well as college-level computer science courses. Her research interests include instructional games, simulations, gamification, game-based learning, quest-based learning, distance learning, and online learning.

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  • Tue, 08 Aug 2023
    Post by Johir

    helpful article