I attended Edcamp Harrisburg a while back but haven’t had a chance to share my reflections, so here-goes. One of my favorite sessions was run by my friend, Chris Champion and was entitled Doing Things Differently vs Doing Different Things. It was an important conversation about how and why we use technology in our classrooms.

Chris did a great job moderating the conversation, too. It was conversational and while Chris led the discussion, he also laid back (in true edcamp style!) and let the participants discuss and share ideas.

Here is a gist of the conversation. Basically, we proposed how technology allows us to do things differently and then challenged each other to come up with ways that we could do different things with the same technology.

It is vital that those educators who are passionate about brining technology into our classrooms evaluate whether that technology is actually helping us do different things in our classrooms rather than just making what we’ve always done easier or just a bit different.

These are the notes from the session discussion, though I would argue that there is a lot here to examine further. What would you add?

Doing Things Differently Doing Different Things
  • Word Processing
  • Collaborative writing in real time
  • “Blogging” reflections (just for teacher or w/out community
  • Students comment/real audience
  • Online Quiz with immediate feedback
  • Adaptive questions/testing
  • Interactive Whiteboards
  • Manipulative, simulations that require student interaction
  • Interactive video responses
  • Flipped Classroom model
  • driving differentiated instruction and also completing a project or interactive assignment at home w/support for what you didn’t get while you’re at school
  • Presentations
  • immediate feedback (polls/clickers), webinars with chat, microphones and break out rooms
  • Videoconferencing
  • Backchannel

  4 Responses to “Doing Things Differently vs Doing Different Things”

  1. I can’t take credit for the concept – it is actually an idea that Dr. David Thornburg talks about in his books and speaking engagements. Here’s a story on PBS’s Teacherline website that explains the concept in his own words:


  2. […]  The Flipped Classroom: Pro and Con…”I am often brought back to the question: “Are we doing things differently or doing different things?” As educators around the globe try to flip their class, it’s an important thing to […]

  3. I recently read about Dr. David Thornburg’s concept of doing things differently vs. doing different things.
    Thank you for the chart comparing different things vs. doing things differently. I found it very useful however, I am not familiar with Backchannel. Could you explain Blackchannel and how it is used to do different things?

    • Jesse,

      A backchannel is a conversation that goes on as a layer underneath the face to face conversation or event. For instance, using an online chatting service like Today’s Meet or even a hashtag on Twitter, people can discuss their thoughts on a keynote, a movie or a panel discussion without disturbing the flow of them. It adds a layer of depth to the event.

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