By Connie Rivera

Available technology tools are constantly changing and increasing. How do we know which ones are the best ones to use? Well, if our focus is on keeping up-to-date with every tool, we soon feel like we cannot possibly keep up. We feel like times are changing and leaving us behind. In my adult math instruction, I focus on why to, not just how to. I should be doing the same thing with technology. Why we need the tools is more important than which tool we choose and how to use it. The tools we use will change many times. What we need is a goal to keep us focused – What are we looking for?

How I use technology professionally could be described mundanely: find good ideas and keep the inspirations handy. Until I watched a keynote by Dan Meyer, I didn’t think of creating a mission statement to describe my purpose for using technology – my why to. Now I see that my statement more describes my actions than it does my goal. Mr. Meyer offers to lend us his Educational Technology Mission Statement until we develop one of our own:


  1. Capture Perplexity
  2. Share Perplexity
  3. Resolve Perplexity

Perplexity is something a student:

  • does not already know,
  • wants to know, and
  • believes is within his or her power to know.

A great number of tools can help us accomplish each aspect of our own mission statement. Our mission statement helps keep us focused on our goal for the tools, not on the tools themselves. The tools themselves are only the how to. With a guiding purpose, we will not feel as overwhelmed.

This post is the first part of a 5-post series based on the work of Dan Meyer, well-known for his use of technology to help people develop a conceptual curiosity for math. His work is relevant for traditional students, adult students, and teachers.  

Connie Rivera is a teacher of adult basic skills and high school equivalency preparation. She is also a math consultant, providing math strategies and support to programs implementing the College and Career Readiness (CCR) Standards for Adult Education. Connie is currently the President Elect of the Adult Numeracy Network (ANN), the adult affiliate of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM).

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