Wednesday, June 29, 2011

It's not about the tools

In order to use technology effectively, an educational technologist needs to show others how to use tools to accomplish the objectives of the lesson, the unit, or the curriculum. Dr. Thornburg reminds of us a time when the blackboard was a revolutionary technology. He stresses that it is not the technology that makes a difference, but the mind-set of the one using the technology. It is not the tool itself but the pedagogy, or the art of teaching. As I have heard many others say, it is not about the tools it is about the content. Silvia Tolisano referred to this very subject in her blog post, "It's Not About the Tools. It's About the Skills."
Chris Lehmann also refers to the importance of the pedagogy over the tools when he says "active, engaged, constructivist learning will lead to active, engaged students" in his post about technology and pedagogy. Chris is the principal of Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia where the yearly Educon conference is hosted.
Dr. Thornburg emphasized that we need a historical perspective in order accurately predict the future. This is part of the mind-set of which he speaks. Rather than forsaking all that has gone before us to focus solely on new technologies, we all need to consider the lenses through which we are viewing events.
Chris Dede defines learning technologies as those which focus on student learning and instructional technologies as those which focus on pedagogy and teaching. I never separated the two in my mind; I just consider any technology as a tool to accomplish the objectives. When using VoiceThread in the classroom to connect first grade students I am not thinking about the VoiceThread, the computer, or the microphone, but about the first grade standard, "SWBAT recognize that other countries have different customs."
The Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP) emphasizes the ethical use of using technology to facilitate student learning.
The tools of technology can be used to stimulate critical by avoiding lower level questions and answers on Bloom's Taxonomy just as one would in a classroom devoid of digital technologies. By creating artifacts as culminating projects to units students incorporate higher levels of Bloom's Taxonomy, like analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating. It's not the tool; it is how it is used to accomplish the objectives.
Note: I thought the blackboard originated in Scotland and was first used in the United States by a teacher at WestPoint.
Association of Information Technology Professionals. (2006-2011). Association of Information Technology Professionals. Retrieved from
Bloom B. S. (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook I: The Cognitive Domain. New York: David McKay Co Inc.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2008). Educational Technology: A Historic Perspective. Baltimore.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2008). Educational Technology Defined. Baltimore.
Lehmann, C. (2007, January 5). Some thoughts about school 2.0 -- part 1 [Web log message]. Retrieved from

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