Here we go! Blogging is new to me so bear with me, hoping to show some growth along the way!
This week we were asked to define educational technology using the Mentimeter tool. My response was any technology that enhances “traditional education,” although my initial thoughts went to digital tools to enhance education. More on that below, but first I’ll touch on some key points from the lecture.
There is a great historical basis to the current technologies and methodologies being used in classrooms today. Katia shared Aristotle’s three different types of knowledge.
- Episteme- scientific and universal knowledge (what we know/what we can know)
- Techne- technical knowledge (production)
- Phronesis- practical knowledge (theory into action)
Understanding that there are various forms of knowledge lends itself to understanding that there are various ways to acquire knowledge through learning. Using the TPACK framework allows us to understand how to use technology to teach concepts in a way that enhances student learning experiences. The intersections of each area of knowledge (Content Knowledge (CK), Pedagogical Knowledge (PK), and Technological Knowledge (TK)) represent a deeper understanding.
When reviewing the learning theories presented this week, I have had times in my career when I have believed in all three. Presently, I align my teaching and learning with the constructivist theory, although this was not always the case. Thinking back to my first years as an elementary teacher I am sure B.F. Skinner’s Operant Conditioning within the behaviourist theory was practiced when I landed my first job teaching middle years. If only I could turn back time! Since then, through time, professional development and experience there has been considerable growth. Aligning more with the constructivist theory, I can appreciate that students bring their own unique experiences to the classroom everyday and their background and previous knowledge impact how they are able to learn. I am a huge advocate for collaborative cultures in schools. Lev Vygotsky believed that “learning is a collaborative process, and that social interaction is fundamental for cognitive development.
According to Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development, students learn best when working collaboratively with those whose proficiency level is higher than their own, allowing them to complete tasks they are not yet able to do independently” (Padgett, 2020). As a school leader, implementing the principles of this theory go beyond the student/teacher relationship and are also applied to teacher/administrator and school/community relationships.
Back to my definition of educational technology, any tool that enhances “traditional technology.” I went to elementary school in the 80’s and 90’s and don’t recall a computer lab until the 5th or 6th grade and even then, we are talking only word processing, Number Munchers, and Oregon Trail being the bulk of the tasks. I did live through the film projectors being replaced with VHS tapes, and the installation of white boards instead of chalkboards. Another piece of educational technology that I experienced was taking a high school class via satellite, perhaps our version of online learning today.
Katia had us brainstorming various forms of media that was thought to drastically change education during its time, starting with the chalkboard! We have come a long way since then. This discussion lead to the difference between soft vs. hard technologies. Hard technologies are those such as a refrigerator or rotary telephone. Soft technologies are those in which the user has control, can manipulate, and opens doors for possibilities. Examples of soft technologies include an iPhone and its many apps and tools that can be used or even a stick. Within our classrooms and schools there is a plethora of technology that may not be deemed “technological” because it is not digital, but in fact are a type of technology.
As you can see, technology has been a part of classrooms for centuries and the growth beyond 2013 has been immense. A Short History of Educational Technology gives another timeline of tech. history starting with oral communication, to written, to broadcasting (radio and TV) and right into today’s digital age and the beginning of social media.
Within classrooms today there are a variety of different tools digital or otherwise to support those in education. There is no doubt that technology opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for students, parents and teachers. George Siemens (2005) states, “The pipe is more important than the content within the pipe.” As educators we need to understand that use of these tools to enhance (not replace) current educational practices needs to be purposeful. This will take time, patience and practice.