Week One: What is Educational Technology?

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.

Source

Constructivist Teaching Strategies

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.

We need to proceed with our eyes wide open so that we many use technology rather than be used by it.

Neil Postman

4 thoughts on “Week One: What is Educational Technology?

  1. First of all- you crushed your first blog! Without the caveat at the beginning I would have thought you were a seasoned veteran! Which actually draws parallels to the points I resonated with in your amazing blog. First of all- being a student of the 80’s and 90’s! I come from the same generation and have similar memories of integrating technology into our learning. I vividly recall in Grade 12 our English teacher assigning this new tool, called PowerPoint, to organize our and structure our presentations on Canadian Literature. Every day for a week we would walk up to the one (of two) computer labs, take 20 minutes to log on and put together our presentation. I would LOVE to see what I thought was good back in the year 1999! Fast forward to when I started teaching in 2005 and I too would love to incorporate what I know now and turn back the clock! But I suppose that is the gift of reflection and growth- we are afforded the opportunity to look back and see how far we have come and keep actively learning so we can keep growing. Whether that is utilizing meaningful learning theories to meet the outcomes and students where they are at, or utilizing technology, my ultimate hope is that in 10 more years I will say the same thing again- if only I could turn back time! What you showed in this blog post it’s not about going back in time, it’s about the past informing the future, constantly reflecting, learning, growing, innovating because when we do that, we are truly doing all we can in the moment to make this moment all it can be. Great post! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it!

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  2. Janelle, your blog looks fantastic! You did a great job and really crushed your first blog. If you wouldn’t have mentioned that at the beginning I would have thought that you have been blogging for a while! Last semester was the first time that I have blogged in almost a decade, so I too feel like I am on shaking grounds when blogging. But yours definitely looks fantastic, so keep up the great work!

    When learning about soft vs. hard technology, was something that I had never learned before and it was very interesting to me. I am glad that you included that in your blog, as it seems like something that happened so long ago and was a great reminder! I also really liked how you went back and told stories about your own learning and how it has shaped the way that you use and implement technology today. I think that is something really important to use the past to inform the future. Great post, I look forward to reading your next posts!

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  3. Fantastic first post! I particularly enjoy the infographic that has some of the history of tech in the classroom. Like many of our classmates, when I think of technology I often think of things that are powered or have microchips of some kind in them. Technology can be much more simplistic than that. I also blogged a bit about soft vs. hard technologies. I find it interesting how so much tech that perhaps was not meant for an educational purpose originally has become used so much in classrooms. Who knew the YouTube would have such a huge educational impact? Something that was at first seen as purely entertainment and a time killer/meme distributor is now something that is used extensively in education. The amount my four year-old son knows about dinosaurs from watching and hour of YouTube each day astounds me.

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