Technology, Power, Knowledge and Learning

“technology has changed from being a peripheral factor to becoming more central in all forms of teaching.” (Bates, 2014)

When I think of my own definition of educational technology, I suppose that it is all technology that can be used for an educational purpose. Whether that is embedding technology into your classroom through whole class instructional videos, interactive whiteboards/smartboard activities, games, etc or utilizing iPads and laptops to enhance learning. Anything that involves technology and increases learning in the classroom would fall under the term educational technology. But we would also have to look at the definition of technology. Any tool such as a chalkboard could be categorized as technology. In Bates (2014) article, A Short History of Educational Technology, he taught through the history of development of oral communication, written communication, broadcasting and video, computer technologies, and social media. Each of these categories are used today in learning and within the classroom.

Of course not all learning online takes place within the classroom today. This became very clear this past year as more students learned in an online/blended/ asynchronous/synchronous way. Educational technology has been a part of all students lives in some form or another this past year. It has grown and evolved more than ever. Educators learned and adapted to this new way of teaching quickly. Educators became tech savvy as they attempted to engage students in a way that was not familiar.

Before taking EdTech courses, my view around technology in the classroom was not very great. I didn’t see the benefit, I thought students spent enough time on video games. I felt like they needed to rest their eyes and be present in the moment. A big lesson I learned was the importance of teaching students about media balance. Technology is not going away and is a big part of the world. Educators need to teach students how to properly utilize and navigate the big world of the web. Common Sense Education has been an extremely helpful resource in helping me have conversations about technology and media with my students. Not all parents are aware of what their children are doing on the internet because it evolves so fast. Educating students to be able to make good choices and be safe on devices is crucial in our world today. Teaching the concepts of digital citizenship and media literacy can easily be embedded into instruction and tie into curriculum.

Reflecting on the technological change that has happened just in my lifetime is grand. Every time something new is introduced, humans seem reluctant to change. It could be as far back as the act of writing, as Bates (2014) mentions in his article to the blackboard being placed in classrooms. There are always debates and pros/cons to new ideas. Educators know that all students learn in a variety of ways. Every time there is a new concept or idea in teaching, many teachers are hesitant of the change. The way my instruction has developed over the years has been adapted as I have learned about different students needs. Modelling is my number one instructional strategy that I use today in my teaching. Using the model ‘I do’, ‘We do’ and ‘You do’ is how I deliver most subjects to my students. I learned quickly at the beginning of my career that my students needed to be engaged in a variety of ways and be able to make connections to learning. Regarding instruction, Ertmer and Newby (2013) assert that “It should organize information in such a manner that learners are able to connect new information with existing knowledge in some meaningful way” (p.54). I learned this early on in my career while teaching reading. When young students were reading a book with me that they had no prior knowledge to or were not able to connect to, of course they displayed no comprehension. For example, if I was doing a reading assessment and the student was reading a book on camping but had never been camping, it wouldn’t be a good representation of their reading skills. Learning must be meaningful to students and make sense in their lives. Technology is meaningful to many students, it is a significant part of their lives. Most students are able to connect to technology which is why it has become a big part of my teaching.

How do we continue to keep up with the evolution of technology and not allow it to run our lives? Have we already gotten to that point without recognizing it? Postman (1998) states that “We need to proceed with our eyes wide open so that we may use technology rather than be used by it” (p. 5).

Who holds the power of knowledge? Today it is also important to be able to determine misinformation and/or ‘fake news’. This is a skill educators must be teaching students. It is hard to know what is true when it comes to the knowledge fed to us online. Is it real or is someone in power controlling what is allowed to be known? Postman (1998) regarding the age of information that was approaching asserted that, “This age of information may turn out to be a curse if we are blinded by it so that we cannot see truly where our problems lie. That is why it is always necessary for us to ask of those who speak enthusiastically of computer technology, why do you do this? What interests do you represent? To whom are you hoping to give power? From whom will you be withholding power?” (p.3). Being a critical thinker is so important and educating students to ask questions is key. Have we allowed technology to take over? To be in control of what we can learn today?

In Katia’s lecture the question was posed if technology makes a difference if the beliefs about knowledge or learning remain the same? Technology has made a great impact on knowledge and learning. We as humans and educators need to learn to keep up with the ever changing ways of knowing, learning and technology. They are clearly linked together and I believe will not stop evolving.

“Learning theories are concerned with the actual process of learning, not with the value of what is being learned” (Siemens, 2005, p. 3). My teaching journey has progressed towards the value of what is being taught. What is most important? How do I consider that? I am passionate about teaching social-emotional learning to my grade 2/3’s. I believe through my experience that this is the most important part of my day. Having ‘mindful minutes’ and taking time to check in with our emotions and needs allows us to be able to learn. I find that more valuable and effective than many items I am mandated to teach.

Knowledge and learning has become more accessible due to technology. Anyone can look up the curriculum from anywhere in the world. One can take an online class from anywhere that has internet access. There is a world of possibility through the access of technology. I remember how exciting it was to unplug the landline and hook up the internet. It was slow and loud but amazing that we could type in any question and get an answer. Before this I believed libraries held all the knowledge. Encyclopedias were a common house hold item. I now am looking at these critically and am thinking about who wrote encyclopedias and why that knowledge was deemed correct? I would have to look at an encyclopedia again and analyse this. As I stated above there are many ways to gain knowledge now. We can learn from each other online through twitter, blogs, community of practices, etc. Siemen (2005) states “Learning is a continual process, lasting for a lifetime” (p.1). Learning happens all around us in an informal way. Formal education is not the only way people are gaining knowledge today.

Discussing technology with teachers now at the end of their career, they would have never imagined how much technology is now incorporated in their classroom. This shift has been huge especially in the last year due to Covid. I know my beliefs around education has changed with each year I have taught and will continue to do so. What is deemed important to teach pupils is also changing. Like the need to start teaching media literacy and digital citizenship at a young age. Coding has become a part of many classrooms as well. My students seem to pick up on the concept of coding so easily as it is a part of their everyday online lives. “These tools are needed in this digital age for students to flourish” (Siemens, 2005, p. 7). My own teaching theory has become farther away from the curriculum with each year I teach. Learning to decolonize the classroom and education has geared me away from what was deemed important at the beginning of my career. I now ask why certain subjects and topics are necessary and where did that come from?

The origins of educational technology have drastically changed. Collaboration is a major key in educational technology today. Educators are able to connect with other teachers around the globe. Professional Development is offered all over the internet. Resources are easily accessible. Community of Practices, conferences and networking all can happen online. The shift has many benefits for teachers and students.

Learning about the beginning of educational technology and the development through the years, I am curious to see how it will continue to evolve. My own teaching practices and philosophy has evolved with time and experience and will continue to.

  • What changes do you believe we will see in the next 5, 10, or 20 years regarding educational technology and learning?
  • What predictions can you make about the shift in education by the end of your own career?
  • How has educational technology changed since the beginning of your career?

“Thus it is fair to describe the impact of the Internet on education as a paradigm shift, at least in terms of educational technology. We are still in the process of absorbing and applying the implications.” (Bates, 2014)

Thank you for reading my thoughts,

Christina

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Bates, T. (2014). A short history of educational technology. https://www.tonybates.ca/2014/12/10/a-short-history-of-educational-technology/.

Ertmer, Peggy A, & Newby, Timothy J. (2013). Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism: Comparing Critical Features From an Instructional Design Perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 26(2), 43-71.

Postman, N. (1998). Five things we need to know about technological change. Denver, Colorado28.

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. https://jotamac.typepad.com/jotamacs_weblog/files/Connectivism.pdf

Published by christinapatt13

I am a grade 2/3 teacher in Regina, Sask. "The important thing is not to stop questioning; curiosity has its own reason for existing.” – Albert Einstein

3 thoughts on “Technology, Power, Knowledge and Learning

  1. Chrtisitna, thanks for sharing your very real transformational change in terms of educational technology. When you said before you took some of these educational technology courses, you felt like technology wasn’t necessary in the classroom because of the sheer amount of time that young people spend on technology, but now you realize how it can be such a useful tool was such a powerful thing to realize. I think something that we are going to be challenged by in the next decade is access to technology, and keeping up with the ever-growing demands of what our society deems as useful and required. That being said, I think that school divisions are also going to have a hard time keeping up with the changes in the technological world if there isn’t enough support from the government(s).Thanks for the insightful post!

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  2. Hi Christina. What a thoughtful blog post! I found myself nodding in agreement as I read through each section. As a fellow Grade 2/3 educator, I completely agree that we need to teach students about balancing technology in their lives. Technology can consume a lot of our time and I think it is important for us to model responsible use of technology to our students, because some parents simply don’t do the best job. I have had students tell me, “All my dad does is sit on his phone and scroll through Facebook, he doesn’t play with me.” I don’t mean to judge parents, as I know they are doing the best they can, but it does make me wonder how true that statement is. And being a new mom myself, has me consciously thinking about the time I spend on my phone. Technology is here to stay and will be paramount in our students lives. Your connection to the Postman article was bang on as well – “We need to proceed with our eyes wide open so that we may use technology rather than be used by it.” This also reminds of Marshall McLuhan’s phrase “the medium is the message”. What implication does that have when teachers use particular technology in the classroom? I am thankful to be taking this class at this particular time because technology is evolving so quickly. Reading your blog post has made me more aware of connectivism as a learning theory, as I am learning from you. Learning from peers and making connections to someone else’s thoughts and connections is an impactful way to gain knowledge. Thank you. I look forward to reading your blog again in the next couple of weeks!

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  3. That balance is important. Even in my fairly tech–based courses, if I can do something as effectively “old-school” with little or no tech, I’m all for it. I’m going to try to tackle the questions near the end of your post.

    What changes do you believe we will see in the next 5, 10, or 20 years regarding educational technology and learning?
    -I think we’ll see even more emphasis on transparent with assessments/grades online and emphasis on how immediate that feedback is.. I’m not sure that this is good for the mental health of students, parents, and teachers, but I do not see school systems reverting back to what it was like when I was in high school and I’d know what my mark was 2-3 times a semester. I am hoping that we will also become more critical with how technology is used in courses, because I sometimes seen it used in gimmicky and unnecessary ways.

    What predictions can you make about the shift in education by the end of your own career?
    -By the end of my career, I am hoping that we closer to paperless and the tech streamlines some more time-consuming aspects of assessment (rubrics can be used very quickly in Moodle, for example). We just need the PD and time to get us there.

    How has educational technology changed since the beginning of your career?
    -At the beginning of my career, there were desktop computers for teach classroom. About 7-8 years ago RCSD switched to laptops. We now have data projectors in every teaching space, which certainly wasn’t the case before. My school went through a bit of an iPad phase where each teacher also had one of those to use. Wireless display tech has made projecting a lot easier than it used to be. No need to mess around with cables and adapters, and the reliability has improved a lot.

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