Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Key Question Revisited

 In April 2007, Scott McLeod asked, "Given the realities of our modern age and the demands of our children's future, is it really ok for teachers to choose whether or not to incorporate modern technologies into their instruction?".  This past September he made this question even more relevant (despite his claim to be Dangerously Irrelevant) with his latest version of Did You Know? (Did You Know 4.0) 

It makes it worthwhile to debate this question again. What is your opinion, and even more importantly, if you agree with Scott, how can you take an active role in realizing the potential of modern technology in an educational setting?


Anonymous said...

Ola Alhazmi
In General, I agree to use modern technology. We know the technology has developed very fast. 5 years ago a few student in high school know how to use the computer. Now, the students in elementary school know how to use computer and internet. We can see that the students in different level from 2-12 use the internet more than 5 years ago for many reasons. The big reasons are; 1- play games, 2- chat with friends.
I agree, (the technology will more and more in education at different ways). I would to use the technology but under many controllers. In last 5 years many applications appeared. For example PowerPoint, It was slides with simple animation. Now, we have flash diagram which is very helpful for many topic in class. (

1. Technologies Department: I mean there are many modern technologies; some of them are free, some of them have to pay fees. In addition there are technology tools better than others. I think we have technology department who will be the responsible about tools that we have to apply in class based on the topic. The department can evaluation the class tool and advice the tools to the teacher based on class topic because the teacher could not know all the technology applications that are appear every day..

2. Technology Training Department: I mean department gets responsibility to train teacher how they use the technology tools.

3. Development Pedagogical Knowledge Department: I mean department that make Pedagogic example for topic to give advice for teacher how to using the technology in best way. For example, make video, flash PowerPoint. That is not mean replace the teacher, but assists the teacher to explain more and to be a reference for student to use it any time.

In the article, I believe in Technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPCK) "is an emergent form of knowledge that goes beyond all three components (content, pedagogy, and technology)." is very interesting point. I think ministry of education has to get the first steps to dominate the improvement in school and the improvement how will be .
Thank you

Ev said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ev said...

*edit for proof reading


Technology is being used today more than ever before. It is widely used in the business world as well as education. It is our job as leaders and future leaders to ensure that technology is being used in the most appropriate manner. Many factors need to be taken into consideration to make sure that this is happening.

I agree that a need for technology and usage of technology has risen in the educational setting in this country. Many problems can arise with the use of new technologies including teacher backlash, inappropriate training on the new technology for teachers and students, rates at which technology changes and how to use the technology to be most effective.

Everyone is adverse to change and teachers are no different. Often times I have found in my job that not enough time is devoted to technology, or the professional development that teachers receive is insufficient. Teachers need to be given more that one training a year that merely introduces the technology to them and does not engrain how to use the technology to the best of it's ability. This then becomes a logistical problem on the part of the administration. Just how much time is too much time to devote to technology? The article states "Most scholars working in this area agree that traditional methods of technology training for teachers—mainly workshops and courses—are ill suited to produce the ‘‘deep understanding’’ that can assist teachers in
1032 Teachers College Record
Becoming intelligent users of technology for pedagogy” In my opinion with the every changing landscape of the country and the educational system not enough time in the world exists. A new system of professional development and teacher training needs to be developed to ensure that our students are ready and well versed in the new technologies available today.

While new technologies are always available the rate at which these technologies change is drastic. Gone are the days when a computer was up to date for five years. The problem with the changing technology is in the way we train students and teachers with the technology. Teachers and students need to be trained on what the real use of the technology is. They need to know how it runs, but also why they are using it and how it will make their day easier or have their cognitive ability flourish. This can be accomplished by having a technology team of students and teachers at a particular school. Many hours and days will need to be devoted to this team, but once they know all the positives of the technology they can then train the rest of the population on how use that technology thus leading to everyone being immersed in the usage of that technology.

Technology integration should not replace education, but rather enhance the teaching and learning that is taking place. Good teaching can take place in the presence of or lack thereof technology. It is my opinion that good teaching can then become great teaching with the proper implementation and use of technology.

Samuel Sennott said...


Terrific conversation starter.

I say yes it is perfectly reasonable if they teach them the most important facts, skills, rules, concepts as they help them learn to be excellent learners. I would take an amazing teacher any day over a lousy teacher who uses one to one computing.

Another way to put it is I would take Janice Light or Gayle Porter plus some light tech materials any day over some undertrained individual with their cc's and the apple tablet any day.

I definitively believe in the power of technology, but they are learning tools that are only powerful if they are used in combination with good teaching.

So no technology is not necessary to teach, but are technology tools some of the most powerful learning tools we have, certainly.

Let's combine the great tools with great teaching.



Patrick Black said...

I also think there is a question of engagement and motivation involved in integrating technology. Many students are so used to video/computer/etc... integrated into every aspect of their life - I mean what parent doesn't have a cell phone from the time their child was small anymore! Just that fact that Diego uses a computer to keep his journal, students are seeing the technology in every part of their life. That if we don't use some sort of technology to get their attention, we may just miss them.

Faith Paradis said...

Yes! Teaching is the key and technology is one of the tools. It helps when it gives the teacher more time to actually spend with the students by making the job easier. Technology can allow a technique to be duplicated and transferred to another person again giving the teacher more time with the students and other staff working with the student. Good teaching is what it is all about!

Robin said...

One of the most important factors when deciding whether or not (in my mind) teachers can "opt-out" of using technology came at the beginning of the article. The authors were discussing the divergent teacher educational practices that often occur: pedagogical learning and content learning. Having stated that they think modern teaching institutions don't do a good enough job of providing background for education students on both of these areas, the authors go on to say "Teachers will have to do more than simply learn to use currently available tools; they also will have to learn new techniques and skills as current technologies become

I looked at these two statements as presenting similar ideas and representing similar limitations on teacher training. Just as an experienced teacher shouldn't rely on outdated pedagogical learning (students learn through rote memorization, for example), teachers should not use the excuse of "technology changes so quickly" to avoid using it as a tool. Good teachers recognize that learning is ongoing; in content areas, in pedagogy, and in delivery models (of which technology is a part). That's why professional development is crucial for even the best teacher. The argument for not incorporating technology today is about as valid as the argument for not teaching aseptic/sterile techniques in medical school. Just because it wasn't always part of the curriculum and practice doesn't mean it isn't now an integral part of what your students need to learn. In the same vein, good teachers know that modeling is one way to teach, so incorporating technology into delivery and practices in the classroom helps support the concepts of technology as curriculum content.

Beth Poss said...

It seems like teacher training on technology is a big factor in whether technology can be successfully integrated. I know in my work, the training that works the best is just in time, job embedded training, which if you think about it is exactly how students learn about technology--in the moment and in the context of what they are doing day to day, whether it be in school or while at play. Maybe we are not so different from these digital natives, after all!

Anonymous said...

With the advancement of current technologies and the increasing exposure of these technologies to students, it makes it impossible to not incorporate some type of technology in teaching. With stores selling laptops specifically made for 5-8 year-olds and interactive TV learning systems, children today learn very differently from children even 10 years ago. So, why stop incorporating technology into learning once they get to the classroom?

I do agree with everyone and Mishra and Koehler that teaching training for technology should be improved; teachers do need more time to not only learn about the technologies but to learn how to apply them to their own teaching. Just as Mishra and Koehler describes in their article, not all teachers are alike, and not all technologies will work for every classroom. Like Ola explained, I agree that it would be a good idea for schools to have a technology department that would be dedicated to not only giving training sessions on technologies that everyone could use but to also customize technology education based on the teacher and the subject.


Anonymous said...

Dan Schrot,
It is not ok for teachers to choose whether they can use technology in their instruction The must use technology while teaching. The tools students use today to learn are far different than those in my generation used when we were children. Today's students are adept to using technological gadgets and tools for communication where as my generation did not have cell phones, websites, social networking sites and ipods. My school instructors used teaching methods that matched my learning styles and used tools which were similar to those that I used outside of school. Today's teachers (and the curriculums) need to meet the needs today's students and teach using technology similar to the tools students use in their free time. Today's students don't use paper, pencil and books to learn about concepts. They learn by watching videos and witnessing virtual representations. I agree with Mishra and Koehler when they said technologies have “afforded a range of representations,
analogies, examples, explanations, and demonstrations that can help make
subject matter more accessible to the learner.” For that reason, teachers have to incorporate technology into their teaching.

Beth Poss said...

It seems like the key to teaching successfully with technology, is providing teachers with the right training to do this. Do you have examples of successful training for teachers? Does it come down to administrators requiring it, or is it going to be a trickle down effect as younger teachers who are digital natives themselves become teachers? How do you think training can be implemented to help teachers use technology successfully?

Brian Teitz said...

There is no doubt technology has permeated the classroom and come a long way since Oregon Trail a game of merely entertainment value to complex and 3d games which involve learning. However after reading this article and analyzing the everyone’s responses it is clear there is an overwhelming concern for the use of technology. I am all for technology especially in the classroom but at the same time think we need to achieve a health balance and not get to technology happy.

According to Schulman the traditional knowledge base of teacher education focused on the content knowledge of the teacher. I agree this is a very important part of learning however simply listing to Stephen Hawking’s vast amount of knowledge will not result in one becoming an expert on Asto-Physics. The subject matter needs to be made accessible to the learners through PCK or Pedagogical Content Knowledge. This requires the teachers to adapt particular topics, problems, and issues and devise ways to organize, represent and adapt the information to the diverse interests and abilities of the learners (Shulman).

There is no doubt that there is in an abundance of technology available to instructors, and there is a movement to integrate these technologies into the learning experience. However teachers face issues in adopting these technologies whether it is hardware issues or operator issues this may stop many teachers from adopting these technologies. If the teacher is not comfortable with these technologies then the teaching quality can be degraded because of a lack of knowledge or familiarity, it could possibly be better to avoid the technology.

Also with a rapid rate of technology expansion and its seamless integration into the classroom, traditional techniques might be greater appreciated.

One question I would like to ask is does educational technology have its own content knowledge as Mishra and Koehler propose or is it more of a subcategory of pedagogical content which can than be utilized to express content knowledge. For example a website is inherently useless unless proper thought was used to create it to teach and display (pedagogical) the content. Mishrea and Koehler note that “A teacher with deep pedagogical knowledge understand how students construct knowledge, acquire skills, and develop habits of mind and positive dispositions toward learning which are essentially the same skills to the successful implementation of technology. By having this understanding of pedagogical knowledge and the ability to recognize the available technology and utilize it seems to fall into this category contrary to how Mishrea and Koehler view the subject. Technology is merely another tool teachers have in their toolbox, and like any tool it requires experience and familiarity to effectively use.

So the question I ask is shouldn’t the model for technology is learning be like a table rather than a triad. The content is supported by the teachers effective use of technology and pedagogy. If the use of technology and pedagogy is ineffective and not strong enough the table will collapse and content will slip away getting lost in the confusion.

Jonathan said...

I think that this is a hilarious question, and the overwhelming answer is no. Just as we’ve given up on teaching students shorthand, we should be giving up rigorous spelling lessons in favor of teaching students where to find spellcheck.

The fact that there are those still amongst in the arena of academia that still propose this question make me want to switch careers, or at least, hunt them down and kill the still functioning word processor that they must have (because anyone who would consider that modern technologies not be incorporated in the modern classroom must still enjoy playing pinball.)

Of course teachers should be required to include up to date current technologies in the classroom. That is a no brainier; the real question is: who will pay for it?

Arnie Duncan, our current secretary of education with no classroom experience, is offering financial incentives to states that include teacher evaluations based on student performance. An age of high stakes test taking deemphasizes exploratory educational practices in favor of test scores. Few educators know how to incorporate the internet and other modern technologies into the classroom while ensuring that test scores will not drop for a school year. As we all know too well, high stakes testing breeds a culture of fear in our school systems. No one wants to take risks on incorporating technology if it could it could cost the school money if test scores drop.

Finally, this is something that teachers in well-funded schools have the privilege to ask themselves. To think that teachers in under funded schools would consider teaching skills like grammar in the classroom and not the application of these skills in technology is problematic at best. It is important that teachers in these schools address the achievement gap and maybe it’s time that we consider the technology gap in the same way that we consider the vocabulary gap. In my school, our current technology director prides himself in our computer labs that he’s outfitted with one Lenovo CPU with four slaved monitors. This configuration appears to maximize one CPU for four users; however, we know that web 2.0 applications require a lot of processor speed. By slaving four monitors, we diminish the capacity for this user to incorporate modern technology. The other words, it’s using a 60 watt light bulb to light four rooms.

Beth, I’m sorry that I’m the last one to post.

Beth Poss said...

Jonathan--I had to actually laugh out loud when I read your post. I would like you to hunt down my daughter's 4th grade teacher who did not want her using Word to do her homework because she would never learn to spell if she used spell check! (And I have to say, that otherwise this was a great teacher!). In some ways the question is answered by the requirement for states to demonstrate that students have technology literacy by grade 8--Maryland now tests all students in Grade 7 (yes, I know--do we really need another standardized assessment??). Great discussion from all of you on this topic.

Lorna said...

As an instructional technology trainer I have always advocated that it is NOT about the technology. It is about how the technology can support the learning. I was so excited to read the article about TPCK. I am in full agreement with this concept. Subject matter is only learned well if the pedagogical approach used supports the specific content type and is coupled with the use of a specific technology that can enhance the learning and retention of the content. Each subject needs a very customized plan with a pedagogical approach and technological infusion that is specifically targeting the needs of that subject matter. The decision to use technology should be based on the specific value it adds to the pedagogy and support of the subject matter.

Lorna said...

Faith, Samuel and Patrick all bring up strong points. Samuel is correct. Nothing beats the passionate instructor. Their passion is infectious. Patrick's point that there must be some special engagement using technology is also valid. Many instructors use YouTube to find video clips that demonstrate, often in a humorous way, concepts that are part of their instructional content. This engages the students with a technology they are already utilizing and helps bring home the point. Faith is also right. Technology is a tool. And training is a very real, important and always overlooked aspect of the use of technology. The same technology can be used in very different ways, depending on the pedagogical and content requirements. We have been using a classroom management application in a variety of ways. In the open computer labs, we are able to send messages directly to an individual computer to ask a student to stop certain behaviors or can shut the student out of the computer. This stops face to face confrontation between students and lab techs. We use the same software in Math classes to provide instructors a way to interact in a conversational chat with individual students while the class works on a math problem. This allows the instructor to assist and share the desktop of the student's computer, work together on the problem without disturbing other students or embarrassing the target student. We use the same software with the college librarians who find their subject matter difficult to keep students focused on. They can display their computer screen to the students desktops and the students lose control of keyboard and mouse functionality. They can then simply focus on what is being demonstrated and focus. Same software, three different uses. It really takes careful planning, strategy and training to bring these together to improve the learning and the experience with technology.

Scott McLeod said...

Thanks for extending the conversation over here. Good stuff!

FYI, there's an updated PowerPoint slide of this question on my blog:

Beth Poss said...

Thanks for the update! I appreciate your checking out our conversation on this great topic.

Jayme said...

Before I read the article I sat and thought about the question first. My first thought was NO!! Teachers should not have the right to choose whether or not they use modern technologies in their instruction. It should be a must. Teachers don’t get to choose what they teach; they have a curriculum that they must teach and follow and expectations of how things should be taught. BUT as a current classroom teacher who teaches all subjects; when do I have time to plan, create and search for ways to incorporate technology into my instruction efficiently??? Unless proper training, TIME, and access to modern technologies happen, I don’t think that it is fair to put that expectation on teachers. Their plates are already too full probably because other expectations have been put on them without proper training. If teachers are properly trained and are armed with the tools they need to bring the technologies into the classroom then yes it should be expected of them to use technology in their instruction. Technology is a scary thing for many teachers so proper training is the key to getting teachers motivated and comfortable using technology in the classroom. Don’t just show them how to use programs (the content); give them ideas and strategies on how to use technology efficiently in the classroom to enhance instruction (pedagogy). Provide teachers with templates, ready to go lessons or provide them with already made technologies that they can easily put into place in their lessons. The less prepping, creating and searching teachers have to do the more likely they are to use it.
As I read the introduction to the article about the lack of theories and research about technology I thought to myself, how could there be “good, useful” research about technology in education? I feel that education is all over map when it comes to technology. The complexity of relationships between teachers and educational settings are so different from school to school, county to county, state to state, etc, it has to be difficult to conduct research and develop a theory for educational technology. With the proper training not only in content knowledge but also pedagogy is the key to using modern technologies in the classroom. Pedagogical-Content Knowledge goes hand in hand. In order to truly be a great teacher you need to have a deep understanding of what you are teaching along with an understanding of how to present information for all types of learners to learn, comprehend and use the information. When you add technology to the mix it only makes sense to combine the three into the Technology Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK). Emerging the three components allows for teachers to gain an understanding of the content knowledge (technology), what they already know or possess about pedagogy to enhance their instruction using technology. I think the biggest hurdle right now is that teachers are not getting trained using the TPCK, they instead are always missing a component in their professional development workshops, leaving them confused and not confident enough to use the technology in their instruction. Once teachers are properly trained in the modern technologies then yes they should be expected to use them in the classroom but until then I do not think that it should be expected of them.