Technology in Education, It’s Complicated


flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

There are many wicked questions in education, such as what is the role of the learner? Or the teacher? What strategies should we use? What are the essential learning outcomes? How do we engage with stack holders and the wider community? Each problem involves grappling with contradictory knowledge and opinions involved, the economic challenges and the interconnected nature. So many of these problems though are engrained in how we integrate technology within education.

A popular solution in¬†regards to¬†integrating technology seems to be¬†the TPACK framework. It consists of seven different knowledge areas focusing on the relationships between¬†technology, pedagogy and content. However, it can be argued that it creates more confusion than clarify. For example,¬†Richard Olsen points out¬†that, “separating technical/digital literacy from traditional literacy offers nothing”. The issue is that the framework sees things that are not necessarily so as somehow being in¬†isolation, such as Pedagogical Knowledge and Technological Pedagogical Knowledge, as well as Content Knowledge and Technological Cotent Knowledge. The question then remains, what part does technology play?

There are many¬†who argue that technology plays a central role in all that we do. The latest message coming from Greg Whitby, who suggests that technology offers the potential to extend our perspective beyond our own limits, offering the potential to deepen learning. The question though is how far do we take this? Where does social media and other such technology belong in schools? There are those such as Jason Markey who share about using hashtags and a shared Twitter account to model best practice. While there are also those, such as George Couros and Dean Shareski¬†¬†who warn against¬†‘edu-fying’ every new application, like Snapchat. Eric Jensen touches on this dilemma¬†wondering if schools should provide students with¬†a safe space away from the external pressures of parents and the world wide web. In addition to this, students have a tendency to simply move onto the next best thing. For although technology may offer the potential to deepen learning, it can also turn students off too.

In the end, I am not sure the exact place of technology? Is it a class Twitter account open to the world or is it a closed off space like Edmodo which allows for some sort of security? Is it allowing students to bring into school whatever device they like or is it banning all smartphones and wearable devices? Maybe the reality is that the answer is different for every school and context. What I do know is that¬†Danah Boyd’s book,¬†It’s Complicated, is more important than ever. Not because she necessarily provides all the answers – who does? – but that¬†she paints a picture of technology and the challenges of today.

The reality is that we all have a choice to make and that choice has consequences. So, what are you doing and what consequences is it having? I would love to know. Please share.


If you enjoy what you read here, feel free to sign up for my monthly newsletter to catch up on all things learning, edtech and storytelling.

Technology in Education, It’s Complicated by Aaron Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

One thought on “Technology in Education, It’s Complicated”

  1. I am 100% with Richard Olsen on the matter of NOT separating technology pedagogy/content/curriculum/whatever from “traditional” pedagogy/curriculum …

    I also do not believe that it is complicated anymore. It once was, when the technology was so restrictive in what it allowed you to do. Now though all that has changed.

    Note this 3 minute video by Prof Stephen Heppell The Future of Learning and also note that it was uploaded in 2009! It is even more relevant today.

    Technology is now so easy to use. That is not the significant part though. Now, the technology can be used, easily to collaborate, present, communicate, research, provide feedback, respond to feedback, share … that is, all the things that are valued in teaching and learning. It is no longer about the technology. We have to stop focusing on the technology. The technology merely enables wonderful things. Not complicated; at least not anymore!

Continue the conversation here ...