An Essential Question for EdTech


Integration by me: I realized this painting was ‘done’ when I had integrated colours from the daffodil’s cup into the petals.

Recently I wrote a post on digital literacy within the wider context of literacy and, in writing, touched on what I realize is central to my own teaching:

an essential question for educators today is how do we integrate literacies in our students? and in ourselves?

It is not enough – it really, really isn’t – to advocate for technology in the classroom because it looks good and because others say it is important. A reflective school leader – administrator, teacher, support staff, consultant – will start digging deeper for essential questions around student learning in relation to the use of technology, as well as apply those questions to their own learning.

I use technology in my teaching because literacy is the central focus for me at all times. “Literacy is about being able to make sense of the world we live in” (Dennis Harter, in comment to my post) and my deepest desire as a teacher is that I help students to begin to achieve this, that I give them the tools with which they can make sense of their/our world.

I use a mashup of communication tools in my teaching, from word processing, to podcasting, to text readers, to visual editors, to blogging, to wikis, to debate, to improv, to (perhaps the most important) simple conversation. I do this because each of these tools can help different students make sense of the vast amount of information that is available to them in different ways. This is essential because each of my students need the opportunity to discover the tools that work best for them and I recognize that these are not necessarily the tools that work best for me.

If I did not use technology in my teaching I would be going against all that I stand for as a teacher.

That being said, if I return to my essential question from above, I need to stress that using tech to improve literacy is only part of the picture, part of the system. Literacy is a complex system made up of many and diverse components.

I am moving more toward thinking about how my job is really to assist students in integrating their literate selves. In doing so, I need to recognize and honour the role(s) played by different technologies in their learning and in my own. That is essential for me.

(this post was inspired by this one)


  • Tracy says:

    I like how you mention the concept of identity – so powerful.

  • Kevin says:

    Hi Tracy

    This is so true: Literacy is a complex system made up of many and diverse components.

    I think it goes to the heart of how we connect with our students and why we teach. I think the concept of identity within this multi-literacy world is so important for our kids and I don’t get the sense that the majority of teachers and administrators “see” this. Video games, graphic novels, artwork, audio, video — these are important components to a students real world and we should be finding ways to tap into these literacies to make learning meaningful for them.

    Thanks for your great reflection here.


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