Looking Back: An Essential Question for EdTech

As part of my Looking Back series, this post remains as relevant for me and my teaching today as it was when it was written on July 4, 2008. Click on the title below for a link to the original post and comments.

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)

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