Blooms Digital Taxonomy: My Thoughts

[cross-posted at 09/10 ~ Thinking Forward]

Concept map for Bloom’s digital taxonomy. Developed by Andrew Churches of Kristin School in Albany Auckland, New Zealand. Click image for source.

Hmmm… not too sure I like the title. I’d just call it revised again, or updated, or something along those lines. It is a taxonomy that is updated to reflect current reality. It incorporates all modes of learning, not only the digital. Right?

Actually, on 2nd look I see that it emphasizes the digital in the descriptors as well as the information document this accompanies. Why the division of digital from all other learning? I’ve written about the problem(s) of separating the digital from other literacies before:

em-PHA-sis on the wrong syl-LA-ble or Hesitancy and “digital literacy”

And that writing still rings true to me.

As teachers we do need to teach students how to know, understand, and do. We need to teach them how to organize the increasingly messy amount of information around them, how to think critically, how to collaborate, and how to create based on all of those skills.

I plan on teaching these skills regardless of the tools they use to get there. Mind maps can be made with Dabbleboard, with masking tape and paint, or with a pen on the back of an old envelope. Heck, they can be made with a finger in the dirt. But the concept of organizing thought, either individually or collectively – stands way above the decision process over which tool to do it with. In fact, I have seen groups get so bogged down in the tools (tools that aren’t available but they wish they were, tools that don’t work, tools they don’t know properly, tools from home that aren’t compatible with school tools, etc…) that they lose their purpose altogether.

We can also model these skills. Students know I have a blog where I write about my teaching in order to improve it. They know I use different digital organizing tools. They know I collaborate with educators all over the world. They also see me calling other teachers into the classroom for advice/feedback/opinion/whatever. They see me talking with their parents so we can collectively reach our goals. They see me taking days off for professional development, so I can go meet with other teachers to improve our practice.

While I appreciate the addition of new verbs and conditions for learning in Andrew Churches’ taxonomy,  I still think the title and information document puts the em-PHA-sis on the wrong syl-LA-ble. As long as we keep our emphasis on the learning outcomes, the tools we use to get there can be varied.

They do not need to be digital.

em-PHA-sis on the wrong syl-LA-ble or Hesitancy and “digital literacy”

Image found on Wikipedia: Hopf Fibration and released into the public domain by its author, Davidarichter

I’ve stayed away from this blog for the past 2 days or so. I’ve been reading a crime novel, making a necklace, playing with my dog, doing suduko, unpacking and organizing, facebooking, and tweeting – basically keeping my mind superficially busy so that it could be free to work away on some issues in the background.

The reflection was triggered by comments on my last post.

I teach, learn, and live with digital technologies. I do think it important to pass on skills and knowledge regarding these technologies to my students and colleagues. So, why am I unsettled?

On Monday,Keith Gessen mused,

Nice thing we’ve got going here, this “pro-internet,” “anti-internet” debate.

(go read his post to see what he was going on about).

And as I read his post it made me think that this has all become a debate – a this vs. that – and it’s so not about that. It is, however, a resistance to the growing feeling I have that ‘digital literacy’ (see bottom of post for more on that) is becoming confused with the goal.

I teach, learn, and live with digital technologies, among other technologies, because I have found them to help me in my goal mission – YES MISSION – to help kids learn…

…that kindness is a trait to be valued.

…that making hateful comments like these ones have repercussions that go deep into our souls.

…that accountability and responsibility for one’s actions is heavy heavy….but, heavy.

…how to seek and find the positive in life.

…that they can find their highest selves

…that they can help others to find their highest selves too

…what it is to be a part of a community

And I can’t forget
…that they need to hang on to a sense of humour.

Ease with technology needs to be could be (depending on our immediate needs ;) ) integrated into our learning selves, but it isn’t THE goal.


A virtual high five goes out to these posts I read earlier today:
Learning, Motivation, and Technology by Steve Ransom
Motoko by Keith Gessen
Resources for Community Managers by Connie Bensen
Workplace Literacy by Ken Allen

ps – The term ‘digital literacy’ is starting to creep me out. I laughed OUT LOUD when I read Doug Belshaw’s tweet this morning. It was a good one:

Go back to where you were

Perpetuating the Story of Difference? or Literacy, revisited.

Literacy is a topic close to my heart.

I became a teacher 12 years ago because I felt a call to do whatever possible to make sure that all children knew how to read. Since then, the theme has deepened for me, coming to mean much more than just knowing how to read.

Dennis and I recently hashed out our working understanding of literacy in Boy in the Bubble revisited and in Literacies – digital and otherwise…or not. Christopher has explored the historical roots of education and literacy and we discussed what this might mean in a contemporary context in Digitality or Why ‘Literacy’ is Dead and again in Literacies – digital and otherwise…or not, referenced above.

I am coming to know literacy as being able to use cultural tools to make sense of the world we live in.

When I couple that with my understanding of experience and story – see Who are teachers? and my comment to SASSY reviews CNN’s Black in America: Black Men – I need to respect that there are many ways to do this, to make sense of the world we live in – to make sense of me in the world I live in relation to you and you in the world you and you live.

And so I am unsettled this morning as I reflect on how we – those of us who champion educational technology – think about, blog about, talk about, present about, attempt to persuade about, make assumptions about sense-making in our world.

This unsettled feeling has been creeping up on me, hanging out in my shadows. It stepped out of them for a moment this morning as I read Doug Belshaw’s EdD Thesis Proposal, in particular his equation of literacy in the 21st century with digital literacy. I commented (or at least I tried to, until edublogs’ server dropped the connection to the site … once again…):

Yup, still unsettled by the equation
literate in the 21st century = digitally literate

I think it is part of the equation, one of the ways to get there, but the sole definition of contemporary literacy?

Certainly excludes people without much access to digital media. Is there a danger of creating an even larger illiterate world by virtue of this definition?

I’m curious as to how you will explore this.

And I still ask the question – are we creating an even larger divide between peoples and cultures with different access to media when we make statements like:

“Literacy today depends on understanding the multiple media that make up our high-tech reality and developing the skills to use them effectively” (from Connecting the Digital Dots: Literacy of the 21st Century (2006) by Barbara R. Jones-Kavalier and Suzanne L. Flannigan)?

Can we really say that literacy depends on that? To rephrase using somewhat out-of-date terminology, by doing so are we creating an even larger divide between the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd worlds? And what about between the different socio-economic situations within our own countries?

Are we honouring different stories and experiences by limiting our definition of literacy to digital, or at the very least by claiming it to be the most relevant?

Are we making the differences even more apparant?

Are we making the differences even more apparent? (UNHD 07/08 World Literacy Map)

I have a lot of questions.

I feel unsettled.

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)

Literacies – digital and otherwise…or not.

It’s a recurring theme – how do we develop our students’ literacy skills? Literacy is “an essential component of a learning society” and as educators we strive to ensure that our students develop the keenest literacy (and numeracy) skills possible so they can be active and productive members of society…blahblahblah…so that they can belong.

Lately I’ve been thinking on how literacy is becoming more complex. Dennis has brought out this conversation in me, first on Learning 2.1 in response to the blog post: What is Web 2.0? and then on his own blog via Boy in the Bubble Revisited.

(I made this, er, image with the tools at Pretty fun little image collecting site. Go play :))

Basically, with the technologies that have become a way of life – especially for our kids who didn’t know life before myspace, facebook, im, texting, etc…- literacy has whole new dimensions to do with immediacy of communication. We need to recognize and honour it in our teaching – this I believe. I also believe that we need to see it as a subset of the larger context of literacy.

We can do this, perhaps, by asking questions like:

Dennis responded:

Both have value, both need to be tapped. Stretching the mind is ALWAYS a good thing. And understanding culture and thinking and the wonder of human ingenuity and creativity has to continue.

Personally I think there is more than a ‘both’. Looking at literacy as either digital or everything that came before is too dualistic for me – if I see literacy as a system (and I do) then digital literacy has an affect on all of literacy and vice versa. But I see where Dennis is going with this. It is a way(s) of reading and thinking and interacting with words, numbers, and thought that affects the way we need to teach.

“Literacy is on shifting sands,” [Heather] Blair says. “It’s a moving target. Our definition of what literacy is is a moving target. Our definitition has changed radically.”(from What is Literacy, Nov. 2005, CBC News Online)

Teachers struggle with motivation all the time. Intrinsic motivation – the motivation that comes from within ourselves – is seen as the type of motivation that triggers authentic and meaningful learning. By using tools that students are already comfortable with to access other forms of media/text is one way of developping intrinsic motivation – it may encourage students to ask: how does this fit in my world? And. more importantly, how do I fit in the world?

So, all of this is leading to why I don’t think we can look at literacies as one or the other, as dualistic. I think that an essential question for educators today is how do we integrate literacies in our students? and in ourselves?

If we continue to look at new ways of being literate in contrast to more traditional ways then I think it will only be all the more difficult to make connections with our students while we are teaching. And isn’t that what we are trying to do?

I’m just starting to think about this. I’m hoping y’all comment, ask me some questions to help me clarify exactly what I am getting at here…