So, You Think You Know Technology?

When educators visualize the utilization of technology in the classroom, they often focus on digital tools to enhance instruction or replace traditional tools (i.e., notebooks, pencils, etc.). Some even believe in technocentrism, seeing technology as the ultimate solution; a shadow cast upon everything else. But aren’t there more factors to positive learning experiences, such as pedagogy and content knowledge? Doesn’t technology encompass more than a computer?

Reproduced by permission of the publisher, © 2012 by

Contrary to popular belief, technology is not the be-all, end-all and it doesn’t only include what’s digital. According to Merriam-Webster, technology can be defined as the practical application of knowledge, especially in a particular area. Technology includes tools to further understanding, dependent on two things: pedagogy and content knowledge. Dr. Matthew Koehler, professor of educational psychology and educational technology at Michigan State University, and Dr. Punya Mishra, Co-Director of the Master's in Educational Technology program at Michigan State University, have developed a widely-used theory — TPACK (Technological, Pedagogical and Content Knowledge) — which clarifies the confusion and it’s much simpler than we might have imagined.

We’ve all heard educational technology buzz terms, such as 1:1 institutions (one device for each student) or flipped classrooms (students learning at home and then participating in activities in school), yet they don’t give us the full picture on optimally integrating digital technology in education. According to Dr. Mishra in his keynote address at the 21st Century Learning Conference, “There is no such thing as an educational technology. What we have is a variety of technologies and our job as educators is to repurpose [and] customize them for our needs” (2012). Providing students access to a laptop over a pencil and notebook isn’t the answer. Not only must we find innovative ways to use technology paired with understanding our audience and content, but we must share our tactics with one another, furthering the participatory culture outlined in Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century (Jenkins, Purushotma, Clinton, Weigel, & Robison, 2006).

What learning experiences will you create with the use of technology?

Jenkins, H., Purushotma, R., Clinton, K., Weigel, M., Robison, A. (2006). Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. Retrieved from

Mishra, P. (2012). Keynote speaker @ 21st century learning conference - hong kong 2012. Retrieved from

Technology (n.d.). In Merriam-Webster online. Retrieved from

Wolf, L., G., (2009). Quickfires explained. Retrieved from

It's All About Who You Know

Since I was a child, I recall my father often telling me, “Success in life is all about who you know.” At first, I wasn’t exactly sure what he meant. It was a vague expression, yet I figured it had something to do with the fact that he was a salesman. Little did I know, his favorite phrase couldn’t have been more accurate, as it didn’t solely relate to sales but rather a much wider-scope of attainable success. That said, as I reflect on the path that has led me to this present moment, any success I’ve had would not have been possible without support from others.

Considering the responsibility of preparing individuals for success in an ever-changing world and unpredictable future, education is a daring career. Since I studied marketing as an undergraduate, only later deciding to follow a career path in teaching, my experience in the classroom had been extremely limited. As many new teachers do, I relied heavily on the support of my colleagues and am greatly appreciative of their willingness to help me. Still, what many of us undervalue is the world of support that lies within our technological devices, including, but not limited to, globally-connected social media platforms, professional organizations and thought-leading bloggers.

Developing a Personal/Professional Learning Network (PLN), as Trust defines as a “system of interpersonal connections and resources that support informal learning,” (p. 133) is a crucial feat that allows oneself to become an independent and lifelong learner. My PLN (as seen in the mind map displayed), includes many groups of individuals whom I learn from in a reciprocating manner. Beyond my interactions with colleagues, graduate school classmates and social media connections, I try to immerse myself as often as possible in the flow of content via blogs, journals and other online publications.

I recently began using Feedly, a news aggregator application, and highly recommend it to others as I’ve found it to be incredibly helpful in curating information. Feedly allows users to create categories of feeds and organizes it in an easy-to-navigate manner. Moreover, the mobile app is great for accessing your feed on the go.

One more thing worth checking out is Mozilla’s Web Literacy Wheel. If we are going to teach students how to successfully navigate the digital world, we must lead by example. In turn, the effectiveness of one’s PLN and curated ideas is contingent on how efficiently we can evaluate the information we come across. As is always the concern, not everything suggested is worth reading or implementing. Nevertheless, the more often we explore, the better chance we have of finding those hidden gems.


Trust, T. (2012). Professional learning networks designed for teacher learning. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 28(4), 133-138.