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?

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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

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