Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Learning in a Digital World

For me personally, technology has affected my learning -- and for the better -- in so many ways that it is difficult to single out any one factor as the most transformative or important in 21st century education. For, I remain a constructivist and, by extension, I try to make the most of a learning environment based on life experiences, be they in the use of technology or some other instructional tool. However, for the purpose of this blog assignment and the impact of technology on the manner in which I learn in a highly informational and digital world, I credit the learning theories of Piaget (Driscoll, 2005), Vygotsky (Driscoll, 2005), and Gardner (2003) as significant in my ability to understand knowledge derived through cognitive development and multiple intelligences. Saettler (2004) described the 30-year period from the 1950s to the 1980s as pivotal for cognitive science and educational technology because of the focus on “knowledge and constructions” (Saettler, 2004, p.319) for enhanced understanding of what was being taught. While Gardner did not begin shedding light until later in the 20th century on the skills and/or intelligences that I am convinced benefit both a face-to-face learning environment and an online environment, I have no doubt the use of technology has helped to kick my learning and that of my students up a notch – thanks to graphic organizers, conceptualization, connectivisim, and other forms of critical-thinking software in the vast arena of multimedia and digital technology.
Thus, as a constructivist in the realm of learner and educator, who constantly but relentlessly pursues experiential ways of optimal points of learning, a tip of the hat certainly goes to Piaget, Vygotsky, and Gardner, among other constructivists, who have figured prominently in my theoretical learning approach. I also a owe great deal to the pragmatism of Dewey (1938; 1997), whose experiential approach to reform and societal change is often a cornerstone for the kind of solid philosophical and pedagogical foundation I need as an educator to keep my students ahead of the learning curve in a burgeoning digital age. As an educator, Dewey’s theoretical approach to learning, coupled with a firm constructivist philosophy, no doubt have aided greatly in the kind of engagement my students so desperately need to yield desired learning outcomes. It is this learning approach I view as critical and non-negotiable in my pedagogical missions.
Dewey, J. (1938; 1997). Experience and education. New York, NY:  Touchstone.
Driscoll, P. (2005). Psychology of learning for instruction (3rd ed.). New York, NY:  Pearson.
Gardner, H. (2003, April). Multiple intelligences after twenty years. Paper presented to the   
           American Educational Research Association, Chicago, IL. Retrieved from
Saettler, P. (2004). The evolution of American educational technology. Greenwich, CT: 
           Information Age Publishing.
The two following blogs regarding "Learning in a Digital World" are blogs on which I comment for Module 6:

Debbie Morris

Martha Bless


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

New Technologies

When I worked with a group of gifted and academically talented middle school students several years ago in a journalism and video production class I was teaching, the last thing I expected was to have to worry about motivation. After all, the widely recognized Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale (Silverman, 2012) of a minimum 130 IQ score connotes the brightest among the brightest, and from my vantage point as a teacher of the gifted, working with a group of self-starters was tantamount to an educational godsend. Or, so I thought.

Fact is, motivation for these bright overachievers, who were delving into multimedia and digital applications, became front and center for the new technologies that ensued. Certainly, my pedagogical technology mission was in no way a given. Initially, the students seemed a bit hesitant, if not apprehensive, about their journalism and video production semester-long mission, until I OK’d the use of personal iPods and MP3s as part of Apple’s iMovie and iDVD software to assemble and complete their class projects. At the time, their high-profile college preparatory magnet middle school had enacted a ban on the use of personal electronics during the school day, and it was only after a request from me for a special exemption to work on their semester-long video projects that there seemed to be a rebirth of interest – and energy.

While the Keller ARCS Model ( Driscoll, 2005) was not a paradigm for my class video production project, it easily could have been based on my motivational techniques that screamed for a quick strategy to expose a group of high-performing learners to new and emerging technologies while making above-average videos and having fun in the process. But even after fully laying out the objectives and the time table for the mission, the thing that really got the ball rolling – and their attention – was the accepted use of personal electronics to complement Macromedia and Apple’s much-ballyhooed multimedia and digital software, including iTunes and GarageBand, with which the video production class had become so enamored, they literally begged to forego adjacent classes to spend more time in the computer lab to work on various projects.

No question, their personal iPods, MP3s, and in some cases their own digital video cameras, were the prime driver or motivation for the video projects, which went on to receive regional and national distinction. The conditions were certainly right for a class that was encouraged to have limitless creativity through words and pictures. But their videos allowed them to tweak, revise, and collaborate as a unit. I wasn’t wrong about the caliber of student I had in these individual units. They were unquestionably smart and determined self-starters, but they liked the motivation and confidence early-on for challenging video project. Once their hesitancy and apprehensions were jettisoned, their behavior was modified and transformed into a conducive learning environment. Motivation and self-regulation in learning (Driscoll, 2005), in reflecting on this memorable but productive experience, is a fitting model for this kind of pedagogical success.


Driscoll, M. (2005). Psychology of learning for instruction. (3rd ed.). New York, NY:  Pearson.

Silverman, L. (2012). How to use the new IQ tests in selecting gifted students. Gifted

           Development Center. Retrieved from


URLs for comments on other classmates' "New Technologies" blogs:

Debbie Morris 

Martha Bless