Defining Contemporary Educational Technology

Classroom“Classroom” by James F Clay is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

When first thinking about what contemporary educational technology entails, I thought of all the modern digital technologies being used in classrooms today to either teach or support the learning of students. For example, SMART boards, online learning environments, Chromebooks, and the Google Suite, just to name a few. However, after our most recent EC&I 833 class and some further reading, my thoughts on this term have changed significantly.

There is a great historical basis to the current technologies and methodologies being used in classrooms today. During class we learned that centuries ago Aristotle described three different types of knowledge.

Episteme- scientific and universal knowledge

Techne- technical knowledge

Phronesis- practical knowledge

By recognizing that there are different types of knowledge it makes sense that there are different ways of acquiring this knowledge. In modern times, this idea that there are different kinds of knowledge and different ways of acquiring this knowledge could be summed up using the TPAK model.

This model demonstrates how technology with a pedagogical directive can be used to deliver and facilitate learning. Another way of looking a the different types of knowledge and ways of acquiring it is through Dale’s Cone of Experience.

During class, I found it to be very interesting that none of the information found on Dale’s Cone of Experience is scientifically sound, yet is often used for instructional directives. It does however provide a good visual for different ways of using media.

Through the examination of different kinds of media we began to discuss the difference between soft vs hard technologies. Hard technologies are those such as a refrigerator or basic telephone. Soft technologies are those in which the user has control and can manipulate such as the modern iPhone and its many apps and tools that can be used. Our professor Alec made an important point stating that “creativity belongs in the mind of the person using it”. This made me think of all the different kinds of technology we use in the classroom that might not be deemed “technological” but are in fact a kind of technology.

In the article called A short history of educational technology, the author Tony Bates discusses the different types of educational technology that have been used throughout the centuries, starting with oral communication, to written, to radio and TV and right into today’s digital age and the dawn of social media. To some extent all of these different types of technology are being used in classrooms today. A point in the reading that really stood out to me was that “new technology rarely completely replaces old technology”.

I read an article awhile back titled How the Ballpoint Pen Killed Cursive, written by Josh Giesbrecht. The article examines how the design of the ballpoint pen better supports printing, while its predecessor, the fine point pen with its fast and smooth running ink was a great tool for handwriting. Now while cursive writing is no longer in the school curriculum, I sill think there is a need for students and adults alike to know how to hand write in certain situations. For example, when a person needs to sign their name for a passport, driving license or when writing a cheque for the bank. I believe that a handwritten name is part of a person’s identity. This demonstrates that while a new technology ay not fully replace an old technology, certain skills may become lost or no longer deemed necessary when new more “efficient” technologies are developed.

I agree with Giesbrecht that through the “process of examining the historical use of ordinary technologies as a way to understand contemporary ones”. In conclusion, when I think of what contemporary educational technology entails I think of all the different means teachers and students alike use to learn, create and gain knowledge about the world around them. I think that students benefit from using a variety of technologies both old and new to gain the knowledge they need to be successful in today’s society; after all one size doesn’t fit all.


6 thoughts on “Defining Contemporary Educational Technology”

  1. I am still amazed that handwriting is not included in curriculum, like printing. But what surprises me even MORE, is that typing is not included in curriculum either. I remember being in grade 4, and we had 4 computers in the classroom (which seemed big back in 2002) and we had All The Right Type running almost all day. There were typing tests and my teacher would watch us to make sure we were actually doing it correctly. A digital literacy. And now, it pains me to see students ‘chicken pecking’ at the keyboard and creating large documents. Even a colleague of mine (25 years my senior) still pecks at his laptop and is constantly amazed at how quickly I can edit, adapt, or dictate.
    Are we really preparing students for the up and coming work force without using some of the fundamental basics of teaching (learning how to print, then handwrite, and now in the 21st centruy… type)?!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know it truly boggles my mind! I am very surprised that typing is not being taught in classrooms today. I am not sure about high schools, but in elementary schools there are no computer classes being taught either. I know that many children struggled the last part of last year with all of the digital resources and platforms teachers were using. I feel technology is a great tool, but some skills still need to be taught, like typing for these types of technologies to be truly effective.


  2. Great post. I agree that technology should be viewed as tools and as teachers we need to understand how different tools work, help students use a variety of tools, and most importantly allow students to use the tool that best helps them construct and understand their knowledge. Will even ‘signing’ something like a check or license even matter in future … might be a finger print, encrypted code, or something harder to forge? Will typing be a premium with dictation … see many kiddos use two fingers pretty fast too.


    1. In today’s world I could definitely see finger prints or encrypted codes being used for identity. I saw this article the other day (not sure how reliable it is) but the company injected microchips into the employees. Using these microchips the employees have access to the building, vending machines etc. Personally, I am not sure how I feel about this type of technology, but definitely could be used for identity purposes in the future.
      This is the article:

      Liked by 1 person

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