Santa and Bloom’s Taxonomy

I had to smile when I took a look at the above.  I was thinking while walking and made myself a verbal note and this was what was recorded.

Of course, we know about both.  Bloom’s Taxonomy is rich and based on solid research and has been revised as deeper understanding has been reached.  Santa, well, we know where that is based.

The reality is that this isn’t what I had told my phone to record.  I had actually said “SAMR and Bloom’s Taxonomy”.  I had read yet another article talking about the research that had gone into the SAMR model.  Like many others, I’ve tried to find that research with no success.  It’s a model put forth that parts of the edtech world have embraced.  In my search for the research, I’ve read a great deal of criticism that the developer, Ruben R. Puentedura, has a doctorate in chemistry.  Now, it’s not unusual for people to use their expertise in other fields, so I don’t have a problem with that.  It’s the lack of research and how the model has been treated as gospel that has always concerned me.

Quoting the model, it’s not difficult to find charts of apps categorized by the levels in the model.  Or, statements made that educational decisions are made for the acquisition of hardware, software, or training because of the model.  Or, that teachers need to be teaching “above the line”, referring to the dotted line in the commonly shared graphic.

The model is often promoted because of its simplicity in demonstrating technology use.

One thing has always bothered me about this model – the descriptors talk about technology and its use.  “tech allows” or “tech acts”.

The power of education is that the teaching professional in the classroom has the skills to differentiate instruction and to try to reach every child in the classroom.  She/He brings everything within reach to the process, including technology, and uses it appropriately to coax the best in learning.  This model doesn’t address that.  The fact that it starts with a description of the technology and not the student or the learner does a disservice to the classroom professional.  It is so different from the way that expectations are written in the Ontario Curriculum.

If you haven’t already, you need to read George Siemen’s post “Adios Ed Tech. Hola something else” at least twice and consider his words and experiences within the classroom context.  It’s a tribute to the profession that educators are always looking for ways to improve teaching and learning.  If you’re a follower of educational technology, it’s not difficult to find something new.  But, anything that’s adopted needs to be done so because it improves the learning.  Mr. Siemen’s advice in the middle of the post needs to be constantly running through your minds as an important caveat.

In education though, the opposite is happening: educational technology is not becoming more human; it is making the human a technology. Instead of improving teaching and learning, today’s technology re-writes teaching and learning to function according to a very narrow spectrum of single, de-contextualized skills.

I’ve always declared that technology use for students can either allow them to do things differently or allows them to do different things.  The operative part is that it enables the student; not that a particular technology can fit into a four part rubric and evaluated appropriately.

Great minds that I’ve always respected have taught me to “challenge everything” and “do your research” before leaping.  It’s disappointing to now see them embracing a model that focuses on the technology and a “one size fits all approach” instead of starting with the individual student’s needs.

Being on the cutting edge doesn’t always mean embracing the latest and greatest.  Miguel Guhlin does a nice job of bringing some opposing thoughts to the SAMR bandwagon in this post.

If you’re looking for a good starting point, revisit Bloom’s Taxonomy and consider the individual student.  As a good friend of mine is so fond of saying “consider who owns the learning” – in this case, is it the student or is it the technology?

3 thoughts on “Santa and Bloom’s Taxonomy

  1. A great post Doug, and one that should motivate educators to think deeply about how tech is used. I’m not a fan of the apps in Bloom (or SAMR) charts because the apps themselves are tools, not the results. Simple apps, and even non-tech like popsicle sticks, can be used to achieve great demonstrable learning events (Bloom is about assessment after all), and the shiniest apps and tech can be used solely for recall. Tech is an amplifier, and it amplifies dwelling on recall just as much as it can amplify creativity and inspiration. Keep challenging us to think and not just put up posters.

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  2. I was thinking about this the other day when my Grade 7 class and I were putting together a tweet in French to send to the Louvre on “ask a curator” day. What I was happy about was the the technology of Twitter was allowing us to access a curator at the Louvre, and have the opportunity to figure out what we wanted to ask in our second language. Having an authentic interaction with someone in Paris which led to them sending us an animated video, in French, which answered our question, was something that simply wouldn’t have been on the radar at all in the past. I’m hoping it’s going to encourage my students to start to think about who else we might communicate with, and where inquiry could take us in French. It gives us another took in our toolbox of learning, but it’s certainly not the only one.

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