It’s Not Just about the Information…


For a while now, there has been an ongoing discussion in the blogosphere about whether it is the technology or the information/learning that’s important. It seems like most people seem to be siding with the information/learning side.

However, following the Handheld Learning 2006 Conference in London, Tony Vincent posted this on the Handheld Learning Forum:

The second item that was pervasive throughout most all of the sessions in the Churchill Auditorium was that the device and software do not matter. I’m here to tell you that they do, especially software. As I said in my session, teachers need to know the abilities and limitations of the learning tools in their classrooms. You can’t expect them to figure it all out on their own time! Educators need training so they can use the devices effectively. Omitting discussion about hardware and software is a disservice because it really is necessary to know what your tools can do and can’t do. Also important in teacher training is classroom/technical management and instructional strategies. Without all of these, embedding handheld learning won’t be very successful.

And when educators go to a conference about technology, they are constantly thinking about how to apply the new tools to learning. Don’t insult them by constantly reiterating it’s about learning…they know-that’s why they are there!  Helping learners is their job and in most instances, it’s their passion.

Tony has a good point, and here was my response at that time:

Yes, the technology does matter, BUT, not to the point where it becomes the [sole] focus of learning. As Tony states in his post, teachers know it’s all about learning, they come to conferences like HH Learning to learn about technology and how to use it for teaching and learning. So… in my view we should be looking for a happy medium between learning and technology, especially when it comes to professional development.

I still stand by this. Information, and how to deal with it, is extremely important, no doubt about that, but I think what many of us are kind of pushing to the back burner sometimes is that technology,

  • has changed the nature of this information. As David Warlick has said, the new information is networked, overwhelming, and never finished. In addition, Judy Breck keeps emphasizing open content.

  • provides access to this new information. Just try to imagine for a minute what it would be like not having the Internet or your cell phone. What information would you not have access to?

  • empowers students. There are plenty of examples of this out there, and I see it on a daily basis in the work that I do.

To me, it’s the combination of mobile devices and networked and open content that is going to be the key for future (and current) learning. And so this means a combination of technology AND information, not just one or the other. And to answer the question that Graham Brown-Martin asked about my discussion with Tony of “whether new technology should attempt to work around existing pedagogy or whether it should inform/stimulate a new one?” I’d say, given the current state of our schools, that we need a new one, badly…


Image Credit: marygrace:


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