“We refer to a way of life in an integrated domain where hunches, cut-and-try, intangibles, and the human ‘feel for a situation’ usefully coexist with powerful concepts, streamlined technology and notation, sophisticated methods, and high-powered electronic aids.” – Douglas Engelbart, 1962

In the Digital Age learning should drive tools, not the other way around. And yet we continue to struggle with tools that don’t really fit what’s going on in a modern classroom. This is a central conundrum that has always frustrated me as both a technologist and educator. There are three critical issues that drive this gap.

First, as educators we have been trained to live with the shortcomings of the tools given to us because in many cases they were products of a general purpose approach to outfitting classrooms and creating pedagogical support materials. This has persisted into the age of customization that digital technology offers us.

How can pedagogy drive digital tools?

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Second, the toolmakers often have a poor understanding of how effective pedagogy works. Therefore, they frequently design around stereotypical or archaic versions of how a classroom works. At worst, they pay scant attention it and use corporate models for designing products for learning because the educational market represents such a small percentage of their business.

About the Author:

Tom Haymes is a technologist, photographer, teacher, social scientist, project manager, and educational technology leader. He was design lead for Houston Community College’s West Houston Institute and is author of the forthcoming book Discovering Digital Humanity (ATBOSH Media). His website is ideaspaces.net and he tweets at @ideaspacesnet.


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