Successful Tech Integration following Bloom's Taxonomy: an Oxymoron?

It's difficult to talk about assessment without having "Bloom's Taxonomy" pop up eventually, and that's a good thing. Bloom's is proven and believed in, and gives us a structure that makes sense and we can follow. When talking about integrating technology, however, I think there's a great irony with the framework. (Note, this is strictly my opinion, based on my own experience and observation). Using technology should make it easier to get to the top levels of the taxonomy, or perhaps it's better to say that with technology the top levels are more accessible to more students. The irony is that we spend so much time in the bottom two layers learning the technology we never get much higher than apply. The pyramid implies that we have to start at the bottom and move our way up. With many things I believe that's true. But when it comes to integrating technology, I think we need a different image. What works for me is a unicycle.
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It's difficult to talk about assessment without having "Bloom's Taxonomy" pop up eventually, and that's a good thing. Bloom's is proven and believed in, and gives us a structure that makes sense and we can follow.

When talking about integrating technology, however, I think there's a great irony with the framework. (Note, this is strictly my opinion, based on my own experience and observation).

Using technology should make it easier to get to the top levels of the taxonomy, or perhaps it's better to say that with technology the top levels are more accessible to more students. The irony is that we spend so much time in the bottom two layers learning the technology we never get much higher than apply.

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The pyramid implies that we have to start at the bottom and move our way up. With many things I believe that's true. But when it comes to integrating technology, I think we need a different image. What works for me is a unicycle.

A unicycle is a difficult vehicle to learn and takes time to master. It required patience, perseverance, balance, commitment, courage, desire... When learning you have moments of greatness followed by spectacular crashes. As you get better and continue to practice and learn there are more moments and fewer crashes, and ultimately you are solid; you know what you are doing and do it with confidence.. People stop and watch you and want to do what you are doing. It's exhilarating, and an awful lot like integrating technology into your teaching.

If we simply overlay Bloom's Taxonomy onto a unicycle, though, it doesn't really work. Here's how I see it...

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Each of the parts of a unicycle are important, but none of them are much good independent of the others.

Remembering and Understanding are the spokes of the wheel--they are what support the whole thing. Without spokes, a wheel collapses, just as a project does if the designer doesn't know how to use the tools.

Applying, Analyzing, Evaluating and Creating are the wheel itself--this is what makes the unicycle mobile. Without a wheel you don't go anywhere, you don't make progress, you end up in the same place you started, just as a student does if she never reaches these skills.

What prevents the unicycle from simply hanging in the garage, tantalizing people, however, is a skilled rider, a teacher. A unicycle needs someone with core strength and balance, perseverance and commitment, vision and desire, exactly what a tech integration project needs.

And here's the deal...both a unicycle and a tech integration project are greater than the sum of their parts. When pulled apart, the pieces are just pieces, but when taken as a whole and worked on together, really cool things happen.

 - Susan Williams, Professional Learning Designer

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