Technologies For Learning vs. Technologies For Learners

20 01 2010

In the midst of all of this learning about technological educational tools, I came across a very interesting blog post today.  Stephen Ransom wrote a post entitled “Join The Revolution” on his blog, EdTechTrek.  Ransom talks about the difference between technologies for learning and technologies for learners.  The distinction is in the tools.  Tools we use are learning from tools, or learning with tools.  According to Ransom and David Jonassen, “learning with technologies transforms the responsibility of the learner from receiver to producer, creator, and sender.”

Receiver, producer, creator, and sender.  Learner, maker, designer, communicator.  Aren’t we really all of those things?

I think it is true that some of the technologies teachers use in classrooms today, just to say that they are in the loop and teaching with technology, are simply computerized ways to reinforce existing ways of learning and sharing information.  For those teachers, there is a long path ahead of that landmark that can take them and their students to a place where learning with happens.

It is so important to empower students and give them agency in their own learning.  It is definitely time for teachers to accept (and then be active about) the fact that communicative technologies can be just the tool to encourage the empowerment of students in this way.

If you are interested in this, definitely check out the article by Ransom.




5 responses

4 02 2010
uberVU - social comments

Social comments and analytics for this post…

This post was mentioned on Twitter by courosa: @ransomtech It’s rather cool how my students find good people without out me point them directly to them – like this

21 01 2010

I totally agree, and I look forward to reading the article. I do think though that in certain cases implementing technology in the classroom could have drawbacks that would impede learning. The teacher’s unfamilarity with the technology/ no thought towards adapting to benefit EAL students, etc. Technology can also be a crutch for an under-developed lesson, and so while I DO make every attempt to implement it into lessons and the classroom environment itself, I make sure that its going to facilitate learning, and not become a distraction.

21 01 2010

Very agreed about technology being used sometimes as a crutch for an under-developed lesson. I’ve seen a lot of teachers say they would like to include more technology into their classrooms…and basically all they end up doing is letting the students go onto websites to play games (unrelated to the subject matter I’ll add) and so the students don’t really make the connection to how the technology can help them learn and communicate…they just see it as a free video game. I have to admit I have been guilty of using technology this in the past as well…and it likely stems from a pure lack of knowledge about the real opportunities that are out there for technology. That’s why I’m so thrilled about this ecmp355 class, because it is going to make me so much more capable than I was before. Thanks for commenting!

21 01 2010
Stephen Ransom

Don’t be too hard on yourself, as we have all used technologies in less than powerful ways. Let’s face it. Teachers use all kinds of things in low-level, teacher-directed kinds of ways. What I have found to be so important is to be a teacher who is continually looking to be more effective, create learning experiences that are more meaningful and relevant, and to get out of the way sometimes once I have equipped my students with enough know-how to pursue and create things that are meaningful to them. It is this kind of teacher who looks at new technologies to help both herself and the students do the same. Teachers who want to control every aspect of learning and keep things neat and tidy (easy to plan, manage and grade) tend to use technologies toward that aim (online games, drill and practice activities, flashcards, fill-in-the-blank activities,…). There’s certainly room for a balance in all of this (reality check!), but I’m so glad to see you thinking about using technologies in ways that empower learners in meaningful ways. You’re doing that right now, by the way!

All the best this semester.

21 01 2010


Thanks for the thoughts. I know what you mean about “getting out of the way” sometimes…how can students go anywhere when you are standing right in front of them? I appreciate your thoughts about balance as well. It is so important to keep in mind that everything in life should have a balance…a worthwhile concept for students to learn and value as well. Mostly, thank you for the writing that inspired me to think about this in the first place!


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