Why technology?

The integration of technology into classroom practice is not new (see Bigum, 2012; Cox, 2012; Roblyer & Doering, 2014). This is hardly surprising, given both the presence of technology in our everyday lives and the opportunity that its use provides in terms of managing and organising learning (see Bigum, 2012; MCEETYA, 2008). Indeed, even the much discussed distinction between digital immigrants (teachers) and digital natives (students) (Voogt, Knezek, Cox, Knezek & Brummelhuis, 2011) is almost obsolete as both staff and students become increasingly comfortable with adapting to and using new technologies in ‘perpetual beta’ as digital citizens in non-school environments (Stanley, 2013). As far as the use of technology in Australian schools is concerned, “the future is here, it is just not evenly distributed yet” (Gibson in Bigum, 2012).

While not a great deal of quantitative evidence exists concerning the effect size of technology on student learning (Hattie, 2009), some teachers attest that the use of technology as a learning tool has improved the metacognition, the motivation  and the access of their students to educational resources and – in some cases – school (Voogt et al., 2011). It is not certain that the integration of technology into classroom practice will universally improve learning outcomes. It is certain that technology has – and will continue – to change the way learning is delivered (Bigum, 2012).

Perhaps the question for schools and teachers is not singularly ‘why technology’, but also ‘how and in which context can it best be harnessed to improve learning’. To this end, Graham Stanley has created an excellent checklist to guide teachers in integrating technology into their classroom practice (excerpt below):

       The Five Ws’

  1. Why use the technology? In other words, don’t just use it because it is there. Are you trying to do something with the technology that can be better done in without?
  2. Who is the technology best for? If learners, then what age/level/discipline? If you are suggesting other teachers use the technology, then you should say how much teaching/tech experience/training is required to use it effectively?
  3. What is the technology best used for? It is worth considering if there is another technology that can be used instead that may better suit the learning objectives.
  4. Where should it be used? Is it more suitable for the classroom / connected classroom (i.e. with one computer and the Internet) / computer room / at home? Think also about classroom management issues here. Where in the classroom is the tech to be used (i.e. if you are filming with a camera) and, if appropriate, what will the other learners be doing when one or some are using the technology (i.e. will they also be engaged?)
  5. When should the technology be used? Not only when is the best moment during the class to use the technology (at the beginning/end/etc.), but also when in the term/syllabus (it is best if used to enhance and complement what you are already doing with the learners, rather than be used as an added extra).
  6. How should the technology be used? This shouldn’t just be about what to do, but also how best to incorporate the technology into your class.

Read the full article on Graham Stanley’s blog here.


Chapter 2 Schools and Computers: Tales of a Digital Romance in Bigum, C. (2012). Transformative Approaches to New Technologies and Student Diversity in Futures Oriented Classrooms. L. Rowan and C. Bigum, Springer Netherlands.

Cox, M.J. (2012), Formal to informal learning with IT: research challenges and issues for e-learning. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning.

Hattie, J. (2009). Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement (1st ed.). Oxon: Routledge.

Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA). (2008). Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians. Retrieved from: http://apo.org.au/node/29859

Roblyer, M., & Doering, A. (2014). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching: International Edition, 6th Edition, Pearson.

Stanley, G. (2013). Language Learning with Technology: Ideas for Integrating Technology in the Classroom (Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers). Cambridge University Press.

Voogt J., Knezek G., Cox M.J., Knezek D.& Brummelhuis A. (2011) Under which conditions does ICT have a positive effect on teaching and learning? A call to action. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning. 15 November 2011

  • Julia Treacy
    January 23, 2017

    Hi Benita

    Thanks for my week 2 blog comment! I appreciate the link to your blog and I’ve just through the Stanley checklist which is quite useful and while I think some of those come up naturally when deciding on technology to use, it does help to have a mental process to make sure you’re using the resource you’ve selected wisely. When it came to the week 4 module, I really enjoyed deconstructing ideas of connectivism, the issue of equity in the case of BYOD and whether QR codes are meaningful when placed in the classroom. Here is the link if you want to have a read


    • Benita Rowe
      January 23, 2017

      Hi Julia, thanks for your comment and for sharing the link to your blog article on connectivism, equity, BYOD and QR codes. I just read it and really enjoyed it – it was great to hear about your first hand experience with BYOD in a secondary school setting. I completely agree with your position on iPads – in a low equity environment they are not the most economic or sustainable choice. I’m working on an m-learning/ BYOD project that is being rolled out across Afghanistan at the moment – we have students with the latest Android phones, students with feature phones and some which share one phone per family. Internet connectivity is an issue. We (Ustad Mobile) are using open source software to create an app that enables students to experience interactive video-based simulations that work on smartphones, feature phones and PCs. Uniquely it’s possible to load the app and receive usage data offline with automatically managed peer-to-peer connections. The app will be freely available so I’ll let you know when it’s released. You can use the software to create your own content (at no cost) so if you’re interested in giving it a test run let me know. Cheers! Benita

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