By Dr. Nancy Stuewe
Defining Technology in a New Culture of Learning
This paper is the literature review segment of a larger research study on the relationship between teacher, technology and learning; and how to best support teachers in making sense of their experiences with new and emerging technology. How these elements interact in technology rich environments such as the school library learning commons is reviewed through literature from experts in the fields of education, technology, and learning commons to define technology in the context of educational practice, with a reminder that technology brings both hype and humanism to learning within three pre-dominant traditions of educational practice. In the first, a teacher operating in an instructionist tradition may use technology as a delivery or instructional intervention tool where teacher is bearer of knowledge. In the second, a teacher favoring the humanistic tradition may apply technology to meet the needs of student personal questions, connecting to each other, and supporting decision-making. Teachers in the third, constructivist tradition, stress the importance of self-awareness of learning and knowing through inquiry; where technology functions as a pathway for learning rather than a delivery or personal communication vehicle. This tradition reflects the approach of the learning commons perspective of individual and collective knowledge construction and collaborative learning models linking teaching and learning in an intricate process. Here teachers do not need to be experts with technology but need a working knowledge and willingness to try, to collaborate and become architects of learning.
Dr. Nancy Stuewe’s philosophy of teaching and learning is rooted within a constructivist framework that promotes technology as a pathway for understanding. A common element of constructivism for education is that meaningful learning with technology is an active experiential process of construction that teachers participate in. Nancy has recently retired for teaching and learning with the Calgary Board of Education. She has been an elementary classroom teacher; a learning leader to support 21st century learning, a teacher technologist and most recently enjoyed a learning commons role. She is also a graduate of the University of Calgary with an Ed. D in Educational Technology. Current ways of thinking about knowledge and work suggest that teachers are being challenged to entertain unfamiliar and innovative technology in their learning environments. As a researcher I am concerned with understanding how to support teachers in making sense of their experience with new technologies. I also see technology as a powerful partner in teaching and learning and an element of human life worthy of reflection. Underpinning all of this is my belief that people, not technology will guide us to a happier planet.