Guidelines about specific situations and specific ways in which specific technologies are of significant pedagogical benefit

(With case studies from science education)

Peter Taylor
Critical and Creative Thinking Program
Graduate College of Education
May 2001, revised April & June 2002

CONTENTS: Preamble | Guidelines | Case studies | Notes


Teachers should not simply assume that computers and other new technologies are good for education. Our professional development should not try to maximize the technological tools you master in the time available.

Instead, in learning about computers and technology in education, educators need to: In this spirit, our efforts should be addressed at becoming acquainted with using specific computer-based tools, understanding the ideas behind them, evaluating their effectiveness, and developing guidelines about specific situations and specific ways in which specific technologies can be of significant educational benefit. The guidelines presented in this site differ, therefore, from technology standards, which mostly accept that computers and other new technologies are good for education and focus attention on teachers' acquisition of technological proficiency.

The guidelines are illustrated with cases from secondary and college-level science education.
Comments, corrections, and additions welcome (email).

(Additional preamble or Skip ahead to guidelines)

Additional objectives

It is important to acknowledge the context in which educators are having to develop their capacity to use technology effectively in education. Although the information potentially available to anyone with internet access is rapidly expanding, knowledge can be lost in information (as the poet T. S. Eliot observed).

We need to provide tools for ourselves and for students that genuinely enhance learning. Among other things this means -- as always in education -- addressing the diversity of students' intelligences, backgrounds, and interests. In this multi-faceted endeavor, teachers trying to keep up with best practices will find many unevaluated claims and unrealistic expectations, controversy, uncertainty, and rapid change.

In the area of educational technology, therefore -- even more so than in others areas of education -- teachers need to:
In summary, professional development in the area of technology in education should enable educators to better fulfill the needs of your school, community, or organization; address the information explosion; adapt to social changes; and collaborate with others to these ends. (Further notes on objectives b-e)


With the objective in mind of making educationally justified and sustainable choices of when and how to integrate technologies (objective a), these guidelines emphasize the following general ways -- from most important to least -- that college faculty, teachers and/or students can use computers and other technologies as tools in education.

1. To extend thinking of students

2. To facilitate group interaction, e.g., by freeing teacher from the bookkeeping part of class activities

3. To enhance communication of knowledge

4. To organize a personal workstation or "virtual office"

5. To comply with expectations, standards, or expenditures that promote technology use without providing sound pedagogical guidelines.

6. To occupy students' attention while the teacher focuses on other students