Learning Beliefs

    In contemporary society, innovation is key to success, and an education should foster the necessary skills for innovation. Innovation can be described as the process by which new ideas are created. Being that "innovation" refers to either a process or idea or product that does not exist yet, it cannot be taught by simply memorizing facts or steps for procedures. Essentially, one cannot learn innovation in of itself. However, one can learn how to be innovative by practicing the necessary skills required for creating innovations. Such skills are outline by the Common Core, which promotes higher order thinking abilities in order to create solutions for authentic problems. 


    Evaluation, analysis and creation are among the skills which the Common Core places most emphasis. Evaluative and analytical abilities are necessary for creation, and thus, innovation. However, of the skills mentioned, the former two refer to abstract processes; analysis and evaluation take place in the mind, whereas creation is a resulting physical manifestation of those processes. As such, it is important for the resulting creation to have some type of relevance in a variety of real-world settings, and technology can provide teachers and students with this. This is indicative of constructivist and constructionist teaching philosophies. Traditionally, education has emphasized the memorization and recitation of facts and the ability to follow procedures. Higher order thinking skills would be practiced, but the resulting product or creation would be an essay, more times than not. Constructivist and constructionist methods of teaching, on the other hand, emphasize "...how knowledge is constructed in our heads..." and "...the role of constructions in the world as a support for those in the head" (Bers, 2008, p. 15). Essentially, these teaching philosophies deal with how ideas are conceived, as well as creating a context for authentic applications of these ideas, which go beyond simply writing an essay. 



    Though expressing one's self in written language is important and an authentic application of one's analytical and evaluative abilities, there must be more options for the application of these higher order thinking skills, and they must more closely resemble products that can be created in a variety of professional fields. This invokes the idea of powerful ideas, which "...afford new ways of thinking, new ways of putting knowledge to use, and new ways of making personal and epistemological connections with other domains of knowledge" (Bers, 2008, p. 23). Technology provides both teachers and students with a plethora of software and applications that can be used to this effect. Basic coding programs such as Scratch can provide students with authentic applications of x and y intercepts, as well as knowledge of angles. Movie editing software, such as iMovie, can provide students with the ability to convey information flexibly and dynamically. They can create advertisements for movies which utilize Common Core standards, by including quotes or depicting images which demonstrate how the characters actions advance the plot, in order to pique the audience's curiosity. Moreover, the capacity to convey and perceive information, which technology offers, makes it evident that "...new technologies can be liberators or incubators of powerful ideas...by making them more powerful and accessible to to a wide range of people" (Bers, 2008, p. 24). Essentially, there are myriad authentic applications of Common Core skills, and technology can be used to simulate various situations, in which they can be applied by many different types of learners, with various learning styles. Since technology allows for a variety of ways to present and perceive information, learners of all varieties benefit as well. 

    Aside from providing students with authentic applications for Common Core skills, technology also provides students with a variety of platforms for collaboration. This is especially important, as the practicing of Common Core skills is conducive to collaboration, as they involve complex thought processes. Various modes of communication, such as Google Docs and e-mail make it easy for students to share and build off of one another's ideas. Approaching instruction and coursework in such a way teaches students how to think, as opposed to what to think, and that is the purpose of education. By using technology as a means by which students can collaborate to apply Common Core skills to create a meaningful product, students learn how to think and work together to solve problems, thus establishing and building on a foundation of skills required for the act of innovation. 

    Of course, proper use of technology for one's own growth must be modeled as well. As such, teachers, technology coordinators, and administrators must also take advantage of available technology to convey information to both students and each other. Doing so promotes professional growth, as this will involve keeping up with the latest trends in technology and sharing best practices with many colleagues at once. Of particular note, is Frazier's (2012) comment about lifelong learning. He states that "...a technology's coordinator's most useful skill is a lifelong dedication to learning...to learn and adapt to myriad situations serves...well" (Frazier, 2012, p. 415). Of course, the utility of this skill applies to all individuals, in general. As technology can facilitate the process of lifelong learning, through various media, it is most prudent to consider technology tools as invaluable pedagogical resources. 


Bers, M. U. (2008). Blocks to robots: Learning with technology in the early childhood classroom. New York, New York: Teachers College Press.

Frazier, M. (2012). The technology coordinator's handbook (2nd edition). Washington, DC: International Society for Technology in Education.