Creativity is the Fuel

Carole's Blog

EDER 679 Technology and Society: Post #2 The Language of Technology

Filed under: EDER 679.05 September 27, 2012 @ 4:21 pm

Over the past twenty years there has been much talk about 21st Century learning skills and the use of technology in education. It may be the opinion of some people that when planning for the use of technology in a school the language would be focused on software, hardware, inputs, outcomes, information, etc. There would be little consideration of the importance of building, creating or exploring. This cannot be said of the recent work of Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown. In their book, A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change (2011); creating, play and experimentation are all explored in detail. They ask the question, “What if students were asking questions about things that really mattered to them?” (Thomas and Brown, 2011, Ch. 6)

Their invocation is for teachers to develop a new culture of learning designed to meet the needs of students today . “Only when we care about experimentation, play, and questions more than efficiency, outcomes and answers do we have a space that is truly open to the imagination.” (Thomas and Brown, 2011). They see technology as a participatory medium, and that “simply unleashing students on the Internet” doesn’t create a good learning environment “any more than lecturing and testing them more does.” (Chapter 3)

The idea that lecturing and testing are not the roads to good learning is not a new one. Ted Aoki, in his 1987 work Inspiriting the Curriculum (Pinar, Irwin, & Aoki, 2005) writes, that for the work in a classroom to come alive “the curriculum itself has to contain, said or unsaid, an invitation to teachers and students to enter into it.” (p. 362) The idea that what is to be learned “is invited” (Aoki, 2005) into the classroom by both teachers and students is an enticing one; one that I see fits well with Thomas and Brown’s vision of a new culture of learning. Can you see the connection between Aoki’s ‘inviting curriculum in’ and Thomas and Brown’s description of “an environment where learning happens on a continuous basis because the participants are internally motivated to find, share, and filter new information on a near-constant basis.”(Ch. 9)? There is a strong connection between inviting and finding, sharing and filtering new learning.

As a teacher and parent I would like to see us let go of our search for 21st Century learning skills. The 21st Century is here and we need to embrace a “new culture of learning” (Thomas and Brown, 2011) now. We can teach in ways that bring to life the words “where imaginations play, learning happens.” (Thomas and Brown, 2011, Ch. 1)


Pinar, W. F., Irwin, R. F., & Aoki, T. T. (2005). Curriculum in a new key: The collected works of Ted T. Aoki. Mahwah, NJ, USA: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. [Kindle Edition]. doi: 10.4236/ce. 2012.33057

1 Comment »

  1. Elissa:


    I really enjoyed your links between Thomas and Brown’s technology as a participatory environment and Aoki’s invitation for students to learn in curriculum.

    I think one of the gifts that technology gives to us is the ability to invite students into what they are learning and participate in what they are learning. I am amazed at how fast children learn to use technology and how much more adapt they are at it than the adults. I think there are a lot of ways to use technology to engage students in what they are learning. Take for example the use of smartboards ( in classrooms. Smartboards can be used to ceate dynamic presentations that all the students can be involved in. Furthermore, teachers can record the lesson and students can take it home to review at night – maybe to assist with homework. Or imagine a day when all the kids have IPads or similar. A teacher can have everyone playing a game or answering questions together. As students change we have to adapt and change to use technology that matters to them and find ways to reach students on thier level.


RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment

Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>