George Lucas Educational Foundation

Technology-Enhanced Learning: Between Pedagogical Priority and Technological Concern

Technology-Enhanced Learning: Between Pedagogical Priority and Technological Concern

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Dear educators,

I am currently working in a small project to assist a school enhancing their current practice in technology-enhanced learning (TEL). While doing some surveys, I found an interesting issue which I really appreciate to hear opinions from the educational community about it.

In this school and I assume many other schools around the country, teachers have the freedom to choose which device, hardware, software, learning environment system etc they want to use in supporting their teaching and the students' learning. This is good because it removes limitation for the teachers to be creative, and simply use the technology they are familiar and comfortable with. This freedom puts pedagogical needs at the higher priority as it should be in designing and implementing TEL.

But at the same time, it gives headache to the technological team to provide infrastructure that is compatible with all different types of hardware and software.

I saw around the interactive whiteboard, there are so many cables and adapters especially for wireless streaming display. To sort this thing out, it takes time and such fussiness jeopardise the purpose of TEL itself. I assume some teachers might choose not to use the facilities they have, to save time.

How to balance between these two concerns?

Do you have similar experience?

Should school limits the technology into single 'package' or single 'brand' of product?

What do you think?

Your opinion is very much appreciated.

Slavin (2008) stated that:

"Throughout the history of education, the adoption of instructional programs and practices has been driven more by ideology, faddism, politics, and marketing than by evidence."(p. 5)

Thank you. 

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Comments (7) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

Kevin Jarrett's picture
Kevin Jarrett
Maker Educator, Google Certified Innovator & Trainer, Dreamer, Doer. Learning experience designer, workshop leader/speaker, author. Stanford #Fablearn Fellow. #GoogleEI #GoogleET

Hi, Hasrizal. I'm a teacher, not an Technology Coordinator or anyone with responsibility for infrastructure in my school, but I'll share my thoughts.

In my experience, most schools rely on standardization for precisely the reasons you mention. There will always be people who, by virtue of personal preference and/or expertise, will introduce their own devices into the mix. Doing so is usually harmless but can sometimes negatively impact infrastructure and service quality for the rest of the campus. That's clearly bad news for everyone. Finally, anyone who brings their own gear into a school knows they're on their own for tech troubleshooting.

Teachers should not have to worry about technology. (HA! In our DREAMS...) It just needs to work. Reliably, consistently, without fuss or fanfare. Every moment tweaking a device is one less moment that can be spent on instruction. Schools know this. Most I know work hard to provide the best environment (hardware / software / support) they can. It's hard. And it's expensive.

Standardization (perhaps with minor exceptions) is really the only way to go.

Hope this helps.


Dan Callahan's picture
Dan Callahan
Professional Learning Specialist, Edcamper, Graduate Professor

Standardization is certainly a lot easier, but there are plenty of good bring your own device (BYOD) schools which manage to handle a huge variety of tools, so it's not impossible.

The question I always come back to is "What do we want teaching and learning to look like?" Do most of the teachers like the scattershot approach, or are they feeling stressed out by having so many options? Has your school had a conversation about the kind of pedagogy it wants to offer students, and if it's providing the right tools to meet those needs? There are legitimately good reasons for standardizing around 1 or two devices, but even choosing that device is a choice between which set of compromises you're willing to make on the technology front, and you should choose the devices that best matches the kind of teaching and learning that the community wants to happen. At the same time, there are legitimately good reasons to have a BYOD approach, some of which you've already outlined.

Hasrizal's picture
A School Teacher and a Lifelong Learner

Thank you Kevin Jarrett and Dan Callahan for your kind response. I am looking into many keywords you included. Even though standardisation seems very convincing as how the solution should be, Dan's point of view must also be taken into a serious consideration. I am very new to this subject.

I believe a clear pedagogical and technological scripts when designing a technology-enhanced learning is very important. From there, we will see what are the actual outcomes we want to achieve, with clear idea on the learning theory and model, the approach to deliver, and which technology fits best.

I want to study more on this and hopefully more responses will arrive from educators in the community.

Thank you again.


ACuevas's picture

Hello, I am an elementary teacher and I would like to share my thought about this topic.
Over the years technology has increased at a rapid pace. Its presence in the classroom is becoming essential to teach our digital natives. This is the reason why many teachers are relying on technology to engage students and to make their learning relevant to them. How can one balance the freedom of choosing the technology they feel comfortable with and the pedagogical needs of the students? I believe one should always ask themselves what will be the learning outcome of the students? and if the technology enhances their learning? If a teacher can answer these questions then the students learning needs are a priority.
I believe that a school should not limit the technology used by teachers. If a teacher feels comfortable using a specific technology they should do so. The reason why I believe this is because teacher's attitudes are perceived in their teaching. That is why teachers should have a positive attitude towards technology. With the advances of the WWW, one can use multiple tools available for classroom use. There is no need to buy additional gadgets or accessories. There are also many open educational resources available for teachers. If teachers wish to be the change agents they will find ways to troubleshoot their technical problems without affecting their students learning. We cannot wait till someone answers all of our questions. I personally try to include technology in my classroom with the tools available to me. I use Chromebooks and different web tools like Kahoot, Powtoon, and Moovly. In the book Adding Some TECH-Variety one can find many activities which can be applied into today's classroom. Dr. Bonk and Elaine Khoo mention that "we need a vision or target to shoot for or an overriding goal to work towards" (2014, p.255). Setting a goal for ourselves to use technology regardless of the tension, problems or obstacles we may face is just the beginning. In chapter 12 of TECH-Variety, the main focus is tension and how teachers can encourage students to debate topics using different applications and web tools such as online journals, newsletters, and blogs. These in addition to the many tips, resource and support from colleagues can help us reduce tensions regarding the use of technology in the classroom.

Bonk, C. J., & Khoo, E. G. (2014). Adding some TEC-VARIETY: 100 activities for motivating and retaining learners online. Bloomington, IN: Open World Books.

Audrey's picture

Hi Everyone,

I am a highschool teacher working with low-income students in a school that wants to be innovative with technology. I say "wants" to be, because I feel like the school tries to bring in technology for teachers to use, but does not think about what teachers can then do with that technology. We have chromebooks and wifi for teachers to utilize throughout the school (we are not a 1-1 building, teachers check out the chromebooks for the class periods they need and not every teacher can use them at once) but we don't have programs or games, or apps for students to use once they have access to the chromebooks.

So in my case the school has been standardized and we use the same kind of technology throughout the school. Students do bring their own technology to class in the form of a smartphone, but not 100% of students have phones.

Is standardization right? I'm not sure. I know that in my particular school, teachers are not required to use the chromebooks, so some teachers are not utilizing technology at all in their lessons unless they have students using their own device.

This is where I have a concern. I understand and appreciate that teachers have the right to create their own lessons and they should be able to implement their lessons how they want. But times are changing and if technology is available to teachers to use, I believe it is the teacher's responsibility to incorporate technology into their classroom at sometime or another. Students in this day and age seem to have been born with an iPad, or cellphone in hand and teachers need to develop and structure their classes to meet the needs of a population who understand and learn through using technology. To quote the "Free E-book: Adding Some TEC-VARIETY" by Curtis J. Bonk and Elaine Khoo, "Instead of concerning yourself with tackling an assembly of technology tools to foster tension and cognitive dissonance, you might think about how you can structure fully online and blended courses for intense discussions, debates, and challenges using the technologies you are already comfortable with. At the same time, you should push your students out of their comfort zones" (237). Here Bonk and Khoo suggest that a teacher utilize technologies they are "comfortable" with. Which I agree a teacher can do, however, that means a teacher continues to follow with the time and understand what technologies students are familiar with and can use to learn from. If teachers are going to push their students out of their "comfort zones", teachers need to be willing to learn new and upcoming technologies as well. This can happen in two ways, by either learning how to utilize the standardized technology brought into the school, or by bringing in technology either with BYOD or finding devices they are comfortable with themselves and picking their own technology to use in the classroom.

In summary, teachers need to keep up with the times and culture of our students. So depending on the way they can bring technology into the classroom - either by picking what technology they can use, or utilizing a standardized set of tools - technology needs to be brought into the classrooms of today.

Source - Bonk, C. J., & Khoo, E. G. (2014). Adding some TEC-VARIETY: 100 activities for motivating and retaining learners online. Bloomington, IN: Open World Books.

This book is free and can be accessed here:

tkowis's picture

I am currently a Pre-K teacher at a private preschool. We have two computers, one laptop, and one smartboard in our little school. We are extremely lucky and grateful to have these technologies to use in our curriculum. Most of the students love to use the smartboard while others enjoy using the computers more.

My students use the smartboard and the computer in our classroom to build on their technology skill as well as enforce their already learned curriculum. For instance, games that match capital letters with lower-case letters. A number of bubbles need to be matched with the correct number. My students love these types of games. As with any video game, my students become enthused when they are able to complete a part of a game they had been unable to complete before. To quote TEC-VARIETY students are "motivated to pass a particularly difficult level or challenge within a game" (p. 252). Motivation is extremely important when it comes to keeping out student's interest. The more they are motivated, the more they are willing and ready to learn.

While reading this article I came to the conclusion that teachers should never limit themselves to one "package or single brand of product". This is because one group of students may not respond to the type of device or brand of product that is being used. Then again, a different group of students may respond to the type of device or brand of product better than the first group. We need to cater to our student's learning needs and learning styles. This being said, I do not think that we should also clutter our classrooms with several bulky products or devices. A study could be conducted to see which products reach out to the students better than the rest. This will help weed through the current products and give researchers and developers something to go by as they create new technologies for our students to use.

Curtis J. Bonk and Elaine Khoo. (2014). Adding Some TECH-VARIETY: 100+ Activities for Motivating and Retaining Learners Online. Retrieved from:

Vianca's picture


I currently teach in Title 1 elementary school that is trying to incorporate more technology. My district is providing classrooms with ChromeBooks, for those teachers that successfully complete an intense training. This is a step forward because students always get excited to use them. I try to incorporate technology as much as possible by allowing students to conduct research, play Kahoot games, watch BrainPop videos and use math websites such as MobyMax.

With many technological advances, our students and teachers should try to incorporate technology into the curriculum. Of course, when we think technology, we automatically start thinking about all the problems and hassles that can arise. At first, I was guilty of this, but I've come to learn that there really is no way of messing up with technology. We should lose the fear of using technology and thinking that in a way, we can break it. With this said, I believe that teachers should have the freedom to choose what technology tools or software should be used within the classroom. As teachers, we know what works best for our students and their interests. I understand that some teachers are afraid of using technology for so many reasons, but in my opinion, that's not an excuse. Now a day, one can search for a solution to a problem by asking Google or searching for videos on YouTube.

In the book Adding Some TECH-Variety one can find many activities which can be applied into today's classroom. Dr. Bonk and Elaine Khoo suggest that technology can become a source of student engagement by offering many tools for teachers to utilize. Bonk and Khoo (2014) mention that "technologies can excite and involve the learner in many ways online" (pg. 212). As educators, we should strive to do what is best for our students, even if that involves searching for solutions to technology issues.

Bonk, C. J., & Khoo, E. G. (2014). Adding some TEC-VARIETY: 100 activities for motivating and retaining learners online. Bloomington, IN: Open World Books.

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