As part of my coursework for my Masters in Educational Technology, I have been reading the work of American philosopher John Dewey. In the first few chapters of his book Experience and Education The Kappa Delta Pi Lecture Series, he focuses on issues of traditional and progressive learning theory and practice in the context of educational endeavors. He comments on the disconnect that may exist between the knowledge that adults impart to new generations and the practical applications and relevance that the new generations attribute to such knowledge. According to Dewey (1998), neither traditional nor progressive education can address the dilemmas that arise in the learning process as these are connected to the context of new and relevant experiences. It is in the process of new experiences that knowledge acquires meaning and purpose for the new generations.
The old is made new by a process of interpretation and adaptation within practical contexts. This is an area where teachers have a great responsibility because "teachers are the organs through which pupils are brought into effective connection with the material. They are the agents through which knowledge and skills are communicated (p.18)".
Some of the current issues with technology integration in classroom settings can be understood through the lense of Dewey's work. Technology functions as a bridging gap between adults and young learners to make the knowledge practical, relevant, and accessible to the new generations through platforms that revamp old textbook material and lengthy boring lectures into interactive adaptive materials that students can enjoy and engage with. Dewey (1998) proposes to focus on experiential contexts to make learning relevant to the youth. Nevertheless, he also offers a word of caution in regards to experiences as not all experiences offer quality in the learning process. "An experience may be immediately enjoyable and yet promote the formation of a slack and carelessness attitude (p. 25)". This rings true when we as teachers, allow students to carelessly use electronic devices in the classroom or allow the use of technology without an adequate pedagogical approach or learning objective in mind. It has been proven that the use of technology for the sake of technology does not provide students with adequate experiences to successfully apply learned skills in the real world. It is imperative that teachers strongly rely on their content area pedagogical training and best practices when choosing digital experiences for their students in the classroom setting.
Dewey, J. (1998). Experience and education. Kappa Delta Pi.