Open Thinkering


Tools and processes

I see this a lot.

Blooms Taxonomy - Web 2 (CC BY-ND Samantha Penney)

(click for larger version)

I appreciate the sentiment here. It’s an educator trying to share some tools in an organised way with some other educators. But mapping them against Bloom’s Taxonomy. Really?

Bloom’s Taxonomy is a classification of learning objectives within education proposed in 1956 by a committee of educators chaired by Benjamin Bloom.


It refers to a classification of the different objectives that educators set for students (learning objectives). Bloom’s Taxonomy divides educational objectives into three “domains”: Cognitive, Affective, and Psychomotor (sometimes loosely described as knowing/head, feeling/heart and doing/hands respectively). Within the domains, learning at the higher levels is dependent on having attained prerequisite knowledge and skills at lower levels.

(Wikipedia, accessed 21 February 2012)

Why is Flickr under Remembering when it can be used for mashups under a Creative Commons license? Surely VoiceThread can be used as much for Evaluating as Creating? How does Google Earth, in and of itself, promote Analysing?

Tools, by themselves, rarely develop higher-order thinking skills. It’s all about the processes around them and the context in which they’re used.

I’ve seen lessons and lectures that were captivating and really pushed students forward using no more than a blackboard and a piece of chalk. Similarly, I’ve seen some that used almost every conceivable piece of technology under the sun and students made little or no progress.

So educators, if you’re going to use a specific framework to present some tools or some ideas, please make sure that you understand the nature of that framework.


Image CC BY-ND Samantha Penney

3 thoughts on “Tools and processes

  1. Doug, what you highlight here relates to the issue we’re seeking to clarify in the Digidol project ( The Blooms taxonomy identifies key cognitive activities. The missing construct is task. So, a problem (defined by learning objectives for a given context) gives rise to a variety of data/information related tasks. Some of these may be solely cognitive, whilst others will have a behavioural component that arises from interacting with content, tools, people and processes. Abstracting around task provides a way of bridging between how people make use of technology for their learning and work in different contexts. I believe there are a basic set of data/information related tasks that comprehensively describe the kinds of things people do with technology (and for that matter content, people and processes). The idea is to deconstruct complex tasks that arise in a particular situation/circumstance, e.g., presentation, report writing, meeting, into more fundamental data/information tasks where the behavioural aspect is concerned with using technology. Different technologies will present different affordances influencing how a task is performed. The other challenge is then getting a handle on the more nebulous factors that shape context, such as subject, discipline, profession, culture to create problems/tasks that are interesting, authentic, meaningful and situated. It is in this mix that digital literacies are developed.

    1. Hi Joe, and thanks for the comment. 🙂

      I definitely agree that digital literacies are developed in some kind of ‘mix’. However, although the mapping activities you discuss on the post you link to can be useful, I’d urge a note of caution.

      Presumably you’d consider yourself to be ‘digitally literate’? I’d certainly hope that I would be considered so on any test that was applied! However, did we learn these digital literacies by being shown how to ‘search’, ‘manipulate’, ‘connect’ in bite-sized chunks?

      I’d suggest not. Whilst I’m certainly not advocating some kind of free-for-all where people are thrown in at the deep end, I would encourage any programme that seeks to develop digital literacies not to look at the various elements in isolation. 🙂

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