Developmentally Appropriate Technology
Using the latest, greatest technological tools in classroom lessons is typically encouraged; however, we must think critically about the tools we want to use to ensure they are appropriate. We have already discussed the elements to consider in order to discern what is appropriate technology in terms of the lesson. Now we must also consider what is appropriate in terms of the physical and cognitive skills of our learners.

Piaget's Stages of Cognitive Development give us a context from which to begin when we ask questions such as:

  • What sensorimotor skills will be required to use this tool, and do my learners have those skills?
  • To what degree is abstract thinking involved, and are my learners developmentally capable of such thinking yet?
  • What foundational skills and knowledge must be recalled in order to use this tool, and how will I stimulate recall of that knowledge and incorporate those foundational skills?

We may also remember Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development, which refers to the difference between the expert and novice level of cognitive understanding. While we have to keep in mind the developmental level of each student, we also have to remember that widening those boundaries is how students learn and grow, referred to by Vygotsky as scaffolding. We want to give them problems that stretch them, modeling how to approach those problems. Very often technological tools can present subjects in such a way that they model how to approach and solve a problem.

“Many visual technology tools, from video-based scenarios to virtual reality, are designed to scaffold students’ understanding through graphic examples and real-life experiences relevant to their individual needs” (Roblyer and Doering, 2010, p. 40).

Related Links:
National Education Technology Standards.
Rubrics to measure technology literacy
Read this fascinating article that may challenge your own ideas about incorporating technology in the classroom.