When I think of taxonomy of learning, I think of Bloom. Bloom’s taxonomy is older than I am, having been published in 1956. I remember first hearing of Bloom’s Taxonomy as a young teacher but had no idea what it was, nor that it was the work of many authors whose aim was to classify three domains of educational goals and objectives. The cognitive domain is, I expect, the one that educators are most familiar with. Krathwohl’s Taxonomy and Harrow’s Taxonomy classify the affective and psychomotor domains respectively and are quite new to me.
Bloom’s taxonomy is still a valid way for educators to classify learning objectives and ensure that students are engaged in activities that move beyond lower order thinking tasks to the more complex higher order thinking tasks of synthesising and evaluating.
In our current digital age there is more scope to design learning that covers the spectrum of learning but how to evaluate this learning can be problematic. There is much talk about 21st century learning skills which usually centre around the skills of problem solving, creative and critical thinking, collaboration and so on. I do not believe that these skills have only been devised for 21st c learning; they are, however, perhaps more desirable in contemporary society where much of the workforce is required to demonstrate and use these skills in ways that were not so prevalent in previous generations. Our knowledge networked society enables us to connect and collaborate with others beyond the physical classroom and beyond our local communities. With the arrival of Web 2.0, educators can harness these tools to develop these skills in students, particularly with regard to collaboration and sharing of knowledge.
I have had many conversations with parents recently who continue to request data that proves that technology is improving their child’s learning; the data requested is that of the NAPLAN type. Many don’t seem satisfied with a response that speaks of creativity, collaboration, problem solving or any other skill that is deemed by many to be the holy grail of contemporary learning.
Therefore, as educators, we must search for ways that will enable us to assess these skills, particularly when the use of ICT is required. Heppell (2001) cautions against assessing learning done with ICT using measures that were constructed prior to the digital age as we would be assessing in ways that are reminiscent of pedagogy that predates current educational pedagogies.
Bloom’s original taxonomy has been revised and adapted by many as seen by the selection of images included here:
Starkey (2011) states that whilst these later versions have creativity as the goal, the ultimate goal should be the sharing of what has been created. Prior to the digital age, this was only possible in a limited way. Now, with a vast array of web 2.0 tools available, sharing is possible on a global level and can be done instantly. Starkey lists six aspects of learning that use digital technologies and provides a matrix that can be used to connect Bloom’s and SOLO taxonomies and, further, be used as and assessment tool:
- Thinking about connections
- Thinking about concepts
- Critiquing and evaluating
- Creating knowledge
- Sharing knowledge
Five digital technology uses associated with these levels of learning:
- Accessing information
- Processing information
Teachers using this tool are able to discern the value of activities with regard to ensuring the connection between activity and concept. If teachers are to do more than give lip service to higher order thinking skills and their application in a digital learning world, they must ensure that their learning spaces, both physical and virtual, are conducive to learning in a digital age and that their theory of learning is also supportive of contemporary learning design.
Heppell, S. (2001) Assessment and new technology: new straightjackets or new opportunities? Retrieved from http://workshop.heppell.mobi/search?q=Assessment+and+new+technology%3A+new+straightjackets+or+new+opportunities%3F
Starkey, L. (2011) Evaluating learning in the 21st century: a digital age learning matrix. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 20:1, 19-39