INF 530: Blog Task 2 – Taxonomy of Learning in Knowledge Networks

Learn - keyboard

creative commons licensed (BY) flickr photo by GotCredit:

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:

creative commons licensed (BY-NC) flickr photo by AJC

creative commons licensed (BY-NC) flickr photo by AJC

Blooms Revised Taxonomy

creative commons licensed (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo by jutecht:


Padagogy wheel

creative commons licensed (BY) flickr photo by AllanADL:


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:

  1. Doing
  2. Thinking about connections
  3. Thinking about concepts
  4. Critiquing and evaluating
  5. Creating knowledge
  6. Sharing knowledge


Five digital technology uses associated with these  levels of learning:

  1. Accessing information
  2. Presenting
  3. Processing information
  4. Gaming
  5. Communicating

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
Starkey, L. (2011) Evaluating learning in the 21st century: a digital age learning matrix. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 20:1, 19-39



2 thoughts on “INF 530: Blog Task 2 – Taxonomy of Learning in Knowledge Networks

  1. I read this post the other day, and it sent me scurrying off to do some more reading – taxonomy topics are always interesting, especially when put into context as you did with your parent examples. You also included (or mentioned) that there are many revisions around – there certainly are. But the question is – are they just devised by people based on their own experience and imagination, or is there evidence and research to make them valid. Often not! this is the thing to keep an eye out for. Would nice to see your write a little freely, more often? Go on, give it a try!

  2. Interesting you speak about the parents. I was having dinner with two friends yesterday, both like me are parents, and both are in education, one at university level and the other at high school level. We were talking about the fact that schools really need to embrace parents and their knowledge and experience more. Not the conversations that go “in my day …” followed by “…and I turned out all right” but the conversations with parents who are in the 21st century workforce that we so often refer to that apparently has changed so much. They do have insights into what is needed and what is important and which bits of communication and collaboration and team work are valuable and working and which are just so much hot air!

    Since we teach in a private international school, with parents paying very high fees, these parents are successful (in monetary terms at least) but often are dismissed by educators as not knowing what they’re talking about educationally in the 21st C – as if the parents are living in a century different to our students! I think a little mutual respect and open conversations could go a long way!

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