|Applications of technology differ in the nature of the cognition that they stimulate and support. In examining and reflecting on applications of ICT (informatoin and communication technology) to learning, The above taxonomy was developed to represent qualitatively different levels of ICT integration in education. The lowest level of this taxonomy involves using computers to simply store or display material for students to use; it places them in a passive role. The highest taxonomic level represents active students synthesizing material and utilizing ICT to construct projects such as hypermedia presentations.
The taxonomy is designed to represent qualitatively different cognitive processes that are fostered by the integration of a range of ICTs into the learning process. As is the case with Bloom's taxonomy, there are lower and higher level objectives. One aspect of ICT is that these tools can be used by an individual on their own computer so the process of constructing is internal and personal. However, an increasing number of Web-based applications are emerging that provide a means of collaboratvely constructing an understanding. Therefore, the table above contains examples of specific ICT applications that foster individual processing, and those that are supportive of collaborative construction. The key to understanding this taxonomy is not to focus on the tools that are being used, but instead to focus on the cognitive process that the tool is supporting. It is this process that is the mechanism of learning.
1. Allow the storage or display Information.
The lower level cognitive process in this taxonomy is the storage of information or the passive viewing of displayed information. This utilization of ICT can take the form of viewing presented information as projected in a class, or on one's own monitor. It also includes the saving of information on one's hard drive for later use. It does not necessarily involve any deep cognitive processing and can be manifest as simply downloading relevant documents or PDF files onto one's computer. Another example might be the student who sits in class and is shown a powerpoint presentation. In both cases the learner is in a passive role and the active linking or assimilation of this information to existing schema is minimal. Its corollary in Bloom's taxonomy is the remembering of information without necessarily understanding.
2. Foster exploration of materials and ideas
The second level of the taxonomy represents the active exploration of materials and ideas. At this level the learner is engaged in the conscious pursuit of information that will lead to a better understanding of an existent issue, question or concept. A classic example of this would be the use of a browser such as Netscape to explore websites relevant to the understanding of a concept that was introduced in class (maybe in the above powerpoint presentation). At this level the cognitive process is deeper and more relevant as the student is in charge of directing this search. Hyperlinks in a great range of applications are a perfect tool for fostering further understanding through the access to new information. Teachers who construct guided inquiries through the use of basic WebQuests or virtual field trips might be considered to have cognitive objectives at this level. Collaborative exploration can be supported in environments like Tapped In where individuals can communicate with each other to share ideas and information. The Zoomarang site is set up to allow individuals or groups to post questionnaires and explore a particular topic by collecting data.
3. Enable the application of understanding to new situations
At the third level, ICTs can provide a powerful tool for applying a concept or understanding to a new situation. As they begin to construct an understanding of a concept, students can be provided with ICT tools that will let them apply this developing understanding to a novel situation. Applying the concept in this manner allows them to reflect on its veracity and utility. The construction of electronic portfolios can assist students in applying their understanding and representing this construction in an electronic form. The Mighty M & M site is set up to allow elementary students to apply their understanding of the calculation of percentages and fractions to data collected by people all over the world who have counted the color distributions of bags of M&Ms.
4. Organize materials or ideas to foster analysis
The use of ICTs to allow individuals to analyze materials or ideas by manipulating them and organizing them is represented at the fourth taxonomic level. Here the focus is on the process of analysis that is facilitated by such tools as Inspiration or Visio, where the learner can engage in concept mapping or the manipulation of ideas as a means of understanding their relationship. There are other tools that also support this process of analysis. Word processing tools provide a powerful means for individuals to organize and analyze ideas as well. The program IHMC allows 2 or more individuals to be linked on the web and to open a graphic organizer window that each can access as they work together to analyze and represent complex concepts or ideas. There are a number of whiteboards that can also serve this same process of group construction of understanding.
5. Support evaluation and problem-solving
The fifth level of the taxonomy represents the use of ICTs to support the process of evaluation. This can be done in a number of ways. One way to engage students a this level is by compiling information and resources into a digital repository that will allow them to address issues of history or current events and to evaluate these resources. It can be facilitated by developing simulations that will immerse students in an environment that will help them evaluate relevant dimensions and solve the problems that are posed. There are also collaborative Web-based environments that support or foster evaluation and problem-solving. Applications like NetMeeting are unique in providing a collaborative environment that can foster communication and problem-solving. Palaver Tree is a site that is powerful in fostering the evaluation of ideas and information promoted by collaborative problem-solving.
6. Facilitate constructing or designing projects
At the highest taxonomic level is the deep processing that is promoted by the design or construction of integrating projects. Most of the processes represented at the lower taxonomic levels are brought together in the design of projects. In the development of powerful projects, students must explore ideas and resources, and analyze and evaluate information in a final synthesis. Hypermedia programs like HyperStudio are a wonderful example of ICTs that can fully utilize the multimedia environment to support this process. Web Design environments such as GoLive are equally powerful in their ability to link a wide range of resources and allow individuals to explore and represent their ideas in a widely accessible format.
I propose that this taxonomy could be used by educators as they examine ways in which they can utilize technology to foster significant and memorable learning experiences. As with Bloom's taxonomy, fostering lower level processes is not bad and is at times requisite, however there are many benefits to be gained from the active processing of information at higher taxonomic levels. Therefore, teachers are encouraged to develop ways for students to utilize technology at a range of levels, but to plan for maximum exposure to those applications of technology that can foster higher level cognitive objectives.