Beginning Teaching with Digital Technology by Joanne Blannin
Many contemporary K-12 classrooms are inundated with technology tools. Educators are frequently asked to incorporate [tools that promise improved student performance and learning. However, there are still gaps in educators’ understanding of how best to incorporate technology and integrate it into their curriculum. In Beginning Teaching with Digital Technology, Joanne Blannin provides a high-level overview of how to teach with technology and provides a focus on how best to use technology to enhance instruction of a variety of subjects. Chapters are dedicated to literacy, mathematics, STEM, the arts, and coding. Prior to the chapters on technology use in specific subjects, Blannin sets the stage how best to use technology effectively for learning, how technology use should be evaluated, and what theories inform educators’ use of technology.
In chapter two, Blannin writes about the Technological, Pedagogical, and Content Knowledge (TPCK) framework, Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy, and Social Constructivist Digital Literacy. Educators will find these the usage of these modern educational frameworks relevant as they address digital literacy from a social constructivist perspective and how they may be used to fulfill the needs of current K-12 students. It was somewhat surprising not to see SAMR included; however, the three frameworks employed provide enough framing for educators and pre-service teachers to begin exploration and discussion regarding the chapter on: What is effective technology use for learning? This chapter is helpful as the [you should include a transition here to let the reader know you are moving – bridging into the next topic.
The third chapter is titled Cyber-Safety and Online Learning. Many of the topics discussed in the chapter address the importance of digital citizenship and the author provides detailed explanations as to why this topic is important for educators. In chapter three, Blannin challenges the reader to think critically about technology in education. Questions include using technology to challenging teaching situations and how to make informed decisions with technology. In chapter four, Blannin continues to build the foundation for the thoughtful use of digital technology in education by discussing the theories that inform and undergird how educators incorporate technology use in their classrooms. In chapters six through ten, Blannin focuses on using technology in specific subject areas.
The book is for both pre-service and in-service teachers. The organization of the text indicates Blannin’s desire for educators to apply the content suggestions effectively. Each chapter includes classroom scenarios that are established at the beginning of the chapter and resolved at the end of the chapter. These discussions provide consistent insight and practical applications for the reader.
A particular area of strength for this book is the range of real world examples. Blannin provides examples of how best to use technology at both primary and secondary levels. Instructors of educational technology courses will find the various targeted age ranges addressed to be useful for pre-service teachers who intend to teach at different grade levels, but are all taking a common education course.
While the book would be a useful text in an undergraduate teacher education technology course, it lacks specific examples and actionable items that in-service teachers desire. New educators may appreciate the generality of ideas presented which can be useful for discussions in their professional learning network. Additionally, further reading recommendations at the end of each chapter serve as a way to dig deeper into the topics.
Blannin is an Australian educator who uses examples from that context. The Australian perspective is rarely problematic for readers in other parts of the world, in fact, the examples from Australia may be useful for readers in other contexts as a way to step-back and reflect on issues that can be utilized in their own setting. However, there is one area where the Australian perspective did feel out of touch with other audiences, particularly in the United States. Chapter 11 addresses where students “bring your own device “aka (BYOD). In the United States, school districts have moved away from BYOD and most students use district provided devices.
Overall, the book Beginning Teaching with Digital Technology, by Joanne Blannin is a useful and insightful work about digital technology in education. It will be valuable for any educator, or future educator, who would like to get ideas on how to start using digital technology in their classroom. This book will be of particular use to higher education faculty as a text to use in educational technology courses for pre-service teachers. It is an ideal mix of theory and practice with several relevant timely examples.
Blannin, J. (2022). Beginning teaching with digital technology. London, UK: Sage.