Bloom Gone Digital Misses the Mark

Approximate Reading Time: 3 minutes

Bloom’s Taxonomy Blooms Digitally, Andrew Churches.

ref: Bloom’s

Wow. Where do I begin? I could easily write thousands of words on what is wrong with this taxonomy. Understand that this is nothing personal – I do not know the author and have no desire to hurt anyone’s feelings. It’s just that this taxonomy exposes a number of serious misconceptions about technology, how it works, and what we can do with it. These are very common misconceptions and tie back to a complaint I have had ever since I started studying Educational Technology formally, namely, that Ed.Techs (for the most part) don’t really know tech. Being able to use it is NOT the same as knowing it. Being able to drive is not the same as knowing how the car works. Ed.Techs need to be more than mere drivers.

Now, before I start taking this taxonomy apart, let me say that I do applaud Andrew Churches for putting an obvious amount of careful thought and effort into this. Figuring out where modern digital technologies fit into Bloom’s classic is a worthwhile endeavor. BUT, there is a tendency for people to be overly impressed by technology and to imbue it with too much power (especially if they don’t really understand how it works). It’s a good start though.

There is a middle ground between seeing technology as a mere vehicle and seeing it as a panacea. This is very important.

Rather than write a single long treatise, I will summarize the problems and then write a more detailed explanation later (in subsequent posts). SO here they are; in no particular order (the numbering is only to allow easy reference):

  1. The classifications of the new verbs give far too much credit for actions that merely use the technology. It confuses tool *use* with actual thought. Many of the elements are inflated w.r.t. where they belong on the hierarchy.
  2. The verbs describe the use of specific tools rather than the intellectual skills they represent. It would be like listing ‘pencil use’ or ‘book manipulation’.
  3. It confuses collecting information with actually remembering or understanding it. For example, bookmarking isn’t remembering. This is a serious misconception with far-reaching implications.
  4. Finding does NOT belong in the same category as knowledge (original Bloom’s) or remembering (revised). If anything it belongs in a new category BELOW Knowledge. Just because I know where or how to find something does not mean I know it.
  5. Twittering has very little to do with understanding and a great deal to do with vociferation and parroting.
  6. I really wish people would stop using terms they don’t really understand. Boolean logic is a very fundamental (and old) notion in informatics. It has been part of programming literacy since the beginning of programming. It is a topic, and as such has no place in Bloom’s taxonomy, unless you want to start listing all  topics and concepts. That’s not what Bloom’s is for and indicates confusion about the level of abstraction at which Bloom’s operates. If Boolean logic has a place in Bloom’s, then so does Algebra, and the Kreb’s Cycle (and a million other topics).
  7. Subscribing has nothing to do with understanding. It is a variation on collecting. The author himself admits that “the act of subscription by itself does not show or develop understanding but often the process of reading and revisiting the subscribed-to feeds leads to greater understanding.” Do not put elements into categories to which they could belong if people developed the idea. Bloom’s is a taxonomy of where these elements fit in a hierarchy, not a projection of where things could lead.
  8. Hacking does not mean applying a set of rules to achieve an objective.
  9. Editing is not applying. Neither are uploading, sharing, running, or operating. I don’t even know where these things belong, but I know they sit somewhere below Knowledge. Some are merely psycho-motor skills.
  10. Tagging is not analyzing (except in the most superficial sense). In many cases these days when you go to tag something, the application will offer suggestions and all you have to do is click on them. It is classifying.

I do agree that we should be looking at the cognitive implications of using various technologies, but what has been presented here, though a useful first draft, is too superficial and inflated. It is the perspective of a tool user when it should come from the perspective of a tool maker.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. – Arthur C. Clarke

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Bloom Gone Digital Misses the Mark — 1 Comment

  1. Pingback: The Problem with Taxonomies in Education | The Becker Blog

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