Author Archives: Allen Wideman

Allen is an elementary based educator with the Calgary Board of Education. His experience as a classroom teacher has been primarily in Grades 5 and 6, with a focus on technology integration to support and enhance learning experiences for students and staff. Allen is currently teaching as a Physical Education specialist for Grades 1-4, and he is a graduate student at UBC in the Master of Educational Technology program.

Technology – A Way of Acting

Muffoletto (1994) argues that technology is “not a collection of machines and devices, but a way of acting.” As educators, if we are truly aiming to integrate technology as a means of supporting the diverse learning needs of our students, we must address the accompanying skills and attitudes that influence the ways in which our students engage with technology.

Through developing technology enhanced learning experiences, educators should focus their task design, and their corresponding assessments, on creating learning opportunities which emphasize designing (creating things, not just using or interacting with things), personalizing (creating things that are personally meaningful and relevant), collaborating (working with others on creations), and reflecting (reviewing and rethinking one’s creative practices). In order to create a more integrative approach to technology, the shift in approaches to assessment requires an exploration at a fundamental level. Bates’ SECTIONS framework (2014) states that assessment should also be influenced by the knowledge and skills that students need in a digital age, which means focusing as much on assessing skills as knowledge of content. In turn, this encourages the development of authentic skills that require understanding of content, knowledge management, problem solving, collaborative learning, evaluation, creativity and practical outcomes.


Bates, J. (2014). Teaching in a digital age, Chapter 8. Retrieved from

Muffoletto, R. (1994). Technology and restructuring education: Constructing a context. Educational Technology, 34(2), 24-28.

Reflection, Possibilities, and Limitations in Grade 3

Diana has been teaching at the Grade 2 and Grade 3 level for the past 10 years, and she is very active and enthusiastic about integrating technology in her classroom within all areas of the curriculum. She is the technology lead at her school, and she regularly supports staff and students at individual, classroom, and whole school levels in order to promote and enhance student learning and staff development.


In terms of engaging students and supporting their learning, Diana works to have her students reflect and consider whether or not technology has actually enhanced and moved their learning and understanding forward. For her students, she achieves this through discussion and by having them share what they perceive to be evidence of their learning. Based on the language and description used, Diana determines whether the technology has enhanced learning and uses this assessment to plan for how to continue to support this progression. Students are expected to be able to reference their own work in order to draw a conclusion. From this, students should also be able to think and plan reflectively as they suggest next steps for their learning, as well as what they might do differently next time and support these choices with specific details.


Diana continues to assess and evaluate her own use of technology in the classroom to determine her own next steps and how to best support student learning and understanding. She uses a variety of apps and programs in order to meet the needs of her students and their diverse range of learning considerations. Possibilities for adaptive technology to support students with visual and auditory needs have been especially beneficial, and these strategies have also supported with other needs as well. Opportunities to support student output and collaborative possibilities have enhanced the overall engagement and cohesiveness of the classroom environment. The ability of students to collaborate and share their ideas, comments, questions and notes with their peers has proven to be especially effective in supporting all learners in the classroom.


Like many educators, Diana feels the constraints of time when working with technology in her classroom, and she believes that her students feel the same limitations with regards to time. Although she is motivated and competent in her ability to plan for technology integration in Mathematics and Science, Diana finds that she continually has to prioritize her approaches to technology in order to maximize the effectiveness of the limited amount of time that she has to devote to learning and applying technology in her classroom. In terms of staff support and professional development, she believes that there needs to be opportunities for staff to engage in PD according to their own interest and ability/comfort levels. Although she believes that the atmosphere at her school is supportive of providing support for technology, the time for teachers to learn about, and experiment with, technology has been limited to non-instructional times.

Negativity Gets You Nowhere

When implementing technology in our schools, it becomes essential that lessons continue to be based on achieving a maximum level of student activity, rather than focusing on the skill of using the technology itself. One thing that stood out for me in the videos was how different teachers approached technology integration in their classrooms in terms of how they perceived and utilized the support of their colleagues. I continue to wonder how current perspectives impact the ways in which students, teachers and administrators form their attitudes and approaches toward learning and educational technologies. Teachers can no longer realistically expect to “know more about technology” than their students, and if teachers are unwilling to provide opportunities to their students to lead with their own technological expertise, they will always be limited by a sense of frustration much like that expressed by the retiring teacher in Video Case 5.

One of the challenges in effectively implementing technology to enhance student learning and experiences in our schools is to help support and educate our teachers about practical applications in terms of planning, authentic practice, and assessment. The terminology and endless usage of acronyms often intimidates and alienates students and teachers who are already feeling “behind” in terms of their perceived technological skills and knowledge. As a result, the reality is that many educators approach technology with apprehension and mistrust, and they feel a lack of support in planning/designing tasks for their students that integrate technology in meaningful ways into their classroom practice. In addition, there is a sense of being ostrasized if they ask questions or seek out support. As MET graduate students, I feel that we have a tremendous opportunity to bring a level of knowledge and experience into our schools to promote professional development and collaborative support in moving our pedagogy forward with regards to learning technologies.

In order for technology to be integrated and utilized for greater impact on student learning, schools also must be committed to supporting teachers through professional development, collegial support, and technical assistance. Without any one of these supports in place, the technology can not be used to its potential. This requires a significant commitment in terms of cost (monetary and time) on the part of school administration to ensure that a positive environment can be established and maintained to benefit students and staff.

The most successful schools that I’ve been at have enjoyed positive support from administration and the ability to promote and build teacher capacity with integrating technology amongst staff. As a technology lead at one of my previous schools, I was fortunate to have had a tremendous opportunity to help plan the purchasing and implementation of technology for elementary students and staff, and provide support and professional development around developing best practice and building teacher capacity. The amount of time and money that went into this work was phenomenal, and was not always greeted with cheers and enthusiasm, but ultimately provided staff at the school with the opportunity to start at their technology comfort level and then, with continued support, to move forward and push beyond their boundaries to learn more. Truly, without the organizational support and commitment from school administrations, many teachers wouldn’t have the opportunity or the desire to integrate technology into their daily practice.


Seymour Papert and Constructivist Opportunities

Mathematics teaching has traditionally followed a linear form of instruction that involves an emphasis on skill drills and repetitive technique practice that requires students to progress through their learning path without adequate consideration to personalized and individualized learning styles. However, students require greater opportunities to engage with collaborative, constructivist learning approaches as they build a mathematical understanding through discussion, experimentation, and reflection. As Constructivism views knowledge as the outcome of experience mediated by one’s own prior knowledge and the experience of others, student learning benefits through the exploration of mathematical and scientific concepts by engaging with a variety of learning technologies, including programming languages.

Despite the benefits of enhanced student engagement and motivation, and the development of skills in creativity, problem solving and collaboration, technologies for learners (including programming) have been slow to gain entry into formal educational settings, as their integration necessitates major changes in school cultures. In some cases, it seems that technologies for learners have not been widely accepted in school instructional programs because they challenge the standards-based perspective on instructional change in schools.

By reflecting on the roles that technology plays in the current educational climate, we also need to reflect on past approaches to technology, and to consider how we’ve ultimately arrived where we are. In terms of mathematics and science learning, the work of Seymour Papert integrates technology across the curriculum, and Papert’s ideas and perspectives on educational technology can help move us toward an exciting and engaging future for our students. Seymour Papert’s influence extends throughout current pedagogical approaches to the integration of educational technology, constructivism, constructionism, and the teaching of science and mathematics, to name but a few areas of significance. Papert and Solomon’s Twenty Things to Do With a Computer (1971), raises key questions and issues around educational technology that are still current and overwhelmingly relevant, more than 40 years after the report had been written.

Papert and Solomon question the reasons as to why schools seemed to be “confined” in their approach to educational technology, particularly within mathematics and science, to uses that limit students to problem solving uses rather than opportunities to produce some form of action. Constructivist theory, when combined with technology integration, supports the enhancement of opportunities for students to engage in collaboration, higher order thinking and problem solving to enhance classroom learning environments.



Papert, Samuel and Solomon, Cynthia. (1971). Twenty Things to Do With a Computer. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: A.I. Laboratory.




Teacher/Student Misconceptions

While viewing “A Private Universe,” I was struck by the teacher centred style of instruction that was presented in the video, and the passive participation of the students in their learning. Regarding student misconceptions, and the instructional approaches to science, some of the key takeaways from the video were:

  • teacher assumptions of basic ideas, unaware of students private, personal theories (deeply ingrained)
  • use of ineffective visuals and/or teacher explanations
  • student confusion of diagrams and information from different sources
  • a need for using varied materials and resources to appeal to different learning styles
  • students struggle with blending of new concepts into original concepts as new concepts compete with preconceived ideas

I remember personally learning about science through similar instructional approaches to those seen in the video. According to these approaches, teachers generally have their own notions of how their students learn best, and they aim to build their instruction through these assumptions about their students’ prior knowledge and learning styles. As teachers aim to meet curricular outcomes and impart concepts and knowledge on to their students, the opportunities for students to engage with content in diverse and engaging ways becomes extremely limited.

Rather than viewing students as ‘blank slates’ or as ‘objects of teacher activity,’ educators need to arrive at a greater understanding of their students in terms of how learning activities affect their perceptions, knowledge, and beliefs (Shapiro 1988). There exists a need for clarifying student ideas about a particular scientific phenomena before they engage in classroom instructional experiences. According to Shapiro (1988), “we know that children’s pre-instructional ideas about natural phenomena can be very different from those which they are asked to accept in school.” From this, students need to develop the ability to interpret available evidence and make judgments about the rationality of arguments and concepts that may contradict their own previously held beliefs. Rather than the teacher being the dispenser of knowledge and information, the students take the lead in their own learning and are afforded the opportunity to engage with materials and generate ideas and questions without the teacher imposing their own personal limitations or restrictions as to how this experience should be carried out.

As presented by Fosnot (2005), constructivist approaches to learning allow students to learn best when they are provided with opportunities to actively construct ideas and relationships in their own minds based on experiences and experimenting, rather than being told what to do by an instructor. Students should be afforded the opportunity to engage in self-directed learning with the facilitation and feedback provided by the teacher and class peers to support students as they work towards attaining fundamental and relevant knowledge and skills.

Through providing lessons and experiences that offer authenticity and relevance, with opportunities for deeper collaboration and sharing of feedback, we can support students through leadership opportunities in the role of a creator or experimenter in their learning. According to Seymour Papert (1996), constructivist and constructionist theories support students in taking an active interest in understanding how they think about learning. Rather than passively accepting knowledge, students need to engage in conversations about strategies for learning and problem solving, which Papert described as a process of Learning about Learning (Papert, 1996). This fundamental approach to learning will allow students to access the skills and experience necessary to become full participants in 21st century learning environments. Through these learning opportunities, our students will be able to enhance their ability to articulate personal understandings and perceptions, develop their knowledge and skill through authentic practices, and participate in collaborative learning environments.



Fosnot, C.T. (2005). Constructivism: Theory, perspectives, and practice. (2nd Edition) Teachers College Press

Papert, S. (1996). The Connected Family: Bridging the Digital Generation Gap. Atlanta, Georgia: Longstreet Press.

Shapiro, B. L. (1988). What children bring to light: Towards understanding what the primary school science learner is trying to do. Developments and dilemmas in science education, 96-120.




Logo. Oh, Logo.

My very first experience with technology at school was when I was in Grade 4, at a school of about 200 students, and we received our first computers for student use.  We were beyond thrilled, as the majority of us had never experienced computing at home, and therefore the opportunity to learn about computers at school opened up a whole new world for us.  We had 2 computers for the whole school, and these were housed in a small room located off of the main office.  Every student was paired up with a partner, and we received a grand total of 10 minutes on the computers each week.  If you were away on your “computer day,” you were out of luck and had to wait until your name came up in the rotation again the following week.  The only application that we worked with on that shockingly bright green and black screen was LOGO, but we were incredibly engaged with the opportunity to learn about basic programming and create shapes and designs using that triangular “turtle” on the screen.

Looking back on these experiences years later, I feel that two things continue to stand out for me as an educator.  Firstly, the issue of access to technology continues to be an issue for many of our students, and this becomes especially challenging as we move our pedagogy in alignment with technology integration.  How do we support students who lack opportunities to engage with technology outside of the classroom?  The second issue that stands out for me is the importance that programming and coding have taken on within our schools.  With LOGO being the forbear of many of our current programming and coding applications, the significance of these technology skills have never been more relevant.  Long live the turtle!


Calgary Greetings

Hello Everyone!

I’m Allen Wideman, and I’m currently a Physical Education specialist teaching at a K-4 elementary school in Calgary, Alberta.  I’m originally from Vancouver, and I’ve previously taught grades 5/6 as a classroom based teacher.  In keeping myself motivated and challenged, I’m looking at potentially making a move back into a classroom role for the upcoming school year.  I took ETEC 532 last term, which provided a great exploration of technology through the Arts and Humanities, and I’m looking forward to engaging with integrating technology for Math and Science, particularly with regards to applications based around STEM.

I’m happy to say that I’m taking my 9th and 10th courses (ETEC 533 and ETEC 590) towards the MET degree, and I’m excited about completing this journey in August.  Other than teaching and technology, I enjoy spending my time trying to keep up with my wife and our 6 year old twins, and we try to be as active in sports as we possibly can.  I’m a life long sports enthusiast, I love the Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Mariners, and I’m in the midst of a long, turbulent, and truly unfortunate love affair with the Vancouver Canucks.

I’m looking forward to learning with everyone this term.