Literature Review #4

By Kat Geuea

Removing obstacles to the pedagogical changes required by Jonassen’s vision of authentic technology-enabled learning

Peggy A. Ertmer, Anne Ottenbreit-Leftwich


This article does not reference one project, but is instead a collection of researches, including the authors’ own, intended to recommend a broad course of action. The research carried out by the authors is referenced and receives full treatment in another article, see below. I am pretty impressed with the content of this article, the crux of which is the need for teachers to change their pedagogy regarding the use of technology. I will be hard-pressed to find anything to critique, beyond learning the specifics of the common, but elusive unicorn.


This article calls for a shift from the term technology integration to one of technology-enabled learning. The authors use many articles to educate the reader as to the value of this authentic use of technology in spurring students to the development of critical thinking skills, all referencing the constructivist theories developed by Jonassen. Honestly, it is all very interesting, you should read it…

I noticed that many of the research projects referenced appear to have very small sample sizes. This includes their own project, which apparently only included, “12 award-winning technology-using teachers,” 3 of whom they included as examples throughout this article. All 3 of them are using technology in non-traditional ways to enable student-centered uses. Not only are these 3 teachers wonderful, they have wonderful administrators as well.

From their examination (of which there are no specifics in this article) of these 3 unicorns, the authors discovered the following: there are contextual (access to computers, admin support, school culture), cognitive (teachers’ knowledge, skills, PLNs, developing pedagogies), and affective (teachers’ beliefs about the value of technology) factors to the utilization of technology as a cognitive tool.

Ertmer and Ottenbreit-Leftwich’s recommendation is that more time should be spent teaching teachers how to be better teachers than is spent actually teaching technology; that the “verbs” of technology are more important than the “nouns.” The word “pedagogy” is used about a bazillion times in this article, in reference to the following: problem or project-based learning, transformative approaches, student-centered, inquiry, higher-order learning, developing thinking skills, powerful instruction methods, collaborative informal reasoning, and mindtools to construct and demonstrate knowledge. I like it, however it seems so abstract. Give me some applications of the term!

You have to know what the tools are capable of… You have to know what you are doing and you have to be willing to put in the effort that it takes to learn it. Knowledge is king.

Garcia, research subject, middle school science teacher

This is what I mean by unicorn. I have a peer in my building who is probably only in his/her early 30s. They are very popular with the students and often wins our school’s popularity contest, the “Golden Apple” award (sore spot for me). They are the type who complains about every request the school district makes of us that sounds like it sits outside of our school contract. They stay after school and come in on weekends to grade, but whenever technology talk comes up, complain about not being paid enough or having enough to invest in additional “stuff.” Because of how they are willing to spend their precious time, they obviously see the value in their own assigned work, but don’t see value in technology. How can we “promote best practice and effective pedagogy” that are “at the very core of effective technology integration”(Ertmer & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, 2013), if teachers are not willing to put in the effort?


Ertmer, P.A., Ottenbreit-Leftwich, A., Sadik, O., Sendurur, E., & Sendurur, P. (2012). Teacher beliefs and technology integration practices: a critical relationship. Computer and Education, 59, 423-435.

Ertmer, P. A., & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, A. (2013). Removing obstacles to the pedagogical changes required by Jonassens vision of authentic technology-enabled learning. Computers & Education64, 175–182. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2012.10.008

Instructor Comments:

Hey Kat,

Nice article and nice review. Thank you!

Yes, the Unicorns. 🙂 

I am in general agreement that we should invest more in teaching how to teach (pedagogy). Teaching about technology is also useful, but best when coupled with pedagogy or at least within a pedagogical context. Yes. 

Now, specifics. I hear that’s where this piece comes up short. That is a much harder lift. 

I also hear you on the Golden Apple. There is tension in the system around compensation for expectations, a fair work day, and so on. I get that. I also get that at some point, professionalism is about engaging with opportunities personally and deeply. There isn’t a time-clock for that. 

Do you know enough of the Golden Apple’s game to be able to suggest a couple of directions they should pursue to up their game? What elements of their game, popular with students, could we learn from? Or, should we? 🙂

Nice work on this review! 

Peer comment:

I enjoyed your review, Kat! At first, I was interested as to why they wanted to switch the term from technology integrated to technology-enabled. It didn’t sound any different, but after reading your article and reflecting on it I understand why. Technology integrated sounds more like taking a current instructional practice and integrating tech into a teacher’s current instructional practice wherever they might be able to. Technology-enabled is more adapting to a new instructional style of teaching using technology. I think this is part of the problem, teachers are using technology to make stuff easier (using airdrop for fewer copies, document camera, etc) but have not started using it to innovate lessons or enhance student learning! 

Author: admin

This is the launch of my masters journey!!

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