My name is Jean Piaget and I've come to tell you about my theories regarding educational technology. I've organized this discussion into three parts: past, present, and future. I'm guessing that my extensive experience at conferences and discussing my theories on cognitive development and educational psychology is why I've been asked to speak to you about my stance on educational technology. Technology has changed drastically for youngsters today compared to when I was in school, but even so, technology has always been a part of education. It is an integral part of all students' learning and can be implemented in a wide variety of educational settings. Here's a short video summing up my goal for education:

I've researched many things in my time, including snails, but my most famous work is probably the development of my Theory of Cognitive Development. Below is a diagram that illustrates my theory, which includes four stages of cognitive development throughout the lifespan. I believe that learning happens in stages, beginning with the sensorimotor and ending with formal operational. The sensorimotor stage involves infants developing and learning about their world through the use of their senses. Next is preoperational, which involves children in early childhood. My theory is that children in this stage are beginning to make sense of symbols but still does not think logically in most situations. However, in the concrete operational stage, children begin to think logically and make connections between concrete objects and concepts. Finally, in the formal operational phase, abstract thinking emerges and gradually develops through adulthood. To learn more about my theories and ideas, here's a helpful website.

piaget-stages-of-cognitive-development-examples-i8.gifI believe that humans construct their own knowledge from their experiences---maybe that's why they call it my "Cognitive Constructivist"'s just difficult for me to think that we aren't just empty vessels that can be filled with knowledge. I truly think that every person knows what they know because of the experiences they have had and the environment they have developed in. If you would like to read more about the constructivist theory of learning, please visit this site. It also has information about my colleagues and their visions about the constructivist way of thinking.

Children and even adults learn from what I call schema and construct their own meaning in every situation. This is why technology has played such a huge role in education--technology can help learners construct meaning. For example, a child in the preoperational phase of development is just beginning to connect symbols and objects. Today, there are numerous apps for mobile devices to help children practice just that. Even children as young as the sensorimotor stage are using technology today. I see toddlers at the supermarket playing with their mothers' phones and other technologies. The advances in technology just amaze me...back in my day we couldn't have ever imagined the advances that have been made in just a lifetime.

Technology of the Past

Educational technology has made much progress in the past century. Just in my lifetime, technology has made learning and teaching easier in many ways. Certain technologies of the past were not as beneficial to learners as some today. Things found in past classrooms like overhead projectors, typewriters, chalkboards, and radios did not necessarily help learners construct their own meaning for new concepts. They simply provided ways to present the same information in new ways. Technology must help promote experimentation--like when computers were created. Computers helped people explore endless options of creating and presenting information and learning new concepts in new ways. That leads me into the present state of technology.

Technology Today

Society today is flooded with technology! Everywhere I look, I see some sort of new technology. From the latest automobile advances to communication systems, it is truly unbelievable how much technology has grown in the past century. As far as educational technology, many advances have also been made. The National Center for Education Statistics released a report in 2009 with information about how teachers are incorporating technology into their classrooms. For the full report, click here. I truly think a great teacher encourages exploration of new technologies so students can build upon the knowledge they already have. For example, sometimes I see students asked to use their cell phones or mobile devices to help them learn about a new concept. I think this is a great way for the students to aquire new information because they are connecting their personal device to their schooling and perhaps a new concept. Instructional design and strategies must still be interactive and provide opportunities for students to experiment. To read more about constructivist instructional design, this is a great book that contains several case study experiments. Students can construct new knowledge through experiences with technologies like social media and online gaming or collaboration. This mode of communication is somewhat abstract because it is simply a simulation of traditional communication. This is why social media and online games and collaborations are mostly popular in adolescents. They are becoming able to think abstractly and create meaning through hypothetical concepts. I'm not a fan of those violent video games, but there are some educational ones out there that allow students to experience a new set of ideas or concepts that may help them learn.

Technology to Come

In the future, technology has no boundaries. I'm already amazed at the advances researchers and inventors have made, so what they will come up with next, I cannot predict. However, my hope is that technology will continue to be used in the educational arena to construct new knowledge, not just repeat the same knowledge that people already have. I hope that the Internet can continue to spread knowledge and create new avenues for all students to experience and create meaning in their own ways. It is important to keep in mind that keeping learning environments relevant and creating new knowledge is essential to our society. From birth all the way through the formal operational stage of development, learners must be able to interact with their environment in a meaningful way and explore their world to construct knowledge. Educational technology must remain interactive and experimental. Otherwise, it will fail to help children and learners develop appropriately through exploration. Wilson and Parrish (2010) wrote a great piece on what they call "transformative learning experience" that I enjoyed reading. They make several great points about how with new technologies and capabilities, educators should be "raising the bar" and taking advantage of the great interactive opportunities for learners. Real-world experiences will always be essential to the formation of the human brain, but in some instances, technology is a good substitute for providing new and alternative modes of creating knowledge. Here's another video I thought was useful for educators to help them keep in mind the goal behind educational technology. Enjoy!

I hope you enjoyed my two cents on educational technology and gained some valuable information that you will be able to implement in your classroom or for yourself!


Jean Piaget