Tag Archives: learning

Psychological Perspectives and ICT

For my final ICT specialist module of the year I was required to research and learn about psychological perspectives and ICT. In order to do convey what I have learnt I have created a series of blogs which represent a range of topics that can be discovered within this module. These topics include insights into the psychological theories that underpin learning, the impact that ICT has in education and these topics have influenced how we teach and educate today.
I began my learning by researching “How the work of Pavlov influenced education” this was the first step into the world of how psychology has influenced education for me and very much an area of research that encouraged me to learn more. My second blog was entitles “Learning through making” and it opened my eyes to the collaborative learning and how learning theories are usually built upon the work conducted by others. As I progressed through the module I began to gain an interest in exploring how technology has become apparent in our lives and education. This encouraged me to explore the world of “Computer dependency” an area of modern life that is often overlooked. Building upon this my learning drove me toward the use of “Technology in the classroom” and how we can use technology to further the development of children and how they learn.

These initial blogs allowed me to not only increase my understanding of a range of topics but also presented me with the opportunity to gain new knowledge surrounding the issues raised in this module. But with my ever increasing desire to learn more I decided to go back and research a few more learning theories for a few reasons. Firstly I wanted to expand my current base of knowledge regarding learning theory and understand why we teach the way we do or why we did at particular times in history. For example “Bandura, the theory of social learning and education” provided me with the opportunity to understand how the behaviour can influence the actions of others along with other things. Another theory that I took a particular interest in was “Situated learning.” After posting my first blog on this topic I was encouraged by feedback that I received to post a second blog on the topic titled “Comparing situated learning,” this allowed me to research the topic further and deepen my understanding of the topic. Another interest that I gained whilst studying this module was how theorists explain how we has people behave and act. I decided to research the work of Maslow but to approach it from a teachers point of view, writing a blog thinking about “How the performance of children in the classroom relate to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.” My final blog looked into the “Presentation of self in a digital life” allowing me to think deeply about how the digital world allows us to alter our persona and how people perceive us in both a personal and professional manner.

I feel that as a learner looking to expand his knowledge approaching this module in this way has been extremely beneficial to me. I have just written an essay surrounding two or three topics but researched and understood a wide range of topics that cover a variety of aspects of this module. In turn by representing my learning in the form of a series of blogs it has provide me with the opportunity to receive feedback that helps me to think about what I have written developing me as a learner.

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Presentation of Self in a Digital Life

For the purposes of this blog I wanted to consider the presentation of ones self in a digital life and how some people can be perceived differently online than they would be in person. I hope to combine theory and my own experiences to discuss the implications the digital age have on how we are perceived in a personal/professional manner and how it affects our lives.

If we begin by considering the thoughts of Goffman (1959) who brought to our attention the fact that when someone is forced to interact with another person, that person is putting on a performance. They carefully analyse every move they make in terms of how the other person will react or how the other person’s perception of them might change. As people in this society we are brought up to recognise that there is a correct way to behave and an incorrect way. Goffman (1959) ratified this when he stated that “A society’s cultural norms define the social forces that push humans to interact in a way that is congruent with accepted social rules.” Furthermore Leary and Allen (2011) discussed how they believed that although people’s self-presentation correlates moderately with their own views, these people also tailor their public images to specific targets. In (1959) Goffman described the social world in the form of a metaphor, relating the life of the everyday person to that of a performance on a stage. He argues that we present ourselves in a certain manner in order to make identity claims for ourselves. In making these claims we attempt to secure both material and social resources for ourselves. Goffman describes those that take part in social interaction as actors, with said social interaction taking place on the front stage of life and the subsequent planning occurring on the back stage or behind the scenes. He proceeds to argue that people will go to some trouble to avoid the social situation of embarrassment. Embarrassment stops social interaction dead in its tracks and must be responded to. We say it is problematic. In order to avoid such embarrassment people will engage what is described by Goffman (1959) as “Face work.” Too much loss of face transcends mere embarrassment and becomes a powerful negative social label that radically changes a person’s social identity and self-concept or Stigma. “A person is reduced from a whole and usual one to a tainted and discounted one” (Goffman, 1963).

Goffman developed a series of concepts which are useful in describing and understanding interaction. The development of the digital world has opened up a new range of interactions that build upon the ideas first outlined by Goffman. The digital world provides people with the “backstage” previously mentioned allowing us to create the required front stage persona that everyone will see. From this we can compare face to face interaction with how we are perceived in the digital world. It is fair to say that although both allow us to mould and create a persona the digital world allows us to edit and remove areas of that persona that may cause embarrassment.

Thinking about the construction of our digital identity how does it influence the perception that people have of you? In fact because this world provides us with the chance to create any persona that we want, people may be led to believe that you are someone that you are not. Social media such as Facebook is rife with fake accounts in fact Wasserman (2012) estimates that there are approximately 83 million. Information such as this has led to an increase in awareness regarding e-safety and the drive to educate people on how to use the web properly. But considering the question from a professional point of view, a view that is important to me as a trainee teacher; your digital life is one that is very much in the public eye, anyone can access the aspects of your life once they are made digital unless the correct precautions are taken. As highlighted my Miller (1995) “on the Web you can put yourself up for interaction without being aware of a rebuff, and others can try you out without risking being involved further than they would wish.” In professional terms someone that you want to work for could potentially check you out simply by searching your name on the web. If they find something that could discredit the company, the chances of being hired are reduced significantly. For this reason alone it quintessentially important that we are aware of how we are portrayed in our digital lives. Illustrated in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (1954) we are all motivated to fulfil our potential and this could possibly be why some people try to create a new persona online, develop a character that is perfect for reaching that potential.

As explained by Miller (1995) as the culture of electronic communication develops, people will construct expressive resources out of whatever facilities are available. Electronic communication will become more and more human communication to the extent that there is more to it than just efficiently passing information to each other. Considering this the digital world for some may become their only stage, choosing to present themselves just in a digital form. Reasons for this would vary depending on the individual; some may feel that this allows them to create the perfect persona, others may feel more comfortable behind a computer screen but whatever their reasons I think it is important that our digital lives and real lives are linked but are separate. Although our digital lives can be presented in a way that ensures we are not viewed in a negative light they should still be accurate. Inaccuracies can lead to problems in the future in both our personal and professional lives. Leary & Allen (2011) explained that people only present their true self with those that they are close to or trust. Leary & Allen state that this is because people are “compelled to present themselves more accurately to people who know them better.” To a degree it is understandable that people do not want to reveal their entire self to professionals or people they are unfamiliar with. However I think that we should never lie about ourselves but perhaps not fully reveal all aspects of our personas straight away.

References and Further Reading

Goffman, E. (1959) The Presentation of Self in a Everyday Life. New York: Double Day.

Goffman, E. (1963). Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Miller, H. (1995) The Presentation of Self in Electronic Life: Goffman on the Internet. [Online] Available at: http://www.dourish.com/classes/ics234cw04/miller2.pdf (Accessed: 20th March 2013)

Leary, M & Allen, A. (2011). Self-Presentational Persona: Simultaneous Management of Multiple Impressions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 2011, Vol. 101, No. 5, 1033–1049

Maslow, A. H. (1954). Motivation and personality. New York: Harper and Row

Wasserman, T. (2012) [Online] Available at: http://mashable.com/2012/08/02/fake-facebook-accounts/ (Accessed: 21st March 2013)

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Situated Learning

Emerging from sociology and cognitive science, situated learning theory represents a major shift in learning. From traditional psychological views of learning as something that is for the individual it moves toward perspectives of learning as a social concept. Greeno (1998) is often credited with the development of the situated cognition or situated learning theory. Collins (1988) defines situated learning as the notion of learning knowledge and skills in contexts that reflect the way they will be used in real life. Therefore, situated learning theory “encourages educators to immerse learners in an environment that approximates as closely as possible context in which their new ideas and behaviours will be applied.” (Schell & Black, 1997).

Collins (1988) described four benefits of situated cognition that he believed were a good theoretical basis for learning. Firstly, it is important that students learn about the conditions for applying knowledge. Secondly, students are more likely to engage in invention and problem-solving when they learn in diverse situations and settings. Thirdly, students can see the implications of knowledge and how their thoughts can be in a real life context. Finally, students are supported in structuring knowledge in ways appropriate for later use by gaining and working with that knowledge in context that is meaningful to them. Classroom practices such as project and problem based learning would qualify as consistent with the situated learning theory. Thinking about the concept of situated learning, Wilson and Myers (2000) commented that situated learning “is positioned to bring the individual and the social together in a coherent theoretical perspective.”
Affordance is an ecological concept about perception. Gibson’s “affordance” (1979) is a term to characterise the “impact of the environment on an organism’s behaviour, or how it lives in its environment.” Any theory of learning must start with the culture in which the learner resides. This is a critical pedagogical approach by Wenyi Ho (No date). “If knowledge is co-produced by the learner and the situation, the position of the learner within the culture can become an important variable.” There are such a wide range of places that learning can commence, accessible areas which will deepen childrens thinking.  I think it very important for teachers to respect where children come from and their own communities. Therefore need to ensure that their learning has a context in their own environment but also to help them to become comfortable in multiple environments.


Collins, A. (1988). Cognitive Apprenticeship and Instructional technology. (Technical Report No. 6899). BBN Labs Inc., Cambridge, MA. 

Gibson, J. (1979). The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. Boston: Houghton Mifflin

Greeno, J. G. (1998). The Situativity of Knowing, Learning, and Research. American Psychologist, 53(1), 5-26. 

Lave, J. & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Schell, J. W., & Black, R. S. (1997). Situated learning: An inductive case study of a collaborative learning experience. Journal of Industrial Teacher Education, 34, 5-28. 


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How does the Performance of Children in the Classroom Relate to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

In (1943) Abraham Maslow proposed the idea that we all had a hierarchy of needs in his paper “A Theory of Human Motivation.” However it was not until (1954) in his book “Motivation and Personality” that the idea was fully expressed. Maslow believed that every human being had several layers of needs, beginning at the base each layer need must be met before someone can meet the needs of the next layer. The top need is the layer known as “self-actualisation,” Maslow spoke about how he believed that we all have the potential to reach the highest layer but our journey is often disrupted with a failure to meet the needs required in the lower layers. Maslow noted only one in a hundred people become fully self-actualized. This is because our society rewards motivation primarily based on esteem, love and other social needs. Often people get caught between layers moving up and down due to life experiences such a divorce, loss of job or social rejection.

When we think of the hierarchy of needs we often envision a pyramid structure represented in layers as mentioned previously. However Maslow never actually described the hierarchy in such a way or mentioned its representation as a pyramid in any of his writings. The idea of using the pyramid has become the known method of explaining the hierarchy of needs and the visualisation that it allows helps people to understand the concept. Maslow (1954) explained that his hierarchy was a five stage model and he said “the basic needs arrange themselves in a fairly definite hierarchy on the basis of the principle of relative potency.” Therefore each stage is based on the way in which we as human beings develop. For example the physiological needs of a person come before the need to be safe because if we were unable to get food, water or even breathe then the idea of having a house or employment becomes redundant.


Each stage that is found in the hierarchy is applied to human beings and how they live. However considering Maslow’s theory we can apply it to an educational context and more specifically to children. Do these layers or needs affect how children learn, their development and understanding of what is being taught? All children have a set of needs that if met with the help of parents, friends and teachers can help mould a child and build a good foundation for adulthood. If there is a deficiency in the needs or any are neglected it can result in hindering a child’s performance and behaviour in school. If we break the hierarchy down into its five stages we can evaluate the impact they have in the lives of children and their learning.

The first stage is “physiological needs,” considering this stage in terms of a child we can see that just as adults do children require breathing, excretion, food, water and sleep. The other element of this stage is sex, but for a child this not yet relevant. Considering the need for sleep and food further we can see areas of this stage that can seriously affect how a child performs in school. Without a proper diet and reasonable amount of sleep children’s concentration will decline and their minds will be focused on other things such as hunger. As a direct result of this the child will lack the energy required to actively participate in activities throughout the school day and this could affect their performance in the classroom. Problems such as these are often linked to children who come from troubled homes and many schools have set up initiatives to combat some problems that can affect the performance of children in school. School have introduced breakfast clubs where children can receive food before the school day for a cut price or free in some cases.

Once the physiological needs of a child are met they can move on to the second stage which concerns “safety.” The idea of safety is often a second thought to adults however children often worry about their safety and what is going on around them. This is a broad area to consider and needs for physical safety, a secure environment and emotional safety need to be met. Children who live in unstable homes may not have the same sense of safety other children may have. For them the idea of safety is getting through the day without having thoughts to worry about like “Will mummy hit me” or “Will daddy be there when i get home.” Unfortunately in some cases children live in perpetual fear of their home life and school is their only escape. In terms of their education children who come from unstable homes or places where they do not feel safe can often bring their problems with them to school. Reflecting back on Bandura’s (1977) theory of social learning children who observe violent behaviour or abusive language are more likely to replicate the behaviour elsewhere. As a result this means that children may act out and become more troublesome in school not only disrupting their own learning but the learning of others. In these cases good behaviour management and support from the school can help to move the child forward in a positive way.

Moving on to the third stage of the hierarchy “belonging” this is the point where a child wants to feel loved and accepted in several areas of their lives. Their family can provide them with unconditional love which may be enough but many children will want more than this. Schools can provide children with many extra-curricular activities such as sports, creative activities and homework clubs that encourage a child’s sense of belonging to a community. Extra-curricular activities, whether in or outside of school help children to form friendships beyond their family members and in turn provides children with more avenues of support. Belonging to these types of clubs can help children develop many new social skills and other abilities that can aid them in the classroom and in the future.

The fourth stage children seek to meet their needs for self-esteem. This area of their needs can work in tangent with the previous stage as children seek to gain the respect of others in aspects of their life. At this point in their development the idea of achievement is one of the most forward of a child’s thoughts; the take pride in their accomplishments. It is important that as teachers we provide children with the opportunity not only to accomplish goals but also receive praise and recognition for meeting those goals. The thought of working at something that was difficult or very time consuming and completing the task is one that children thrive under. Moreover knowing that someone will take notice and recognise what they have achieved is even more inspiring for a child.

The final stage of the hierarchy of needs is “self-actualisation” according to Maslow (1954) his theory suggests that it is impossible for a child to reach this point in their development. However I want to consider the idea of self-actualisation further; can a child claim to be self-actualised? Firstly, Maslow said that self-actualisation was not possible to all of the previous needs detailed in his theory were met; I believe that children can potentially meet the required needs outlined in the other stages of the model. In addition according to Sprenger (2008) self-actualisation suggests that someone has achieved “what they were born to do.” Now to an adult this might be a specific job or accomplishment that they have worked all of their lives to master or complete. I would agree with Maslow that a child can claim to be self-actualised; however this does not prevent a child entering that level of thinking or need. Considering a child again, they too set goals for themselves and in some cases children aspire to achieve something later on in their life from a very young age. So if a child for example believes that they are born to be a doctor, if they know what they have to do to achieve that and set themselves goals that act as milestones along that journey are they not self-actualising?

Sources, References and Further Reading

Bandura, A. (1977). Social Learning Theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall

Maslow, A. H. (1943). A Theory of Human Motivation. Psychological Review, 50, 370-96.

Maslow, A. H. (1954). Motivation and personality. New York: Harper and Row.

Sprenger, M. (2008) Differentiation through learning styles and memory. London: Sage

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Technology in the Classroom

Throughout history there have been many renowned theorists that have encouraged collaborative learning in the classroom. People who believed that with support of peers or teacher, children could improve their learning experience and help to shape their own development. However it is only over the last few decades that the idea of collaborative learning has considered the integration of technology. Stahl (2004) had a theory suggesting that learning is not a matter of accepting fixed facts, but is the dynamic, on-going, and evolving result of complex interactions primarily taking place within communities of people. Technology allows us, as educators to form these communities that open up a whole new world of collaboration and learning experiences. One of the biggest believers in collaborative learning was Vygotsky. His theory that everyone had a Zone of Proximal Development (1978) suggested the idea that each child has the potential to access an area of knowledge beyond their current understanding. With the help of technology in the classroom children are able to access knowledge that was previously inaccessible to them, understand areas of confusion and work collaboratively in exciting new ways.

Many people consider ICT to only be a subject in the curriculum; however it has come into its own. ICT is a “complex tool which can be used by teachers and be pupils in teaching a learning” (Higgins, 2001). Technology is always changing, becoming more advanced and available for practical uses in many different settings. It is important that we as educators take advantage of this technology, John and Sutherland (2005) point out that “in recent years the emergence of new digital technologies has offered up the possibility of extending and deepening classroom learning opportunities.” These opportunities are furthered by the ever increasing speed of the internet; this combined with mobile technologies that have rocketed in popularity recently, opens up a new world or e-learning opportunities that we must take advantage of. The multimodal capabilities that technology can provide allow the teacher to present their lessons in a variety of ways, ensuring that they cater for all types of learner. Meeting the needs of every child is important, engaged children will interact in the lesson, getting more involved and take a genuine interest in what is being taught.

Technology in the classroom allows teachers to explore and find new ways of engaging different children and to encourage them to take an active role in their own learning. Computer games are often thought of as purely a leisure activity. However recent interest in education has seen the potential for play to form the basis of learning. Computer games could be individual or whole class activities which the children enjoy playing but each games as an educational theme that develops a child’s understanding of a subject area. Interest in the use of computer games in school has grown as computers and technology have become more readily available in homes. This would allow children through the use of an internet connection to begin a game in school and continue on from the same point when they are at home. Therefore learning will have expanded beyond the traditional classroom and children are having fun whilst building upon the learning that took place in school that day. Technology in the classroom allows children to work individually or in small groups using PCs, mobile devices or tablets developing a range of skills. Some of the skills that computer games develop are outlined by Kirriemuir and McFarlane (2004). These skills are; Strategic thinking, planning, communication, application of numbers, negotiating skills, group decision-making and data handling.

When the idea of children using computers in the classroom began it meant a child or group of children crammed around one desktop PC fixed to a table. However advances in technology now mean that the computer is no longer fixed to one space. We now have access to a wide range of mobile technology and tablets that allow children to pick them up and move around the classroom. This mobility allows children to record data at the scene of an experiment, use the technology in group activities or even take their learning to a more comfortable area in the classroom. The idea of technology in the classroom is not to replace traditional methods, but in fact to integrate it with traditional learning to enhance the learning experience for the children.

When technology is integrated into a classroom it provides the teacher with the opportunity to globalise the school and the learning that is taking place. Many would consider the school’s website to be its only global presence but in fact classes can take advantage of social networking and other media to enhance the school’s reputation on a global scale. The benefits of his far exceed the idea of promoting the school; in fact it allows children to collaborate with other teachers and children around the world. An excellent example of this is 100wc, set up by Head teacher Julia Skinner it facilitates the uploading of children’s short 100 word blog posts. Skinner has gathered a network of trainee and qualified teachers who log on and post comments on children’s work. Knowing that someone is reading their work from another part of the country or somewhere else altogether is great motivation for a child to continue to write. Of course there are safety issues when it comes to sharing information but the children’s surnames in this case are not used and only those with a login can access the work.

It is of quintessential importance that technology is used to further the learning experience of children; combined with outstanding teaching it creates an environment conducive to student participation and development. Alexander (2008) says that “dialogic teaching harnesses the power of talk to engage children, stimulate and extend their thinking, and advance their learning and understanding.” This type of teaching means using talk more effectively. Rather than a teacher just presenting the work, they should be having on-going discussion with the children. This helps to develop ideas, understanding and model subject specific language. Integrating this method of teaching with technology provides the chance for interactivity to support explanations and learning.

In (1987) Shulman proposed a model of pedagogical reasoning which outlined the knowledge needed by a teacher to plan, teach, assess and evaluate. His model consisted of six elements, these being; comprehension, transformation, instruction, evaluation, reflection and new comprehensions.in each of the areas of his model we can incorporate technology, allowing us as educators to transform aspect of our teaching to provide multimodal ways to represent ideas and evaluate lessons. However Technology is not always necessary so it is at the teacher’s discretion to decide what the unique contribution technology can bring to the lesson. In terms of comprehension the use of ICT is quite limited however using the internet it could be used to provide the children with a range of sources to back up subject knowledge. At the transformation stage the teacher is required to transform their understanding of a topic into a form that the children will grasp. Again the use of technology is very limited at this stage as it requires the teacher to use their own professional judgement. However as the teacher beings to create representations and prepares their lesson the opportunities to use ICT increase and technology such as PowerPoint and Smart Board can be used. It is at this stage the teacher should consider how technology can be ensure the lesson is multimodal, Shulman (1987) himself said “multiple forms of representation are desirable.” By the time instruction stage is reached all planning is finished at at this point the lesson is underway. Technology can be used now collaboratively or individually as a tool to support the children’s understanding of a particular topic. For example there is an IPad app that allows children to explore the body; the different bones, organs etc. If used properly in group work it could support the creation of a poster or fact sheet. Finally considering the evaluation sections of the model technology can be used but its influence will be minimal. Evaluations are conducted by the teacher based on their own thoughts and opinions, however if areas of the lesson have been recorded on video cameras or photos have been taken it can help support the teacher as he/she evaluates.
Web 2.0 referred to the “mass socialisation” of internet connectivity and is centred around communities rather than the individual (Selwyn et al, 2010). In 2001 Prensky coined the term “digital natives” a phrase used to describe the generation that grew up with mobile technology and tools of the digital age. He argued that technology is now part of children’s everyday lives and how they are surrounded by it. Today people are talking about the possibility of the development of the semantic web or web 3.0. Digital technologies are widely seen to support learning and help children develop a greater working memory, be more adept at perceptual learning and have better motor skills (Selwyn et al, 2010). With all the positives that technology can provide in the classroom and the fact that our children are now growing up in a world where they are immersed in technology it seems foolish to not integrate their learning with such a large part of their lives.

ipad kids

References, Sources and Further Reading

  • Stahl, G. (2004).Building collaborative Knowing: Elements of a Social Theory of CSCL. In J.-W. Strijbos, P. Kirschner & R. Martens (Eds.), What we know about CSCL: And implementing it in higher education (pp. 53-86). Boston, MA: Kluwer Academic Publishers
  • Vygotsky, L. (1978). Interaction between learning and development. From: Mind and Society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press
  • Higgens, S. (2001) ICT and Teaching for Understanding. Evaluating and Research in Education. 15:3, 164-171
  • John, P., Sutherland, R. (2005) Affordance, opportunity and the pedagogical implications of ICT Educational Review 57 (4) , 405-414
  • Kirriemuir, J and McFarlane, A. (2004). Literature Review in Games and Learning. Bristol: Futurelab.
  • Alexander, R. (2008). Dialogic Teaching, 4th edition, York: Dialogos.
  • Beauchamp, G. (2012) ICT in the Primary School, from Pedagogy to Practice. Essex: Pearson Education.
  • Selwyn, N., Potter, J. and Cranmer, S. (2010) Primary Schools and ICT, Learning from Pupil Perspectives. London: Continuum International.
  • Prensky, M. (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, On the Horizon, 9(5), pp 1-6.


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