What kind of revolution? Thinking and rethinking educational technologies in the time of COVID-19

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Background: The transition to technology-mediated remote schooling during the COVID-19 pandemic represented a drastic shift in educational technologies’ function in K-12 settings. This theoretical paper sought to: (1) identify key developments in technology-use during the pandemic; (2) situate current events within the Learning Sciences’ evolving conceptualizations of educational technologies; and (3) outline how these developments should reframe our thinking about educational technologies. Methods: The paper is structured along three sets of relations, intended to support analyses that go beyond determinist or instrumental depictions of educational technologies: education-technology, human-technology, and human-education. Findings: I outline three key characteristics of educational technologies’ function during the pandemic: they were central to the grammar of schooling, their use was widespread across social contexts, and was need-driven rather than innovation-driven. Contribution: Accordingly, the paper suggests reorienting existing conceptualizations of educational technologies: (i) rethinking learning—avoiding the portrayal of technologies as solutions to educational problems and examining how they reshape learning; (ii) rethinking context—attending more to how socio-cultural, political, and historical features inform technological affordances; (iii) rethinking teaching—emphasizing adults’ role in mediating the normative commitments underlying technology-use, particularly in light of the dominance of commercial platforms and tools.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the Learning Sciences
StateAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2021


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