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Bloom’s Taxonomy and the Digital World

Bloom’s Taxonomy, developed in the 1950’s, expresses thinking and learning through a set of concepts that begin with lower order thinking skills (LOTS) and build to higher order thinking skills (HOTS). The initial phraseology of Bloom’s Taxonomy had six levels, beginning with knowledge at the lowest, then progressing through comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation.

The basis for the theory is rather straightforward, a person cannot understand something that he does not remember (know) nor can he/she analyze or apply that knowledge if the person does not understand the material. Though an ability to analyze and apply certainly supersedes the basic knowledge category, to synthesize entails divergently applying knowledge and/or skills to produce something new. Lastly, evaluating or judging the value of material is necessary to produce a worthy final end product.

In education, quality teachers seek to bring their students to the HOTS level of the taxonomy whenever possible. Acquiring knowledge and even comprehending information pale in comparison to being able to apply that knowledge. In addition, as additional ideas come forward, the complexities that emerge demand further analysis of the information, etc.

Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy
Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy, constructed over the last 15 years, turns these words into different phrases. In the revised taxonomy, verbs are used rather than nouns to express the concept. Amazon.comThe revised taxonomy begins with the word remembering before moving to understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating and creating. Perhaps most importantly, there has been a general consensus of a change at level five and six, with evaluating being seen as a lower level to that of creating.

But today’s educational landscape is vastly different from that of yesterday rendering a lack of clarity as to where the levels of the taxonomy fit. As education heads into the digital world, many teachers struggle with where to place many of the new technology tasks within this long-standing hierarchal guide to teaching and learning.

Blooms in a Digital World

edorigamiThanks to some great work by Andrew Churches, educators have a basis by which to compare digital techniques to the more traditional standard that Bloom created. Mr. Churches is from New Zealand and is a Middle School teacher and Information Communication Technology enthusiast. On his website, Mr. Churches states, “I believe that to prepare our students for the future, we must prepare them for change, teach them to question and think, to adapt and modify, to sift and sort. I am fortunate to teach at a school with a mobile computing program, that sees students with personal mobile devices, laptops.”

Clearly there are fine lines of delineation in many aspects but his work provides a great framework from which educators can approach the topic. What follows is a summary of his Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy (PDF).

Remembering
For the first area in the revised taxonomy, remembering, the focus is on retrieval of information. Under the traditional Bloom theory, we would use phrases like recognizing, listing, describing, naming and locating. Churches indicates that as we head towards the digital world we might more likely use phrases like bulleting to mark key words or phrases for recall. Likewise, students might bookmark or favorite a web page or site for future use. Yet another aspect for this fundamental step in the taxonomy would be the social networking arena where links between people are critical. Social bookmarking, the online version of local bookmarking or favorites, is apropos and likely a tad more advanced because users could draw on others’ bookmarks. Lastly, educators should take note that Churches sees the most popular task, that of searching or “Googling” as another remembering concept provided the search does not move beyond the fundamental key word or term.

edorigamiUnderstanding
Here the traditional taxonomy phrases become interpreting, summarizing, inferring, paraphrasing, comparing, and explaining. In the new digital world, Churches sees the step towards refining basic search techniques as a step along the path of understanding. Blog journaling would be another aspect as long as the focus was on simply “talking,” “writing,” or “typing” a task-specific entry. As but another example would be Twittering and answering the basic question, “what are you doing?” Churches notes that Twittering and journaling can easily move beyond the understanding level to higher levels of the taxonomy if these tools are used to develop greater understanding or if they are used to collaborate with peers. Churches notes two other digital areas fitting the understanding level, that of categorizing and of commenting/annotating files. The digital organizing and classifying of files clearly demonstrates a level of understanding while commenting and annotating web pages is likely analogous to taking notes.

Applying
Progressing up the Bloom’s ladder, the next level is referred to as applying. In the traditional Bloom format, we are talking about implementation, using information, and executing tasks. Here Churches offers several examples of students “doing.” For example, here we would find students initiating a program and/or operating and manipulating hardware and applications. Gaming technology would also fit as students would be demonstrating both understanding of the process and the skill set, then be applying them to the game task. Applying would also involve the uploading and appropriate sharing of materials on a site such as Flickr. It is at this point that Churches brings in editing skills and combines them with the understanding of tasks like Twittering and/or journaling. Lastly, the application level is where Churches places simple hacking, defining this term as “applying a simple set of rules to achieve a goal or objective.”

Analyzing

As we move ever further into the Higher Order Thinking Skills we move into analyzing what has been learned. Traditional Bloom’s taxonomy phrases are comparing, organizing, structuring, and integrating. Digital equivalents would involve mash ups where several data sources are melded into a single set of usable information. Churches also places the proper establishment of links within documents and web pages in the analyzing category. At this level, Churches indicates that though a wealth of data is available to students much of it may lack veracity. Therefore it is essential students be able to validate their information. Churches places this aspect in the analyzing category though this appears to involve both analysis and making judgments so we might be more inclined to slide this task to the next level in the taxonomy. Another aspect Churches lists here involves tagging, the “organizing, structuring and attributing online data, meta-tagging web pages, etc.” Certainly students must be able to understand the materials to be able to perform this step though there is some obvious overlap with the prior applying level. It is in this category that Churches places the reverse-engineering (possibly positive) and cracking (not likely positive) behaviors.

edorigamiEvaluating
Under the traditional Bloom’s format, the fifth level of evaluating refers to hypothesizing, critiquing, experimenting, judging, testing and monitoring. As we noted above, this is where students begin to place informed judgments to start towards new ideas. Churches considers blog commenting and reflecting where students comment and reply to other postings as a simple example of this aspect. Essentially, students examining material in context and then replying must be doing some form of evaluation. For these comments, there is the posting of an appropriate, thoughtful, in depth response by one party and the potential evaluation or moderation of those posts by another party, so there are two very important distinct applications. Under the collaboration and networking aspect, Churches rightfully notes that “effective collaboration involves evaluating the strengths and abilities of the participants and evaluating the contribution they make.” Testing a product or application is also a key component at this level. For anyone to effectively test a process or tool the tester must have the ability to analyze the purpose of the tool or process. That demands both the knowledge of what the correct function should entail versus that which it currently does entail.

Creating
As we complete the Taxonomy, at the highest level we see students creating. Here the focus is on designing, inventing, constructing, planning and producing. Given this expectation, it is easy to see why more and more people are placing greater emphasis on creativity within the school setting. It is here we would find technology mixing heavily with the creative process. It could involve audio and video and come in the form of a film, an animation, a videocast, or a podcast. This arena features a heavy dose of mixing and remixing to ultimately produce unique products. Ultimately, there is publishing of some type here, so anything related to a written or video blog, even a Wiki would relate. Churches also offers additional digital equivalents at this level of the Taxonomy as the creation of a program application or the development of a game.

Conclusion
Churches work gives educators an excellent framework from which to begin to assess their digital practices. We recognize that many teachers tend to push the “search” concept, especially search refinements, further up the taxonomy levels. But at the same time Churches digital examples at the evaluation level provide strong reinforcement for the use of blogs and Wikis to greatly enhance learning. Teachers seeking a more in depth look at Churches’ thoughts should turn to “Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy.”

18 comments

1 Julie Lindsay { 04.14.08 at 3:16 pm }

Thank you for great material that is readily usable and transferable to classroom and authentic assessment situations using digital tools.

2 mister mark { 04.14.08 at 3:29 pm }

Great stuff! Meeting with my tech team in a couple minutes, a nice warm-up read.
thanks

3 Lisa Thumann { 04.14.08 at 3:42 pm }

Thank you for posting this – we need more written up about the revised Blooms as it relates to technology. Very well done.

4 Kim Tufts { 04.14.08 at 9:22 pm }

This is so Awesome! Thank you so much for the great Bloom’s information. I love the PDF and will print it to go over for new technology curriculum for upcoming year!

5 Jawahar { 04.15.08 at 3:49 pm }

Its really opens me an another avenue to think it over about applying the methodology at present scecnario. I really thank you somuch for giveing me the information.

6 "Big Rocks" and Classroom Apathy (Stream of Consciousness) | VanishingPoint { 04.16.08 at 12:45 am }

[…] Bloom’s Taxonomy and the Digital World — Open Education […]

7 vendelinus { 04.16.08 at 12:20 pm }

According to my own opinion the information provided is crucial to me since that I’m a student teacher expecting to go in the fields in few months to come it is important to use the ideas of Bloom’s Taxonomy since that it talk about thinking. Learners expected to gain high order of thinking, one they can not do it unless they are developed a bit by a bit by their teachers who have acquired knowledge from Bloom’s Taxonomy

8 scottmerrick { 04.28.08 at 6:31 am }

Thank you for pointing us to this crucial element in our own learning pathways. I’ll reference it often and have added Open Education to my (sadly already unwieldy) netvibes feeds. Church has done us all a service (is that a bad pun?) by repurposing a core touchstone to reflect a changing world.

Motivated by a provocative comment by Will Richardson in a work shop a few weeks ago, I have helped my 3rd and 4th graders begin to learn “hyperlinking” in an intentional way this week, and the digital taxonomy will help me explain that skill’s ad hoc inclusion in my curriculum.

9 Andrew Churches { 07.04.08 at 4:22 pm }

Thank you for the review and I truely feel humbled. I am glad to have been of help.

A

10 21st Century Classrooms - Technology Integration Matrix - OpenEducation.net { 09.06.08 at 5:00 pm }

[…] mid-April we summarized the great work of Andrew Churches in our post “Bloom’s Taxonomy and the Digital World.” The middle school teacher and information communication technology enthusiast from New […]

11 Jhenny { 09.22.08 at 11:26 pm }

Based on the topic intitled”Blooms Taxonomy and the Digital World”, Andrew Churches explained changes on the teachers teaching styles to adjust to our environment especially that we are now in the digital world. Yes, teachers should think new strategies of teaching that would help their students adopt to the rapid change in our technology.
The old idea about taxon0my is still right, learning has a process, beginning with knowledge at the lowest, then progressing through comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation but we need to adjust to cope with the development in technology. I believe that Andrew Churches is right when he said that to prepare students for the future, teachers must prepare them for change, teach them to question and think, to adapt and modify, to sift and sort.

12 Justin { 12.07.08 at 5:47 pm }

I thought this was a nice little refresher of Bloom’s Taxonomy, but am I missing something? I don’t see very much in terms of new insights. I think adding how using blogs fits in is the only new take. Are there any major insights left out made by Andrew Church? Otherwise I don’t see much value here. I tried following the links but they are broken. Everyone, however, could use a reminder of looking at what we do in the classroom in relation to Bloom’s work.

13 Thomas { 12.07.08 at 8:59 pm }

Justin,
Thanks for writing – our apologies on the pages being moved – we have corrected the link issues. What made Churches work so interesting to us was his placement of various forms on new technology within the Bloom framework; blogs being one item, but where one places bookmarking, social networking, and most importantly, levels of video game play, also received mention and placement.
TH

14 april { 03.24.09 at 2:12 am }

hello a great posting huh…….you can help us by that…..thanks

15 jajan { 03.24.09 at 2:13 am }

hi there cool……write up’s

16 lee mee { 07.04.09 at 4:11 am }

for IT dinosaur like me who is still a practising classroom teacher, I really appreciate the way you ve linked and simplified the ideas so that we can apply it so seamlessly! Thanks a megabyte!

17 Keith Critchett { 09.04.09 at 3:01 am }

Excellent, thank you so much for this insight into digital learning

18 Laurence Peters { 05.14.10 at 10:47 am }

This is what great blogging is all about letting us know about people like
Andrew Churches! This is very useful work you are doing..Thanks!

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