Criteria 2 - Understand the implications of different levels of digital technology use on student learning

Criteria 1 Criteria 2 Criteria 3 Criteria 4 Criteria 5 Criteria 6 Criteria 7 Criteria 8 Review

It has been recognised for over 20 years that the introduction of a new digital tool does not change students outcomes (Simmt, 1997) in mathematics. Considering that, it is troubling teachers generally use digital tools in existing instructional methods for efficiency rather than undergoing pedagogical reform that results in improved student outcomes (Puentedura, 2006). As such, frameworks like blooms digital taxonomy (Churches, 2010) and SAMR (Puentedura, 2006) have been created to help improve teachers implementation of digital tools in the classroom.

Hamilton et al. (2016) explains that SAMR (and by extension blooms digital hierarchy) actually encourages teachers to use technology in sterile and hierarchical ways that results in mislead pedagogical choices. Hamilton et als. (2016) reasoning is three fold:

  • absence of context: SAMR includes no accommodation for context; teachers pedagogy and students learning are contextual within complex systems.
  • Rigid Structure: SAMR and Blooms digital taxonomy are deterministic and linear in nature which directly opposes the dynamic nature of learning and the classroom.
  • Product over Process: Technology plays a role in learning but as long as the objectives are reached, one method or tool should not be promoted over another just because the task was redefined (SAMR) or creative (Bloom’s) in nature.

As such, this analysis of technology use on student learning will utilise the social constructivist digital literacy (SCDL) framework (Reynolds, 2016). SCDL consists of six contemporary learning practices that appropriately represent the breadth of activity common in the 21st century while recognising the interoperability and service they provide each other rather than being mutually exclusive or hierarchical in nature.

Figure 1. Redeveloped model of Reynolds (2016) SCDL framework Developed by Joanne Blannin

Source: Workshop 3 -

Analysing and evaluating Desmos’ planned implementation (criteria 5) using SCDL

Surf/Play – Rather than passively receiving instruction students can and will actively experiment and play with both the Desmos GDS and during assigned Desmos learning activities.

  • This allows students to gain an understanding of the topic at hand while gaining ideas for their own solutions and design possibilities. By providing students with scaffolded learning activities that still allows experimentation Desmos further permits students to form their own ideas/possibilities while better understanding the relationship between values in functions and graphical representations. Furthermore, any play actively improves student familiarity with the tool while catering to student interests and learning profile. The challenge is ensuring students have the prerequisite knowledge required to initially employ the interface.

Research – To better develop their understanding of the tool and possibilities students will be encouraged to explore Desmos capabilities outside of simple graphing tools.

  • This improves students inquiry and information seeking skills. The challenge here is to develop students mathematical literacy and search skill to find appropriate examples and solutions outside of the guided inquiry design in the Desmos learning activities.

Socialise – Students, through Desmos learning activities, actively share, comment and respond to critique on explanations and solutions they generate.

  • As part of this students are openly engaging in dialogue with their peers exchanging ideas, feedback and providing help both through Desmos and verbally during activities. The problem with Desmos is that while it provides a portal for communication it does not limit or guide mathematical communication standards. As such, for improved outcomes additional support must be provided to students on how to communicate mathematical ideas effectively and correctly.

Publish – Desmos allows for the saving, posting and sharing of digital artefacts.

  • Demos does not incorporate a revision control or messaging system outside of premade learning activities, as such progress tracking and editing of larger works becomes harder. On the other hand, adding revision control adds significant tedium, additional operational learning and therefor cognitive load.

Manage – As above Desmos does not have revision control or management tools incorporated.

  • For the incorporation of true digital management tools you will need to go beyond Desmos. On the other hand, rather than implementing an external tool and focusing on a management product this could be used to force students to focus on the process. By restricting student use to Desmos it encourages improved (non digital) communication, planning and teamwork all useful from team based problem solving.

Create – at the forefront of the Desmos graphing interface is invention and creation. The only restriction is the student’s imagination and function knowledge.

  • Students are able to create an original idea and transform it into an executable project that results in an artefact of their own authoring. Creative tasks such as these improve computational thinking simultaneous to subject area learning. The significant issue is that if used alone, without learning activities or true experimentation, creation does not guarantee improved knowledge of mathematical functions and their graphical representations. As such, careful observation is required by the teacher during creation time to identify misconceptions or knowledge ceilings impeding further progress.


Churches, A. (2010). Bloom’s digital taxonomy. Australian School Library Association NSW Incorporated.

Hamilton, E. R., Rosenberg, J. M., & Akcaoglu, M. (2016). The substitution augmentation modification redefinition (SAMR) model: A critical review and suggestions for its use. TechTrends, 60(5), 433–441.

Puentedura, R. (2006). Transformation, technology, and education [Blog post]. Retrieved November 5, 2019, from

Reynolds, R. (2016). Defining, designing for, and measuring “social constructivist digital literacy” development in learners: A proposed framework. Educational Technology Research and Development, 64(4), 735–762.

Simmt, E. (1997). Graphing calculators in high school mathematics. Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, 16(2), 269–289.