Bloom’s Thinking Skills ≠ Apps

A guide associating iPad apps with Bloom's Taxonomy.
So you’re saying that searching Google is the same as Remembering?

I’ve been researching Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy of Cognitive Tasks, and I’ve been seeing a number of guides attempt to match iPad apps with each level in Bloom’s hierarchy. These app guides seem built on a false assumption that using a certain app will reliably stimulate a certain mode of thinking. I think equating apps with Bloom’s thinking tasks create the false impression that if you have all the right apps, your students can just click their way to critical thinking.

To be generous, you definitely could use many of these apps to exhibit the qualities of thinking Bloom describes, just as you could do with paper and pencil, a Word doc, a microphone, a camera, or a PowerPoint. The problem, of course, is that you can also successfully use those apps without exhibiting any of the desired thinking skills. The worst case scenario, of course, is that you squander valuable class time (and money!) on a huge repertoire of apps that don’t help your students become better critical thinkers, problem solvers, know-ers, and do-ers.

Apps can be as distracting as they are stimulating, and you could get lost in the details of each app without having a clear idea of what thinking task you’re supposed to be focusing on. You may discover too late that your amazing Keynote presentation doesn’t actually apply previously learned content towards solving a novel problem. You may find that tweeting about something you learned does not make you more likely to recall it later (much less understand it), or that the Evernote-as-flash-cards app “Peek” has nothing at all to do with evaluating ideas against agreed-upon standards (who came up with this diagram anyway?).

So please– think critically about your education technology choices before you implement them. If you need help, there’s a great underused document called Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy that can help you. It doesn’t light up and it’s not multi-touch-sensitive, but it’s got some good ideas nonetheless.
bloom's revised taxonomy

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