A Digital Bloom

You can never be sure what reaction you will get if you bring up Bloom's taxonomy with a teacher. Though it is fairly ubiquitous in the K-12 world, it is equally unheard of with higher ed faculty. That's a bit odd, since it came from higher education research, but not so odd because K-12 faculty are the ones who take the education courses. A school district that I worked in for many years used it so much for a few years that it would illicit groans when it was brought up.

If you are familiar with Bloom's taxonomy, you can skip down to the Going Digital section.

A group of colleges, led by Benjamin Bloom (1956), knowing that there is more than one type of learning, identified three domains of educational activities: Cognitive (mental skills or knowledge), Affective (growth in feelings or emotional areas or attitude) and Psychomotor (manual or physical skills).

If you want to think of that taxonomy as helping to set your educational goals, then learners should have acquired new skills, knowledge, and/or attitudes when the activity is completed.

Though they produced a framework for the cognitive and affective domains, they did far less with the psychomotor domain which was seen as "manual skills" which was not seen as the purview of college courses. The three domains are subdivided and classified from simplest behavior to the most complex. Though other systems and hierarchies have emerged since Bloom's work, his taxonomy is still probably the most widely used way to categorize and order thinking skills and objectives. It's logical and follows the thinking process. You can't understand something you don't remember, and you can't apply them if you don't understand them.

The original taxonomy was revised in the 1990's by a student of Bloom (Lorin Anderson) using actions/verbs rather than nouns for the categories and changing the hierarchy at the top.

steps version

Another visual variation on the taxonomy

Many people have done variations on the taxonomy (such as the Bloom rose or "steps of rigor" version shown here) to explain what types of lessons or activities address lower and higher level skills.


More recent revisions and additions have often focused on addressing digital skills. Where "remembering" always included activities like having learners recognizing, listing, describing, identifying, retrieving, naming, locating, finding etc., now people are adding ones they feel students do or need to do in a digital world. They are not so much new skills as they are additional ways of doing things.

For example, "listing" might include being able to do bullet-pointing.  Identifying could include highlighting. We often do bookmarking/favoriting online as part of our way of remembering sites of information. (Getting into "social bookmarking" probably jumps you up to a somewhat higher order because of the collaborative aspect.)

Think about that most natural of online tasks for students today - search. Depending on the student's grade level, you can easily imagine a hierarchy of search skills from the simple enter a keyword to the higher order skills of understanding how to do a Boolean search, what the results mean, analyzing the validity of information sources and creating something new and original from what is found.

Where do we place things like creating a podcast, writing a blog, creating a mashup or playing an educational game?

Some possibilities in the category of "understanding/comprehension" (going beyond the recall of knowledge) might include commenting and annotating web pages and documents online or categorizing materials or sites and setting up a folder or organizational tree.

Moving up to "applying" that understood knowledge, you will typically use actions such as comparing, organizing, outlining, mind-mapping and integrating. Turning digital, you could use mashing, linking, reverse-engineering, cracking, and tagging. Mashups, for example, take pre-existing digital elements and combine them to apply to a new problem or use. As student using Google Maps to plot the journey of the protagonist in a literary work would be using knowledge, comprehension, application and probably higher skills in the taxonomy to complete the work.

The more you work with the taxonomy, the more you realize that there is a lot of overlap and that the best activities bridge several levels. It's also important that you not think of "lower level" activities as a negative. The higher level work never gets done without the knowledge base and understanding. But, a course that remains only in those lower levels is doing learners a disservice. I have had instructors tell me that, "It's a 101 course and I just have to dump a lot of knowledge into those kids." That's painful to hear - though less painful than actually being a student in that class.

Think about having students reverse-engineer or deconstruct something like an iPhone application, evaluate its effectiveness and then build their own app. You couldn't keep that type of activity into one level no matter how hard you tried. It runs up all the levels.

And the use of a digital taxonomy is not limited to "technology class" assignments. For example, most of the work being done with digital storytelling addresses all the levels.

On top of the taxonomy are the students who are filming, animating, podcasting, mixing and remixing, directing or producing a product, performance or production and "publishing" (via the web, or in text, media or digital formats) it on a wiki, YouTube, their own e-portfolio or a school site.

Taxonomy is the practice and science of classification. Its Greek root is in taxis, meaning "order" or "arrangement," and it is one way to bring order to the process of learning and creating learning situations.


Bloom's Taxonomy Blooms Digitally   

Bloom and Technology Tools for Instruction  

Intro to Benjamin Bloom http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Bloom

Bloom’s Taxonomy—How to Make Your Studying Perfect?



Trackback specific URI for this entry


Display comments as Linear | Threaded

No comments

Add Comment

Enclosing asterisks marks text as bold (*word*), underscore are made via _word_.
Standard emoticons like :-) and ;-) are converted to images.
BBCode format allowed
E-Mail addresses will not be displayed and will only be used for E-Mail notifications.
To leave a comment you must approve it via e-mail, which will be sent to your address after submission.

To prevent automated Bots from commentspamming, please enter the string you see in the image below in the appropriate input box. Your comment will only be submitted if the strings match. Please ensure that your browser supports and accepts cookies, or your comment cannot be verified correctly.