Form Follows Function: Structures in Education: Building Frameworks for Ed-Tech Integration


I was facilitating student learning about structures with the Grade 3 classes, when an idea struck me. I realised that just as we need to consider many key factors in building the strongest and most useful structures in our society, we need to consider similar factors to build technology frameworks to support edtech integration in our schools.

Structures are made to hold things up, and to hold things together. Further, the shape of something should depend on what it does, and on what it is made of.

With that in mind, we understand that the function of a structure will determine what form it needs to take. Form needs to follow function. Without this principle in place, we would build structures that would make life more difficult for us, rather than easier.

If we are thinking about building frameworks to support Tech-Integration in our schools, we need to think about the functions first. Then decide on the most appropriate forms that need to be in place for success.

Specific technologies are built and designed to meet the needs of their own functions. In education, we need to identify the forms and functions that will best support student learning both now and in the future. Then we need to build it.

What forms and functions do we need to meet the demands of our learners

1. First, we need to understand the functions of what we are doing. We need effectively understand our own pedagogy first before we can integrate technology effectively. It always helps to reflect upon and understand what our pedagogy is really about. Explore it. Critically think about it. It is also fluid and ever-changing, just like the knowledges we try to help our students formulate. However, if we don’t understand the basic functions of what we are doing, we won’t understand how to design the forms of PD and different technologies that will help us.

When we examine this, we understand the function of our work. When we understand the function of what we are doing in the classroom. This helps us to to decide on the form that technology integration needs to take. 

For instance, social media has become intimately woven into the fabric of many facets of society. It has demonstrated inherent potential to transform the globe into a community. When chosen thoughtfully, and built with key design features in mind, the function of social media can be very worthwhile. If we understand this, then we can choose and build the technology to effectively support that which is worthwhile in our lives.

Every community, every culture, every classroom community and culture, may need to build their frameworks and technological structures slightly differently, depending upon what is important to that community or culture.

2. We need to have a supportive framework or form that will effectively support tech-enabled environments – this includes PD that is molded appropriately to the function of that which we are trying to accomplish. Form follows function.

In the 21st century, the amount of information that our students must process has grown exponentially, and will just continue to grow. This is one area where we really need to build capacity with our educators, and learners. We need a framework that supports this exponential growth. This will help us to create set boundaries, spaces, location, and materials that will best support learning (and the functions of what we do with our learners).

The structures need to be built differently now in our 21st Century, than they were originally built in the 1800’s. It is a very big structural shift. A change in architecture to meet the modern needs of our learners and communities.

On  final note, just as tall buildings are not as strong when they are completely rigid – our frameworks also need to be somewhat flexible to have a better chance for standing taller, and for longer periods of time. The tallest structures have a better chance of weathering the fiercest storms when they are able to move and bend to some degree. The structures of our schools and classrooms need to be purposefully built, yet flexible enough to be able to withstand the challenges we face within rapidly evolving world of technology and knowledge building environments.

There will always be benefits, and burdens of the technological structures in our lives.

But technologies will not stop evolving.

Our learners deserve a framework that will support all conditions, all situations in the best way they can.

Though not a formula, we strive to understand the ‘need’. Then we know where to begin. This could be different for everyone, but a solid framework to support us is necessary.

Deborah McCallum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



3 responses to “Form Follows Function: Structures in Education: Building Frameworks for Ed-Tech Integration”

  1. It is not about the technology. It is about what we do with it. | Big Ideas in Education Avatar

    […] the ‘frameworks’ that the students, teachers, community members can engage with. The structures to connect people across time and space to share knowledge and ideas about the books. To give […]


  2. What is important in Education? | Big Ideas in Education Avatar

    […] that literacy and learning takes many forms and functions – just as our physical structures […]


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