“The goal is not improving… is deffending”

A couple of weeks ago, I had the good fortune to meet in person one of the authors I have found most suggestive in recent times in the literature on educational technology (I confess that the list of suggestive in recent times is quite long), and one of whom has also made me think more about, what I want to do from now on Ed Tech: Maarten Simons from UK-Leuven.

Professor Simons, together with his colleague Mathias Decruypere have written some very interesting papers on socio-material analysis of educational environments. And, answering to my interest in meeting them and seeking some synergy between our work, they kindly agreed to meet me for a short while on my recent visit to Leuven.

This is not a post about socio-materiality, neither about research methodology in educational technology (although I highly recommend the works not only of Simons and Decruypere, but of Martin Oliver and Leslie Gourlay, among others). It’s about something we talked to Professor Simons about.

When we were trying to understand better what the “other’s” starting point was, and why I had asked for a meeting, Professor Simons gave me a “warning” (a “warning to sailors” to be more precise), which I found difficult to digest in the beginning, but which gave me much to think about. He told me something like (attention to the fact that these are my memories, maybe I’m wrong about my words between my nerves and my poor English):

I do not seek to improve education, I do not believe in the need for everything we research to “improve” education. And I don’t care if I look conservative with a position like that, but I want to know better, understand, even defend education.

In the same line of research, this open access book, signed for the two authors

Masschelein, J., & Simons, M. (2013). In defence of the school. A public issue. Leuven: E-ducation, Culture & Society Publishers. https://lirias.kuleuven.be/bitstream/123456789/400685/1/https://lirias.kuleuven.be/bitstream/123456789/400685/1/

He emphasized VERY clearly that he is not one of those who try to justify everything they do in education with an interest in the “improvement” of education (while I was listening to him, it rumbled in my head that school is not a company because we are not looking for infinite improvement). He wants to know, understand and, why not, defend education of the elements that impact on them at the moment when it is inserted (political, economic, technological, epistemological, social)…)…

and I confess that, granted the current Spanish and Worldwide situation, it’s one of the most revolutionary things I can think of lately.

Simons has written a lot about school learning, which moves away from the school as a building or as an organization, and becomes a different reality and I invite you to read it. To begin with, I invite you to read this work from 2015:

Masschelein, J., & Simons, M. (2015). Education in times of fast learning: The future of the school. Ethics and Education, 10(1), 84-95.

In that meeting, I learned many things from my interlocutors (and I will intend to learn more in the future), from myself, from education in general and from educational technology in particular, but today I just wanted to share with you this little bit of my experience, and recommend to you vividly the reflection of this author.

I hope it gives you a lot to think about.


  • Professor Simons is Professor of Theory and History of Education at UK Leuven.
  • And what was I doing in Leuven? I was participating in the International Week of the UC-Leuven Teacher Training School, thanks to the invitation of my colleague Karine Hindrix. Thanks to her I had this wonderful learning opportunity.

Thinking on Teaching Competence for a Digital World

For some months now, in informal conversations with other colleagues and, more in depth with my friends Francesc Esteve and Jordi Adell, we have been thinking about the idea that the definition of Teaching Digital Competence (hereinafter TDC), as it is proposed in most of the available models, left us with too many “unfinished ideas”…

Basically, we believed – we still believe – that the existing TDC models are based on a vision of what is digital competence (generic), that is used as fundamentals, and on top, pedagogy is “spread” as a layer (like butter)… but definitively in a too thin layer. As a result, these models – and their developments – are guilty of three main evils at least:

  • They do not understand teaching action as an integral action beyond the performance of the classroom.
  • They have a reduced and reductionist view of technology
  • They do not make explicit the type of competence model that underlies them, and if they do, they tend to coincide with models of mangerialism models, rather than integral development ones.

So we decided to work on these ideas and, in addition to a more in-depth analysis of existing CDD models, we would like proposing at least a first outline of what a Model of Teaching Competence for the Digital World would be. That is to say, a model that understands that the base is the teaching action and on it, is “spread” (to follow with the metaphor) the technology by all the corners, and in its wider perspective.

As a result of these joint thoughts, we have written two papers that have just been published and that I would like to share with you today. I know they are just in Spanish (we hope continue working on it in English in the near future), but if you are interested, I’m sure translator could help you (I’m open for chats too :-)).

Every comment and suggestion is welcome….