May 18, 2016

For the last several decades many in the field of Education focused on what word should precede the word “learning”.  Should it be “traditional”, “online”, “blended”, “hybrid”, or in some cases, just a letter, like “e”?   Many of those same words have also been put in front of the word “teaching”.  In either case, the descriptor drew a line between one type of learning/teaching environment and another, one type of strategy to be considered and another.  It made it difficult for educators to see the connection between the environments and strategies.   

In the past couple of years the rise of new terminology is signalling that the lines are becoming blurred and perhaps we can again just think in terms of learning and teaching.  That new terminology is Digital Pedagogy --- which considers how to teach beyond walls, seats, chalkboards, and podium (Morris, 2014) --- and yes, considers how we can use technology to enhance learning.

Where did it come from?  Perhaps indicators such as approximately one-third of college students (Allen & Seaman, 2013) and projected six million K-12 (predominantly secondary) students (Picciano & Seaman, 2009) are now enrolled in an online course with several states now mandating that high school students take at least one online course to meet the requirements for graduation (Sheehy, 2012) influenced it.  Add to that the mounting evidence that courses designed combining the strengths of face-to-face (f2f) instruction with the strengths of online instruction actually produces the most effective learning experience (Means et al. 2010) and it’s clear that “digital” is now the word that needs to precede pedagogy.

Change is rarely welcome, particularly in education where we are bombarded with multiple changes from multiple directions.  But digital pedagogy is actually a good change and provides many opportunities to improve teaching and learning.  This Part 1 of a 3 part series discusses the first of them.

Opportunity #1: In considering Digital Pedagogy, Educators have the opportunity to reflect on why we teach the way that we do, the role we play in facilitating learning and how technology can be used to enhance learning.  

I’m sure your teaching has evolved over the years.  You may have initially modeled your teaching after a favorite instructor or perhaps you vowed to never teach the way you were taught.  Perhaps you decided that being an expert in the field and sharing those experiences would be enough.  While either approach can work for a while, teaching is multi-faceted --- particularly in the 21st century!  Teaching now requires not just Content knowledge but Pedagogical knowledge as well as Technological knowledge (http://tpack.org/).

Digital pedagogy calls us to envision teaching and learning within and without classroom walls.  It begs the question --- what should knowledge development and the learning experience be in the 21st century?  And how do you, as the instructional architect develop and guide that learning experience?  

To maximize this opportunity, reflection and exploration are required.  Allocate time for activities such as the following:  

  • Spend time reflecting on why you teach the way that you do--- even if it is only 15 minutes.  You may even find it helpful to write a short reflection answering that question.  What are your core values and beliefs as an educator? How can your teaching philosophy be further expressed through the leveraging of digital tools?  

  • Explore learning theories which provide the basis for pedagogy, such as those on this site:  http://www.learning-theories.com/  .   Which resonate with your current teaching practices?  Which ones do you think might make you a better educator?  Don’t know where to begin in reviewing the theories?  Constructivism is a good place to start --- particularly Discover Theory by Bruner, Social Development Theory by Vygotsky and Connectivism by Siemens. Knowing about Bloom’s Taxonomy is also important.  That’s under the Descriptive and Meta Theories section.

  • Read one or more of the following books:

    • “The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life” by Parker Palmer.  It is a “must read” for anyone who touches the life of a learner.

    • “Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher”, by Stephen Brookfield.

    • “Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom will Improve Student Learning” by Jose Antonio Bowen.

    • “Teaching in a Digital Age: Guidelines for Designing Teaching and Learning” by A.W. (Tony Bates).  Open/free ebook available at: https://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage/

More to Come

This is just the beginning of the opportunities!  Part 2 will focus on opportunities related to the learner and the learning environments.

References

Allen, I. E., & Seaman, J. (2013). Changing course: Ten years of tracking online education in the United States. Babson Survey Research Group and Quahog Research Group, LLC.

Means, B.,Toyama, Y., Murphy, R., Bakia, M., & Jones, K. (2010). Evaluation of evidence-based practices in online learning: A meta-analysis and review of online learning studies. Retrieved from http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/tech/evidence-based-practices/finalreport.doc .

Morris, S. (2014).  What Is Digital Pedagogy? Retrieved from http://learning.instructure.com/2014/03/what-is-digital-pedagogy/ .

Picciano, A. G. & Seaman, J. (2009). K-12 online learning: A 2008 follow-up of the survey of U.S. school district administrators. Needham, MA: The Sloan Consortium. Retrieved from www.sloan-c.org/publications/survey/pdf/k-12_online_learning_2008.pdf .

Sheehy, K. (2012). States, Districts Require Online Ed for High School Graduation. U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved from http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/high-school-notes/2012/10/24/states-districts-require-online-ed-for-high-school-graduation .