Posts Tagged ‘pedagogy’
“Pedagogy before technology” is a refrain that I espouse. I say this in the context of integrating technology for learning and designing mobile apps.
So I was glad to read someone else write about why technical training for faculty is a waste of time. It is a good read!
Such training is a waste of time for many reasons. Teaching well is not important. Churning out research is more important. Technical training is not the same as meaningful, contextual use.
That aside, there are some faculty members who are passionate about teaching and changing with the times. With these folks in mind, there is a word missing from the title of that article. That word is “unless”. Such training is wasteful unless the pedagogical gains are made clear first.
Much of CeL’s training has been technical and this is a historical practice that is difficult to displace. When an outfit set up with only one academic staff member (me) and almost 20 non-academic members (my team), this makes the task of changing mindsets and practices even tougher.
So we began the journey of change.
One change was for my staff to rationalize WHY before telling HOW and WHAT. For example, why do I need to learn this new tool or method? Why is this strategy better?
Another was expanding our audience to include non-academic staff. This not only helped a previously ignored group, it also helped my team see that they need to appeal to the immersive use of the tool. It was another way of appealing to the WHY first.
Now we have revised some of our workshops and sharing sessions.
The academic staff sharing sessions used to be just that: Teaching staff would share their experiences and stories. In the sessions going on this week, academic staff share their practices (more of the WHY) while CeL staff follow up with the technical HOW and WHAT. We call this the half-and-half sharing sessions.
In a new Blended Learning series, we will offer pedagogical tidbits to academic staff in a bid to get them to bite. We do this by sharing blended teaching strategies in our collaborative classrooms with Web 2.0 tools and Blackboard.
There is at least one more strategy that we hope to implement soon. It has something to do with this…
by Nuno Ibra
I was not able to chat at #edsg this week so I reviewed what my Twitter search found. This week’s topic:
As expected, folks rightly pointed out:
That is a principle I advocate too. But there are exceptions. By that I do not mean what two others highlighted:
There are times when pedagogy should not lead technology. Pedagogy should not be the driver when it is didactic, outdated, or irrelevant.
If that sort of pedagogy rules, then technology use is not transformative. The medium changes but the method does not. Worst of all, it sends a message or establishes a model that that is what technology use is like.
I recall the first time I was asked to define “pedagogy”.
It was not when I was a teacher trainee. It was not even while I was a teacher. It was when I was pursuing a Masters overseas 13 years ago and when I was no longer a classroom teacher.
Perhaps some wisdom had distilled from my experience as a teacher and so I defined pedagogy as the science and art of teaching. My instructor told me that she had never heard any of her students define it like that and asked if she could borrow that definition.
Here is what I really meant by the science and art of teaching. By science, I meant learning, applying, and testing theoretical principles much as a scientist would but with the classroom as an experimental laboratory.
By art, I simply meant practice, practice, practice. Not practice makes perfect as there was no perfect teacher. Practice as in honing the craft of teaching much like a painter or sculptor might get better by painting or sculpting.
That is why I like the video above that I discovered recently. It has helped me push my understanding of pedagogy one step further.
I liked how the narrator, Daniel Willingham, referred to the science of teaching as providing boundaries or markers of what teachers should do or could do [5min 54 sec mark].
So if you want a child to remember something, s/he should practice because that is a basic tenet of how we learn. The child could be drilled, play a game, or use mnemonics to remember. Those are just a few of many options.
That is why I like the analogy that teaching is like architecture. In designing buildings, an architect must operate by the rules of physics (should do), but s/he can also get creative (could do). And so creative sometimes that the rules seem to break.
Recently I read what initially seemed like two contrasting articles:
- A Tech-Happy Professor Reboots After Hearing His Teaching Advice Isn’t Working
- Don’t Lecture Me: Rethinking How College Students Learn
The first article by The Chronicle seemed to paint Michael Wesch, edu Web 2.0 guru and creator of this now famous YouTube video, as backtracking on a more distributed and learner-centred form of instruction because Wesch learnt a thing or two from a colleague who was an accomplished “lecturer”.
The second article by Mind/Shift, said quite the opposite: Don’t lecture students.
I think both are sides of the same coin. It is not about putting the technology first; it is about the pedagogy. It is about making connections with people and content. It is about the passion for teaching and expressing the love for learning. It is about putting instructional strategies before technological know-how.
But there is something even more important than pedagogy and that is understanding how people learn and leveraging on that. If they learn in the presence of a more informed other, how does the latter reach for the former? There are also circumstances when we learn without a teacher. How do we learn then and how do instructors create the same circumstances to promote that kind of learning?
To use the examples on both articles, most lectures do not work because the lecturer is talking to an audience (who might not be listening) or talking down to it. On the other hand, a few lectures work because they are storytelling sessions, sales pitches, or talking-withs. To talk with someone requires the talker to listen first, to understand where the listener is at, and to relate to the difficulties s/he is having.
This is brain science (and some of my colleagues will call it the learning sciences). It is not rocket science. It is about listening first, not talking first. If you listen hard enough, your learners will tell you how best they learn. And today, those means are mediated or enabled by technology.
Not everyone thinks that Salman Khan and his Academy are the future of teaching. I doubt very much that Khan himself would make that claim.
At least one blogger has taken issue with Khan’s approach and claims in an entry titled, You Khan’t Ignore How Students Learn. The blogger has a lot to say in a thrust and parry reflection, but I think the crux is:
Khan (along with most of the general public, in my opinion) has this naive notion that teaching is really just explaining. And that the way to be a better teacher is to improve your explanations. Not so! Teaching is really about creating experiences that allow students to construct meaning.
When I asked @intmath what he thought of Khan and his academy, he essentially said the same thing. To paraphrase: “That’s teaching old math the same old way, isn’t it?”
I would add that you also can’t ignore how teachers teach. They teach the way they do because 1) they know no other way, and 2) they teach to the test.
I think that people like Khan provide a way (the flipped classroom) so that you meet the test requirements while challenging the way teachers teach in small but significant ways.
Do we need research to verify that this approach works? Of course. But if you refer to Hattie’s meta analysis of meta analyses, one could argue that the elements with high effect size, like feedback, direct instruction and prior knowledge, are part of Khan’s strategy.
In other words, do whatever works. We can work out why it works later!
Anyone who says that TED talks are an example of lectures as a relevant pedagogy is missing the point.
TED talks are not a series of lectures even though they appear to be. First, the audience wants to be there. It does not have to be there or feel obliged to be there.
Second, the presenter is actually telling a story and not lecturing.
Third, most lectures are closed events. Outsiders are not allowed in unless they pay expensive fees. While attendees might have to pay to travel and listen to some ‘live’ TED talks, others are streamed ‘live’ for free and the best ones are put online for free.
TED talks are not lectures. That is what makes them good.
Over the last two weeks, I have been preparing my student teachers to do flipped presentations on technology enable learning (TELs).
Here are just two examples of their flipped presentations:
When we meet today, they will not present their topics the traditional way. Instead, they will reinforce concepts or answer questions that their peers and I pose them.
Using the bees and flowers analogy, half of the groups will be flowers as they man their stations. The other half will be bees who will visit the flowers. The groups swap roles after about 30 minutes.
To ensure that there are some reasonable questions and feedback, I have required my student teachers to watch at least three other flipped presentations before class. This gives them choice on which topics to focus on.
To sweeten the deal, I have modified this gallery walk strategy so that the flowers attract the bees with some tidbits and drinks. It is always nice to appeal to the Singaporean heart and mind via the stomach and bring the course to an end with a celebratory note!
Chris Dawson’s latest opinion piece at ZDnet was about the use of iPads in school.
He had good things to say about what was reported in the press (USA Today) but had some valid concerns as well. He said:
The problem with too many iPad deployments… is that schools end up doing the same thing they were before the new technology rolled out…
We’ve basically arrived in terms of tech. Where we haven’t arrived is in terms of pedagogy.
The same could be said of the adoption of social media tools in education only for them to be relegated serve as CMS or LMS. The latest Learning Solutions article sheds some light on this.
But back to Dawson’s article. If you follow his work, you know that he is singing the same tune he usually does, but with good reason. Some folks still think of technology as a panacea for educational ills or fall into the cool tech trap.
We should know better now. But why are some schools jumping on the iPad bandwagon and sharing what they do only for folks like Dawson (and me) to pour cold water on the implementations?
Maybe the school authorities need to justify the purchase of so many iPads and so it becomes a public relations exercise. Or if the devices belong to the students and teachers, schools still need to justify the changes in Internet access, reference materials and curricula to stakeholders.
Perhaps the slow-evolving animal that is pedagogy is just playing catch up. After all, we are still trying to escape the cold clutches of Industrial Age teaching and trying to focus on creating opportunities for meaningful learning. So forgive us as we tinker with our toys and tools as we bid to reshape teaching and learning.
The CeL will be offering sessions on mobile productivity, teaching and learning over the semester break in September. These workshops will be for NIE staff only.
We have also opted to create an open fifth session. This will be done “unconference” style and we hope that other staff who have tips and tricks to share will do so a few minutes at a time.
These other open topics could include presentation tools, shared whiteboarding, smartphone based clickers for item response and feedback, photo editing, annotating and sharing, using location-aware apps, etc.