Another dot in the blogosphere?

Tools of our trade

Posted on: September 20, 2010

This is a rant.

Background: Every semester we will get feedback from student teachers that they don’t learn enough technology from our ICT course even though tutors emphasize that the course is about technology-mediated pedagogy instead. Every semester tutors will say they have no time to pack these tools or TELs (technology enabled learning) into an already packed curriculum. Every semester I urge tutors not to think linearly.

My stance is this: We should not limit ourselves to our capacity to teach; we should exploit our student teachers’ capacity to learn. We do this by giving them as many opportunities to share and teach (they are training to be teachers after all) and by embedding the content in the social process, the technology and the pedagogy.

As of last Friday, we are just two sessions into the ICT course. My class is sharing a wiki, they have signed up for blogs (they have selected Posterous and Blogspot), and they have interacted with MindMeister, Voki, Slideshare, embedded YouTube videos, LinoIt and ProProf Quiz. We use this to write, reflect, brainstorm, listen, read, watch, record, assess, etc.

If they read my blog and decide to monitor it by RSS, you can add another tool to the list. If they choose to join me as I bookmark socially with delicious, add yet another tool to the list. I am sure that they are already on Facebook, but we haven’t taken advantage of that educationally. Yet.

Is anyone who plays the numbers game keeping count? I’m not because these are natural or new extensions of how we should be teaching and learning. If teachers-to-be don’t know what the current digital tools are or how to use them, it is pointless to harp on technology-mediated pedagogy. Or worse, they limit themselves to what they already know (e.g., PowerPoint and possibly “interactive” white boards) and the associated pedagogy of didactic delivery.

So how might teacher educators try to address the issues of dynamic content, rapid tool evolution and progressive pedagogy?

  1. Be a deep user of the tools yourself. Skills learnt from one tool often transfer to another.
  2. Select tools that are intuitive to use. Most are and your “intuition” grows with frequent use.
  3. Embed them in meaningful learning (not teaching) activities. The tool should fade into the background.
  4. If you must design teaching activities, get your student teachers to teach one another. They learn much more that way.
  5. Strategically rise above the activities and discuss with your audience how you integrated the technology in the activities, warts and all.

Ah, that was cathartic!

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