Another dot in the blogosphere?

Pedagogy is not neutral

Posted on: April 1, 2016

I tweeted this because I had read several tweets from ICTLT 2016 that proclaimed that pedagogy should be the driver.

Pedagogy-as-driver might be news to some. This is normally linked to technology-as-accelerator. All this should not be news but “olds” because:

  • it has made its rounds in the edu-blogosphere and edu-Twitterverse for a while
  • the model is emotionally appealing and descriptive, but is not practised widely and prescriptive

If pedagogy-as-driver must be a rallying call, at least recognise that pedagogy itself is not neutral. There are good and bad practices. There are better and terrible ones.

I take the lunatic part of my tweet back because bad pedagogy is not just a careless, blind, or unquestioning driver. A common and bad pedagogy is also a driver that goes only at one speed, on a single lane, and only straight ahead.

In teaching terms, this looks like classroom instruction that only happens at one pace, in one place, and only in one direction. There is little or no attempt to adjust to the circumstances, take pitstops, or make detours. Such teaching is driven largely by curricula and tests instead of the learner and learning.

Bad pedagogy can drive technology use. Such use is harmful because it does not change the way teachers and students behave in class. The signs are obvious:

  • Technology is largely in the hands of the teacher
  • The teacher is doing most, if not all, of the talking
  • The teacher does the teaching and the learning
  • Students only do what the teacher tells them to do
  • The students do not explore, connect, or create

In such a scenario, technology use accelerates you back to the past. Its use is actually redundant because the practice was already embedded in the past. So much time and money gets spent doing the same old thing.

Unfortunately, such “accelerated” pedagogy can look good. It can feel good to teachers because they are in their comfort zone. It seems good to the students initially due to the novelty. But is does no good over the long haul.

For technology integration to be effective, it must also be in the hands of learners, there must be multiple drivers, and different destinations. Ultimately, the single driver and accelerator analogy ceases to be relevant. I share an alternative tomorrow.


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