Another dot in the blogosphere?


Posted on: May 28, 2017

About three years ago, I gave a speech in which I described how technology tools have changed but how some of our pedagogy has remained stagnant. I showed how we remain stuck at the show-and-tell method of teaching and schooling despite advancing technologically [slide].

When our ancestors learnt to draw on cave walls, they were using show-and-tell.

When we used blackboards, it was largely about show-and-tell. These days this is referred to derogatively as chalk-and-talk.

When the overhead projector invaded halls and rooms, most other strategies flew over our collective heads as we relied on show-and-tell again.

When whiteboards replaced blackboards, the strategy remained the same — show-and-tell.

Even when “interactive” whiteboards could do much more, teachers did much less and reduced them to smaller whiteboards and reverted to show-and-tell. (And some people had the audacity to call these white elephants “smart”.)

Despite the rise of personal mobile devices, vendors, instructional designers, and instructors took the safe bet: Content delivery by show-and-tell.

 by lukew, on Flickr
"" (CC BY 2.0) by lukew

Now we can add AR and VR devices to the mix. But the imaginations of some of the people who decide what AR and VR are good for is still stuck at show-and-tell.

Is show-and-tell that bad given how persistent it is? No, it is not. But it cannot be the main and only strategy in a teacher’s toolkit. After all, if all you have is a hammer, every problem becomes a nail.If your only tool is a hammer then every problem looks like a nail.
Show-and-tell is not good because it has been persistent. It is still around because teachers are stubborn, fearful, or choose to remain ignorant.

Not only do teachers need a mix of strategies, they also need a balance. Right now, the balance is still tilted heavily on show-and-tell simply because that is how teachers were taught and it is what gives them a sense of control.

But teaching by telling does not necessarily lead to learning. We now have so many more tools and strategies that it is irresponsible to teach without skilfully incorporating some of them. We should do this not to pander to the times. We do this because it results in more effective learning.

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