Another dot in the blogosphere?

Enforced and encoded

Posted on: June 14, 2021

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Today I reflect on the rumination of two edubloggers far wiser than me.

I quoted earlier from Martin Weller who wrote:

We decry the tendency to simply replicate lectures online, but then do the same with meetings. We call for educators to use technology to its advantage to realise new pedagogies, and then recreate face to face conferences in Zoom. We stress the need to rethink your teaching approach to ensure learners are not adversely affected and then conduct line management via Teams.

Weller described how many seem to default to old and ineffective methods because these seem safe. One might think that such behaviour is collectively enforced in teaching.

When Larry Cuban observed his grand-daughter experiencing remote lessons during the pandemic, he opined that: 

…teachers teach at a distance unintentionally encouraging the dominant mode of classroom instruction in the U.S., that is, teacher-directed… For those teachers who want student-directed learning, that is, for children to participate more in lessons, to make decisions, and to work with class-mates in small groups, well, the screen medium makes that especially difficult, if not impossible.

Cuban went a step further by highlighting how the affordances of edtech shape how much a teacher can do. Such affordances are encoded in the technology and they limit what a progressive educator might do.

As I review documents and provide advice to agencies on online course redesign, I find the elements of social enforcement and encoded affordances bubbling to the surface. In all cases, the edtech is far behind in terms of what we need. Human behaviours can be reshaped, but this will take time that we can ill afford. I wonder which aspect will catch up first.

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