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Years ago I spent time at a training for history teachers where the topic was the pedagogy of teaching history. I had never given much thought to the word pedagogy. It seemed to be a word that was meant for discussion among professors at the highest levels of education. What I did not know was that this experience would transform how I teach. Fast forward to my current role as an educational technology consultant.
The term pedagogy has come front and center to my practice as an educator today. It forms my decision in constructing published content and creating professional development. While in the classroom as a teacher of history I referred to the term historiography when looking at the types of resources I used to delivery instruction. With the infusion of technology into the classroom on a daily basis it formed my decisions on what to utilize in my daily lessons.
An Intentional Approach
Planning a course online requires significant time investment. For years I refined my practice with Canvas as our school district provided me an opportunity to pilot the LMS for our school site along with another colleague. Hours were spent on design and figuring out the ins and outs of course navigation. I tried to remember that the design was process had to incorporate student as the client. Without that it became an exercise in attempting to impress people with the platform’s bells and whistles.
I am a strong believer of the Backwards Design approach to curriculum authored by Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins where instruction is planned with a focus on results or the outcome. This same approach can be applied to course design for virtual, hybrid and face-to-face learning environments. The outcome should be maximized student engagement and successful navigation through the course. As I mentioned in a previous post Course Design with A Purpose, having a set of guided questions as the construction of the course takes place is key.
The integration of technology tools should also focus on pedagogy as well. For each tool being used a checklist should also be referenced. I recently created an online module for new teachers that included a checklist. Below are some the questions that should be asked not only by teachers new to the profession, but any teacher:
What is the name of the tool?
How might your students use the tool? Please provide a short explanation.
Does the tool provide access to all students? Are there any limitations to the tool that might provide difficulty for students?
How can this tool be used with the content you teach?
What are the qualities you like about the tool?
What might be some limitations of the tool?
I would add that before any tool is used the instructor should test it themselves. Certainly if the tool is going to be integrated into your course knowing how it works is a must.
Technology is here to stay, but it is not the end all for course design. A thoughtful approach to the integration of any tool will only enhance the student experience, Unfortunately, the issue of access to reliable internet access still remains an obstacle for many students in our nation and around the world. Students cannot be expected to utilize apps and platforms if their access is non-existent or spotty. Equally important is understanding the issue of equity when creating assignments with technology. Does the assignment provide an opportunity for all students to exercise their abilities or is it geared towards a particular group? These questions are components of a sound pedagogical approach to the use of technology.