Matching Pedagogy and Technology (or ‘beware of dog’ or ‘the great divide’)

Vanderbilt’s Center for Teaching recently highlighted an excellent POD article by Tami Eggleston about matching tried and true instructional design models (e.g., Bloom’s Taxonomy, the “7 Principles”) with affordances of technology tools. In addition, the TLT Group has long maintained an excellent web page matching the Seven Principles of Good Teaching Practice with technology tools and a recent IDEA Center paper (Paper #52) applies a similar approach to online course design. As evidenced by the Prezi I’ve developed below, I can’t agree more with this approach and it’s contributed much to my own faculty development and instructional design activities.

With that said, making the “match” isn’t as simple as it may seem and, from my experience, is hampered by a cultural divide between those who systematically and empirically test the impact of technology on student learning and development and those who shade more toward a technology evangelist orientation. To this point, I recently attended an excellent talk on learning with games at AERA 2012 by Richard Mayer who is equal parts brilliant and likable – a somewhat rare combination for a researcher of his status. He alluded to this divide by suggesting that there are essentially four types of people in the educational technology field:

  • Visionaries
  • Developers
  • Educators
  • Investigators
Nothing gets visionaries more excited than the potential of games for learning and nothing grates serious investigators more than a seemingly blind run at flashy interventions whose efficacy isn’t sufficiently empirically grounded.
As I mentioned, the context of his talk was on using video games for learning and part of his argument was that this field was becoming increasingly fractured because these groups are becoming, more than ever, entrenched in their beliefs. Nothing gets visionaries more excited than the potential of games for learning and nothing grates serious investigators more than a seemingly blind run at flashy interventions whose efficacy isn’t sufficiently empirically grounded. Educators are caught in the middle with visionaries telling them to jump on board or be left in the analog wasteland while good investigators rarely bother (or have the time) to disseminate their findings in a form comprehensible by practitioners. While these are potentially unfair overgeneralizations, I think Mayer’s taxonomy is mostly accurate. It’s the modern machination of the theory-research-practice conundrum and, in my opinion, bringing these groups together is the most important task for those who genuinely care about preparing students for success in an uncertain future (i.e., how to operationalize “21st Century Teaching and Learning“). That’s an overly simplistic explication of the problem, but if we figure out how to get these people talking and working together, I believe we can tackle a broad range of hot-button issues such as how to truly use video games in a way that benefits all learners or parse the real learning implications of the #flipclass movement or how to responsibly match pedagogy and technology tools.
“believe own values, respect others, be ready to learn” (Perry, 1998)”
As it stands, I fear some are drifting away from and not toward an approach to instructional technologies that is based on and best serves the learning and socio-emotional needs of students. Models such as TPACK and, to a lesser extent, the one I’m proposing below are a good start, but only in as much as they start conversations between these groups, highlight commonalities instead of perpetuating dogma. This will take a lot of humility and hard work from all factions involved. To borrow from William Perry, the educational technology community needs to move from dualism to relativism — something we value implicitly as a part of the “liberal education”, but I’m not sure is characteristic of most discourse in the ed tech academy. Put another way, we would all do well to “believe own values, respect others, be ready to learn” (Perry, 1998). When visionaries agree to truly learn from investigators and visa versa — all in the name of serving those in the trenches (i.e., educators and students) — then we’ll get somewhere.
[Photo Credit: romainguy http://www.flickr.com/photos/romainguy/]

 

 

 

 

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