While much is different in the field of Education, many would argue that sound pedagogy has not changed, but rather evolved. The foundation of what was good teaching in the past remains good teaching in the present, and will continue to be good teaching in the future. In the best case scenario, sound pedagogy and technology are being combined to support the achievement of our students.
I would like to focus on three examples of effective pedagogy: Collaboration, Creation, and Authenticity, and explore how technology might enhance the practice.
It is widely accepted pedagogy that most students, and adults as well, learn best when collaborating with others. This does not mean that some individuals prefer to work on their own. Sugata Mitra has done a great deal of research in India and elsewhere supporting the notion that children can do anything when they have access to technology and they work together. Technology can support the practice of collaboration in ways that were never possible before. Applications such as Google Docs, TitanPad, Padlet, and an ever growing list of others allow users to collaborate on documents, spreadsheets, brainstorms, presentations, and more from their own connected device. In most cases, all that is required is a free account and an Internet connection. Therefore the technology allows collaboration to continue beyond the confines of the classroom and the school day.
Traditional pedagogy would declare that ‘Learning’ is best as a verb. Learning needs to be active, not passive. The idea of having students learn through doing is older than formal schooling itself. The students we have in our schools today are the Create Generation; they would rather be making something to communicate their thinking rather than other methods of assessment like tests or worksheets. Technology has the ability to provide many new and innovative ways for students to use their creativity to show what they know. Apps such as Educreations, Voicethread, Explain Everything, Haiku Deck, iMovie, and Puppet Pals allow students to create a product for an intended audience to share what they think and know.
Blogging in the classroom is also a great way to allow students the opportunity to create. Blogs can be formal and structured or a more informal venue for students to share their thoughts, their interests, and their learning journey. Blogs are also an ideal venue for a Student Learning Portfolios, which can follow them from year to year chronicling their learning. A few great platforms include Kidblog and WordPress.
Traditionally, teachers would invite guests into their classrooms to speak with their students. Both students and teachers alike enjoy guests in the classroom. Teachers like that they can provide content and experiences from an expert in a field for their students, and students appreciate having a new voice and perspective from which to learn. Transcending both points of view is the idea of authenticity and real world connections. While I believe we should continue to invite guests into our classrooms, technology can help us enhance this practice. Applications such as Skype and Google Hangout allow our students the opportunity to connect with experts from around the world. For example, think of the student impact of Skyping with the author of the book you just read.
Technology is ubiquitous and will certainly play a big role in the lives of our students. We need to remember, though, that technology is only beneficial if it supports sound pedagogy and allows our students to do things they could not previously do. We all need to remember that it is not, and never has been, just about the tech.
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