In my job I help university teachers design and carry out e-learning activities. In this context of formal education and using a closed e-learning platform with a wide variety of tools and functions, important elements are teacher and student roles, requirements concerning “output”, degree of interactivity and read and write permissions. So the first thing I discuss with teachers is what sort of learning process they want to facilitate and what learning objectives students should pursue. I then help teachers sketch out a learning process and we look at the tools available and select the one that best matches our design. However, teachers often get very inspired when I present the selection of tools available and often they haven’t themselves considered roles, interactivity and read and write permissions. I find that many teachers return to the design process once they’ve got an overview of the tools available and then they want to adjust the design, we made, because they’ve suddenly seen some very specific possibilities to motivate and engage students to work more in-depth with the subject. So my view is definitely that technology and pedagogy supplement each other – each lending the other inspiration and opening the door to new experiments. I see “the two as being involved in an iterative dialogue”, as suggested by Weller (Weller, 2011).
I put the motivation and engagement of learners at the centre of education, technology and pedagogy go hand in hand with respects to achieving this in practice. In my experience, though, it seems a lot easier for people to talk about technology than pedagogy. Colleagues, including faculty members, often present cool gadgets, apps and open web based services that have just become available but talking about learning and pedagogy seems difficult. The past couple of years, we’ve been talking about the class room of the future at my university and we’ve had a room equipped with smart boards, interactive posters, process facilitation tools etc. There’s been much talk about the hardware and the software but discussions have been vague when it comes to learning scenarios. I think the main hurdle is to persuade teachers that learning can indeed be facilitated by technology and to also persuade them to spend time investigating this.
Weller, M. (2011) The Digital Scholar: How Technology is Transforming Academic Practice, London, Bloomsbury Academic. http://www.bloomsburyacademic.com/ view/ DigitalScholar_9781849666275/ book-ba-9781849666275.xml