Pedagogically driven…?

Over the past few  years I’ve frequently heard the comments; “It’s not about the technology, it’s about the pedagogy”, or in relation to the advent of ultrafast broadband; “we’ve got to drive it from the teaching and learning.” These are well intended sentiments, but why is it that the technology still dominates much of the discussion, and so often becomes the starting point by default? And just what do we mean by letting the teaching and learning lead? How would you explain that to someone outside of education – or, for that matter, someone inside?

I’ve been thinking about this for some time now and this week I had a chance to share some of my thinking with Russell Burt, principal at Point England School. I’ve captured our jottings at the whiteboard in the diagram above (click on it for a larger version). Key points are:

The fundamental activity of students as learners is shown in the ‘process’ line, consisting of:

  • Learn – This is the part of the learning process where learners are exposed to intentional teaching, access to content, the development of pre-requsite knowledge and skills etc.
  • Create – this is where learners work with, manipulate and re-present the information they have gathered in the ‘learn’ scenario. This may be done independently or collaboratively, and may involve a range of tools and environments.
  • Share – where learners communicate with others what they have learned, being especially aware of the audience. May involve a celebration of some sort, and feedback where appropriate.

These three things are underpinned/supported by a comprehensive assessment process – both for and of learning. The assessment band is deliberately shown this way to emphasise the fact that it isn’t driving the learning, but is an integral part of the learning process.

Below that are the three principles that we think are key to developing an effective, future-focused approach to teaching and learning:

  • Ubiquity – focusing on learning that happens anywhere, any time, any pace and through/with any device. Learning is no longer confined to the ‘box’ of the classroom, the ‘fences’ of the school yard, or the period between 9-3 in a school day. It also reflects the underpinnings of life-long learning.
  • Personalisation – learners in charge of their learning, with the ability to make meaningful choices about all aspects of what and how they learn. Also recognises the imperative on teachers, as learning designers, to recognise that all learners learn differently and in ways personal to them. 
  • Collaboration – recognising that the ability to work with others is an essential skill in a future-focused world. Acknowledges the theoretical underpinnings of social constructivism and connectivism, and the need to recognised and work with each other’s strengths (and weaknesses).

The layers below this illustrate the way the services and infrastructure supports our intended learning outcomes/teaching approaches. Working from the top, it becomes relatively straight forward to see how the teaching and learning may drive the technology decisions. Take this example for instance:

Beginning in the ‘learn’ area, a school decides it is important that students have unfettered access to a broad range of online resources and materials to support learning in the classroom as it is required (just in time).

Acknowledging the ‘ubiquity principle, the decision is that access should be available anywhere on the school premises, but shouldn’t be confined to the school day and school premises.

This leads then to decisions about mobile, internet capable devices, school-wide wireless, cloud-based content servers and filtering solutions that aren’t unnecessarily restrictive.

Although this isn’t a particularly detailed explanation, and there are a range of other factors and possible scenarios that could be developed to meet the original ‘learning’ need, you’ll get the point. The important thing is that the model is an attempt to initiate some dialogue about how we articulate our teaching and learning needs, and how they can then be appropriately supported by the technologies available to us.

8 Responses to Pedagogically driven…?

  1. Chrissie Butler says:

    Cheers Derek and to Russel too. A couple of thoughts.
    Sometimes I wish we could find a more expansive word than ‘personalisation’. It feels like it implies that the learning context becomes singular and somehow separate. Whereas what I think you are recognising and advocating for is that we create learning environments that from the outset make space for all kinds of learners and learning styles.
    Imagine if learners could bring with confidence their backgrounds, interests, skills, strengths and weaknesses through the school gate AND the shape of the learning environment embraced and catered for that level of diversity across the whole of the school day. For me that is when the use of technology makes sense. Because to meet that variability we need speech and audio and music and video and graphics and text and 3d representation, we need mobility, access to expertise beyond our 4 walls, connections with community … And so ‘collaboration’ becomes something with teeth, not some tick box on an assessment that says “Johnny got a merit in group work”.
    That is also when ubiquity has meaning, because learners want to connect outside school hours with each other and with the integral members of or sources for their collaborations.

  2. Conor Bolton says:

    Thanks Derek

  3. […] about technology investment is a question I encounter regularly in the work I do – and I shared this framework in a blog post last year after it had been developed in conjunction with schools I've worked with. That post […]

  4. Justin says:

    Learned about this diagram at your presentation today, Derek – and much more besides. Thanks for an engaging talk!
    @ Chrissie – "Imagine if learners could bring with confidence their backgrounds, interests, skills, strengths and weaknesses through the school gate AND the shape of the learning environment embraced and catered for that level of diversity across the whole of the school day."
    What's stopping us from doing that now? Is it really technology or an inherited mindset about the function of schooling and its purpose?
     
    "That is also when ubiquity has meaning, because learners want to connect outside school hours with each other and with the integral members of or sources for their collaborations."
    Agreed!

  5. […] pedagogical practice it can be a powerful change agent. (Something I've blogged about before in pedagogically driven UFB and the Promise of […]

  6. […] practice it can be a powerful change agent. (Something I've[Derek] blogged about before in pedagogically driven UFB and the Promise of […]

  7. Kathe says:

    Having had a quick read of your blog Derek, what resonated with me in particular, was the heading…Ubiguity
    Ubiquity – as a teacher, DP and parent, I have seen and been excited about the power this 'mode' gives our children. Who says our children only learn between the hours of 9am-3pm? (I am often faced with this comment coming from my mother as she 'releases' her grandchild from her classroom learning environment and takes her on the road in to 'real life' learning situations! Can be rather challenging to counteract that thinking!) There are still principals out there, that believe that 9-3pm is 'enough' learning time for students! The 'character building' moments for me are how best do I (in an 'integrity intact' manner) broaden the perspectives of these educators 🙂

  8. […] two learning behaviours – create and share – are a part of the pedagogical model I promoted in a blog post last year. The top layer of this model was developed collaboratively […]

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