Battle of Technology and Pedagogy

Sept 27 10 Pauli computer 268/365

First of all, I have a bit of a confession.  When I started on Twitter again almost 2 years ago, I didn’t deeply understand when I read, “It’s not about the technology.” Yes, I understood it on a surface level, and nodded in agreement whenever I heard those words. But, I didn’t really deeply understand.

Fast forward almost 2 years and I am beginning to get it. I say beginning because, really, I am not sure if one can really understand the depths of this new ever-changing, ever-evolving learning environment. Just when we think we “figure” one thing out, something changes (similar to how I feel about raising my children, I might add).

So, this is my take on it….

It is not about technology at all.  It is all about pedagogy.

The battle of the OGY’s – technol-OGY and pedag-OGY.

No technology in the world will truly change the way you teach, unless you, first of all, change the way you think about teaching and learning and change what you value in the learning environment (note: I said environment and not “classroom” on purpose – it’s not about the classroom anymore. Learning is everywhere.)

Technology is here (and here to stay, I might add) and can truly transform the way we our students learn, the way they take ownership over their learning, the engagement of our students, and the way our students make connections with the world around them.  It can truly make a difference, however, pedagogy must come first.

new growth oct 28 2012

According to the Collin’s Online English Dictionary, Pedagogy is defined as “the principles, practice, or profession of teaching”.

To truly make a difference in our teaching, our way of reaching our students, we must continue to reflect on and develop our pedagogy. Our pedagogy must change and evolve with our students and with the times.

We must first understand the importance of student choice, the power of students choosing how they are going to learn and what they are going to learn. We must see how students can and should be representing their learning in a variety of a ways – their ways (not our ways).  We must understand the power behind giving students choice in how they will demonstrate their learning.  When you have some of that figured out, it is important to truly see how powerful, meaningful and motivational it is for students to choose what they are going to learn about.  It is then when you will see your “unmotivated” students become your “star” learners in your classroom.

Once one has figured out that learning should be focused on the student and not directed by the teacher, that is when technology can truly make a difference.

Once one understands that learning goes far beyond the walls of the classroom, that’s when technology can transform the way your students learn.

Once one starts to have students take ownership over their own learning, that’s when technology can help support their goals and objectives.

Time and time again, I’ve heard that “technology should be used to do things you’ve never been able to do before”.

That’s transformative.

If you are using technology to do research or something else that you would be able to do without it, why are you using it? Looking critically at your practise means letting go of the methods that do not fully engage ALL students, instead of throwing technology into an old, tired pedagogy that doesn’t meet everyone’s needs.

I am starting to get it.

Are you?

Published by Tia M. Dawson

There are many things that define who I am as a person. First of all, I am a mother of 3 wonderful children! I can not express how fortunate we are to have our children in our life! Secondly, I am an elementary educator who recently returned to the classroom after 12+ years as an elementary school administrator. Lastly, I am passionate about helping others, learning about abuse, helping others in abusive relationships, and helping others understand their worth.

11 thoughts on “Battle of Technology and Pedagogy

  1. Great post Tia and I’m pretty sure you know where I stand on all of this. Things are always changing in my world and just when I think I have something figured out I realize I’m doing a lousy job some where else. I know I’ll never get it all right at the same time but I’m going to keep on trying until I die. 🙂

  2. Yes, let’s not do the things we have always done if they are not good for all our students! I am struggling with letting go of some of these things, some change is slow while others I can make instantly. I’m with you again, it’s not all about the tech, although it was and is exciting and motivating. As a teacher, though I think it was a phase I needed to go through to realize that. Tech was the catalyst that prompted many of the changes in my classroom. Even though it is not all about the tech, we do use it everyday in small and big ways. The more I learn, the more there is to learn. It is so exciting!

    Thanks Tia!

  3. This is resonating with me right now. I’m hearing grumbles from here and there about how technology in classrooms may not be as great or worth all the expense and time to learn. But these grumblers are not truly focussing on the students and becoming overwhelmed about HOW they are going to “teach technology”. Their focus is misdirected.

  4. The problem is, I can’t fit this feel good mush into the data driven reality of my classroom, school, district, and state. I’ve heard the “It’s not about the technology line” too, but the reality is, if it’s not about the technology then it shouldn’t matter whether or not I use technology or even HOW I use it, right? Providing choices and student directed learning may be better suited to upper grades, because my experience with my grade 2 students tells me that they struggle with choosing a lunch choice let alone what method or demonstration to prove they have met the minimum proficiency in reading fluency or computational math skills. And then I read books like D. Lemov’s Teach Like a Champion and I get the distinct impression that the teachers who can most effectively reach ALL their students would never be caught dead using the methods you are prescribing. I’m sorry to vent, but I feel like we’ve reached a point where the immovable object of testing is about to run into the unstoppable force of feel-good, anecdotal pedagogy shmarminess that will cripple actual children from becoming actually successful because they don’t possess actual skills. But I’m not a tech hater, mind you (I’m an app developer in addition to being a teacher), I just can’t buy what you’re selling when the grocery list given me by the state doesn’t include “make a video,” “create an educreation,” or “what color is math.”

  5. A great Blog post! The term I use when speaking with other educators is ‘instructional challenge’. I ask them to think in terms of the kinds of learning outcomes they would like to see in the classroom or computer lab or if there are particular concepts that their students have difficulty understanding. I like the idea of using an ‘instructional challenge’ as an opportunity to re-examine our teaching practice in order to discover new ways of engaging learners or achieving specific learning objectives that would otherwise not be possible. The article The High-Tech Class in Professionally Speaking has excellent examples of this methodology.

  6. Hi Tia,

    Thanks for posting. I feel I’ve gotten myself to a similar point as you have.
    Interesting that your points about learning being ‘student focussed’, ‘going beyond the classroom’ and about ‘students taking ownership over their own learning’ really just describe good teaching practice. When we are able to put check marks next to these three points, including technology can really amplify and transform student learning.


  7. Tia
    Great post and timely for me. In a few days I will be in Toronto delivering a plenary presentation entitled “Technology embedded Pedagogy”. I agree with your comments in this post. At our school, we have had to be very intentional about keeping the conversation focussed on the teaching and learning (pedagogy). Technology with pedagogy runs the risk of becoming “flash with little or no substance”.

  8. Tia,
    As Karen said, I think you know where I stand on this topic. Thank you being so very clear and thoughtful with this post. Too often we get caught up in what is new and lose sight, even for a short time, on what needs to the focus – student learning. It was a slow change for me as well, but feel I am getting it. When I hear my students talk of their learning and on why they would rather focus on the journey then the end, we know we are on to something.
    Thanks again.

  9. Hi Tia,
    What a nice post about a very important issue in education: choice. As long as teaching remains as an act of telling students what they must think and learn we will not improve education and bring it to the 21st century – with technology or without it. I do understand the frustrations of the poster of the anonymous comment, because when writing closed ended learning objectives we cap the creativity, AND the possibility to exceed expectations for our students. I believe the essential quest of education is to teach our students/children how to make wise choices (not what to choose, mind you, but HOW to choose), and that is also the most important pedagogical choice each individual teacher/parent has to make.

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