The Pew Internet report, “How Teachers Are Using Technology at Home and in Their Classrooms,” is making the rounds among my peers in higher ed, and I see we are looking at the news about “middle and secondary school students” with interest, but still not too worried about what to do with them when they get here. Well, I’m a little worried.
73% of AP and NWP teachers say that they and/or their students use their mobile phones in the classroom or to complete assignments
I still hear too many faculty either wanting to ban technology in the classroom or lamenting the proliferation of too many brands of devices or just completely ignoring the possibilities for useful work in the classroom. What can I do about it? I can’t tell you how to teach. That’s #1. And I don’t want to. I know that teaching is a creative process and that faculty have to have the time and the interest to overhaul a project or a course or just the way everyday interaction with students is handled. And here’s where a nice pair of articles from Hybrid Pedagogy comes in to remind us that developing a digital pedagogy follows the same process that made us teachers and scholars to begin with.
We become digital pedagogues by spending many years devoting our life to researching, practicing, writing about, presenting on, and teaching digital pedagogies.
Sean Michael Morris’ “Decoding Digital Pedagogy, pt. 1: Beyond the LMS” invites us to consider the role of experimentation in developing any pedagogy, a practice that is continual and, I assume, welcomes failure. He counters that liveliness with the “mistake” of the Learning Management System, and all my readers know that I like an LMS, but I think I like it for the reasons he finally proposes, because I never felt the LMS inhibited me from having students move out from it to other, better tools on the web. I reject the idea that it made my teaching poor, but he probably does have a point about some faculty not being ready to do the improvisational work required for digital pedagogy. For Morris, the digital pedagogue will use the LMS as a portal to the rest of the web and provoke students to “inquiry.” I can’t argue with that. He does not address the digital in the face-to-face classroom, but surely those students in the Pew report will be expecting to use their tools in online courses as well as in the classroom.
Jesse Stommel, quoted above from “Decoding Digital Pedagogy, pt. 2: (Un)Mapping the Terrain,” adds to the mix that it all takes time, that learning to teach in a digital environment and using digital tools in creative ways takes as long as it took you to learn to teach in any mode, not only because the tools themselves take time to learn.
New platforms and interfaces are developed every week, popping up like daisies (or wildfires). None of these tools have what we value most about education coded into them in advance.
I know from conducting workshops that are half about how to use a tool and half about how to teach with it, that the above is true. I also know that you can get so caught up in the how-to that you do expect it to just work. Morris’ experimenting becomes Stommel’s “screwing around,” suggesting the playfulness in the experiment, and again the willingness to fail on the path to your pedagogy.
These articles are a nice reminder that the worlds of K-12 and higher ed are truly different and although K-12 educators are doing some wonderful things with technology and pedagogy, the “terrain,” to use Stommel’s word, is different and allows for a slower pace of development. Of course that doesn’t hold back the flood of students who are coming to us, more and more expecting to use those marvelous mobile devices in their hands, in our classrooms and online, but if it really will take a lot of time to be ready, perhaps we have jumped the gun a little by putting so many courses online, so fast.