At the beginning of last decade, I attended a session for teachers. The topic was pedagogy. There were about a dozen participants – teachers from early childhood through to senior secondary.
The facilitator asked that we consider what was meant by ‘pedagogy’. We each wrote a few sentences about it on a sheet of paper, to be read and discussed later in the session.
I was amazed at the diversity of ideas that were revealed. It seemed that from a significant group of teachers, no two had the same idea of what was meant by pedagogy. Some said it was to do with the lesson plan. Some indicated that it was about how things were taught.
A few spoke of proven teaching methods and theory. Others mentioned how the learner could be involved. Of course, it could encompass all of those and more.
But the miscellany of ideas brought forward was so varied that it was difficult for me to see any commonality among it at first. I wondered about this. I wondered that in a group of a dozen or so teachers, opinion about the meaning of pedagogy could be so disparate.
Pedagogy a practice
Fortunately, as the session evolved, things became more distinct. We agreed that pedagogy was to do with what was practiced and what was found to work best in particular learning situations. It was not some idea or strategy for teaching that was dreamed up on the spur of the moment. It does not work like that.
Pedagogy is the product of a cycle practiced by a teacher, and this has components that can be considered as part of an action research cycle: theory and recognised practice – planning – application – evaluation – reflection.
Wikipedia explains pedagogy as “strategies of instruction” and “the correct use of teaching strategies”. It gives the literal meaning from the Greek as, “to lead the child.” This description suggests a definite focus on how to go about teaching a young mind.
I usually have adults in my cohort of learners. Some of them are at least as old as I am. Is using pedagogy appropriate when teaching adults too?
Elearning resources and pedagogy
Certainly, pedagogy has to be involved when digitally created resources are being chosen for a learner – scaffolding – level – cultural appropriateness – timeliness of use. It could be argued that this is when the ultimate pedagogical decision is made – whether to use a resource or not, and if chosen, how it is to be used.
What relevance does pedagogy have in the creation of digital learning resources – of the type that may be designed and built by an instructional designer? Is pedagogy any use to the instructional designer? Should its application be restricted to the realm of the teacher?
The construction of a resource and its pedagogical usefulness does not happen by chance. If it is sound enough for a teacher to contemplate its use when applying correct pedagogy to a learning situation, then it follows that a fair amount of pedagogy also has to be considered when the resource is built.
What components of pedagogy also contribute to the considerations that are part of the creation of a resource? What pedagogy is appropriate? How much should involve both teacher and designer when pedagogical considerations are being made? What, if any, should be left to the teacher?