Thursday, February 11, 2010

Elearning? Pedagogy?

Kia ora tātou – Hello Everyone
Southern Georgia teaching an intermediate session to ISTE members in Second LifeSouthern Georgia teaching an intermediate session to ISTE members in Second Life

Isn’t it strange that we read, hear, and see a lot about elearning, but we so rarely read, hear and see as much about eteaching?


I keep coming back to this topic. It is so vital to everything to do with teaching. The term, and all that it implies, also embraces elearning.


By implication, the focus is on the learner, and this is fine up to a point. But it is as if what goes on in the teaching is silently implied in the word elearning. The teacher has become the silent participant.

Well I’m going to stick my neck out here and say that there is a need for a change in emphasis so that elearning also implies an appropriate involvement by a teacher.

I’m not campaigning for teacher centred learning – not at all.

I’m agitating for pedagogy to return to its rightful place where a teacher is involved in the learning, which includes elearning.

Digital indicator

A simple examination of my blog’s statistics shows that the posts on pedagogy are considerably less popular than posts on learning. Yet they were written with the same passion, care and attention I give to posts on other topics.

My hunch is that for some reason not yet too clear to me, there is less interest in the part played by the teacher than the technology when it comes to elearning.

Interesting, isn’t it?

Ngā mihi nui – Best wishes


Sharon Elin said...

Interesting point, especially considering that in many elearning venues, a course is written by an instructional course designer on behalf of an educational institution, but then taught by someone else who monitors students as they progress through the course.

I see a huge pedagogical disconnection in this model!Imagine the same case in a face to face classroom -- a teacher would teach each day from a scripted lesson prewritten by someone else. (Some people do propose the use of scripted lessons, but personally, that approach smacks of near-Fascism to me.)

In my public K-12 district, our fledgling elearning courses in high school classes have an even worse problem: we contract teachers to teach the online courses, and many of them have never even taken an online course, much less been trained in how to deliver instruction via the internet! They often end up simply acting as clerks and babysitters: they record the grades and contact students who are lagging behind, but there is little teaching going on, and there certainly is very little opportunity for meaningful dialogue and teachable moments that come from an interactive teacher-student relationship.

You've given me some important points to consider. How can we steer the trend in elearning to embrace pedagogy rather than stifle or ignore it? How can we encourage best practices in online teaching that will bridge the gap between the course, which is static, and the class, which should be dynamic?

Anne Marie Cunningham said...

I am a teacher and I decide how I use technology myself. I would hate to have something enforced on me, and I try to make sure that students don't feel it is foisted on them either.
I'll look forward to the other responses.

Michael Hanley said...

Conas a tá tú, Ken?
I hear what you're saying about the sometimes inverse relationship between the effort, time and craft you put in to all of your posts, only to find that they're seemingly low on the interest/priority list for most readers.

From my own experience, I've written some articles that I felt were real humdingers - full of insight, original views, incisive wit, and relevance to the learning community, only to find that they get a mere handful of hits (and nowadays, retweets). Here's an example - a few days ago I wrote a post about Bloom's Taxonomy to provide some context to a series I'm writing about e-learning ecosystems. I felt the former was all pretty boilerplate stuff that every learning professional would know, but had to be included just in case any newbies happened to stop by.

The result?

Over 500 reads in one day for the Bloom's Tax. stuff, while the follow-up articles on aligning Bloom's Tax. with learning curves barely register half that number of hits.

I dunno: sometimes I despair: ;-)

Anyhoo, the conclusion I have reached is that (as in your case) "learning" is going to score a much higher search/return value than "pedagogy."
...or people really know less about learning that they're letting on.

I know that Virginia Yonkers has registered the same complaint/frustration at times in the past too, so take some solace in the knowledge that you're not alone.

Post Script: Try including "andragogy" sometime and watch it barely raise a blip on the old read-o-meter!

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Haere mai!

You all bring interesting issues to this post - thank you.

Tēnā koe e Sharon!

Of course, there’s a difference between pedagogy and what you call a scripted lesson. You have picked me up correctly – I think – that my point was about embracing pedagogy rather than walking goose-step with it.

Kia ora Anne Marie!

I find it fascinating that teachers so often want to decide how to use the technology for themselves but often also have no choice in the technology they are given to use. At least, my experience has been that the only decision left to me was how to use the technology.

I also find it fascinating that you feel that a teaching method might be ‘foisted’ upon a teacher through the consideration of pedagogy.

Pedagogy not only gives me choice, but also offers a variety of proved situational ways of assisting learners. As a teacher, I always have the choice over which pedagogical pathway to follow.

Tēnā koe e Michael!

Thank you for your sympathy. It is appreciated, I assure you!

Yes, I too find it odd and hard to understand the capriciousness of the blogosphere. I put it down to the complexity of communities.

As for andragogy! My suspicion is that much of present day teaching method used in child education is in fact andragogy. I’d be surprised if it was a popular post topic.

Catchya later

David Truss said...

An interesting topic that really isn't discussed enough. It goes beyond elearning and applies to edtech too. For example: Teachers blog with their students, but the blog doesn't transform the teaching or learning... The blog becomes a homework response board that doesn't do much more that put a 'paper assignment' online.
Back to the idea of elearning, I think that pedagogy is put on the backburner while teachers cook-up content rich checklists of assignments and readings that are poorly delivered, given what we know about the need to empower learners. Instead of using a 'student as chef' model, we force-feed them pre-packaged food.
Thanks for provoking much thought!

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora e David!

I love your kitchen metaphor. I am in the middle of planning for course writing that will develop later this year. Some of the standards that I will have to address when building the learner resources include the words 'with direction' which basically means giving learners the recipe.

I've been acutely aware of the need to give the ingredients to the learners, having shown them how to use the utensils and to leave them to prepare their own creations.

Catchya later

Britt Watwood said...

Well said, my friend! Our recent resource guide for online faculty was entitled "Online Teaching and Learning Resource Guide" for a reason - like you, we believed elearning is more than simply access to content, it is learning enabled by the guiding social presence of the teacher!

Keep preaching the need for a change in teaching practices to accompany the change in learning practices!

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora e Britt!

I am so heartened to see what I believe in being practiced. Your overt naming of your resource guide made me smile widely! What an excellent example of putting this principle up front for teacher use.

Catchya later

Anne Marie Cunningham said...

Hi Ken
I was actually responding to Sharon. I have no problems with discussion of pedagogy in a post. I am more likely to read it!

When I said I choose tech to use- I mean I use what is available through Blackboard, and outside (eg diigo, screenr, slideshare).


Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Tēnā koe e Anne!

Thank you for explaining this! Sorry for the misunderstanding.

The responses to this post have not only given me more to think about, but also given me confidence that teachers do think about teacher input when it comes to elearning.

Catchya later

Unknown said...

Elearning should not mean we don't need teachers anymore. In fact, in blended learning for example, teachers' jobs are made easier with
cost effective training solutions like online elearning to help with after school learning which aims to supplement students' education.