Pedagogy : Edtech :: Chicken : Egg?

Today I was in an inter-district meeting via G+. We started with introductions where we were charged with sharing something innovative going on in our district. At my turn I shared that I was happy about the academic redesign process that my district has gone through over the past 6 months, particularly because I like that we are considering pedagogical shifts before implementing devices with kids. My basic claim is that I would rather see teachers ready to handle student-centered, discovery-type classrooms, which leads to a specific purpose for implementing technology to help make that happen. I was surprised when some of the members of the meeting pushed back a bit on that notion. The basic argument (which I sincerely hope I’m not mis-representing, this was a very amicable conversation) seemed to be that teachers need to know the technology to be able to teach differently using it. My frustration with a ‘devices first’ approach stems from, for example,  hearing stories of districts spending millions of dollars to ‘transform’ doing math from paper worksheets to PDF worksheets in Notability. It seems to me that we should train teachers in the (very difficult to master) craft of teaching through inquiry and student dialogue, at which point they would be ready to implement fantastic tools like Desmos or Geogebra to facilitate that learning. I’m wondering what you think, internet. Am I off my rocker? Am I missing something? Or does pedagogy first resonate with you as well? I appreciate your thoughts.

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9 responses to “Pedagogy : Edtech :: Chicken : Egg?

  1. Agreed with both sides, actually. The pedagogy definitely comes first, but teachers also need to have a good idea about what’s possible with the tech before they could design for it. How about pedagogy+devices for teachers for a couple of years, and then buy devices for students (whichever devices deemed necessary via the previous years of experimentation and collaboration)?

  2. I think Casey you nailed it when you said “very difficult to master craft.” It is much easier to give everybody some device and then expect them to train themselves than to develop an inquiry style of teaching approach. It is not only difficult to do, but it also takes time. I teach at a school of about 2200 students and 140 teachers. The last three years we have had from 30-40 new teachers and staff EACH year. With turnover like that, trying to do something as difficult as changing the way most teachers teach, is even more difficult to accomplish. My district recently gave every child in the district an iPad. Now we have “technology goals” that we must do every grading period whether or not that particular goal best serves our students in our subject. I think the reason for this is because many of our teachers have very little experience using 1:1 technology in the classroom. They did give the teachers an iPad about a semester before the students had them, and tried to show us different apps we could use but never really developed any one idea especially for a specific content area. Maybe a bit of a tangent there, but I think it is just easier to give technology to everyone. It appears to me that sometimes easier just wins out, no matter the cost.

  3. How do you give students a relevant 21st century – student centered learning experience if you do not have the technology available? In my mind, if students are in a truly personalized learning experience – they are the ones that decide when/where to use the technology and the one size fits all “trips to the lab” is archaic. Having a few devices in a classroom helps – but isn’t as efficient as 1:1 or full/blended BYOD. We have recognized learning just doesn’t happen from 8:00-8:45 because that is when students are scheduled in a course. Having their devices with them allows them to “capture their learning” inside and outside the classroom. You mention the apps, Geogebra and Desmos but without the technology – how does that inquiry using that technology happen ? In my opinion, you need both chickens and eggs and a great plan! I really like your Academic Design Team site. Its awesome! You should be very proud and I am forwarding it on to my admin team!

    • Here’s my counter argument; If a teacher believes in using powerpoints and lecture as the primary delivery method, and believes that learning involves memorizing and regurgitation (which no one will claim to believe in but then tests often reflect that implicit belief), then asking them to embrace both a new paradigm of teaching AND technology at the same time is super overwhelming. There are a ton of ways in math (and any subject, I just know math well) to do solid problem based learning with tools like Mathalicious or three act lessons that don’t require student tech. I believe that getting a teacher to embrace more student-centered pedagogical approaches first primes them for the use of tech. Also, again, I’ve seen too many ‘spray and pray’ folks adapt that teaching method to the use of tech in the same way. Honestly, I’d rather see them use solid methods without tech than latch on to lecture and worksheets in the name of ‘using technology’.

  4. When I look at the three act lessons – I am guessing they are using technology to record the basketball (video or pics) and to analyze it? If I recall – Meyer uses the app Coaches Eye? Relevant tools for relevant learning. I do not disagree with many of your comments. But when do you implement a 1:1? When all your staff is ready? Imagine your teachers that ARE ready and now have 1:1. Opportunities for global connections, world wide audiences, and students can make a difference in this world today….before they graduate HS. I would agree – that I would much rather have students do project based learning vs. worksheets on ipads. But, to have 21st century PBL? In my mind, that trumps everything! If we want students to be innovative, entrepreneurial, problem solving, global citizens when they leave HS – we need to provide the education that includes access and practice with relevant tools.

    • Three acts are designed and made by the teacher. I imagine it could be a cool capstone to have students make some as well, but the original intent is to have a problem that perplexes students; gives them intrinsic motivation to solve a problem. Most people use them as a whole class video show to their students, then they solve the problem from there.
      I don’t think we really disagree much. I completely agree that students need access to technology to enhance learning. And I don’t think you wait for staff to be 100% ready (whatever that means) before launching the use of tech. I do, however, think that having only a few folks in a building who are pedagogically ready and forcing the tech on the rest is premature.

  5. My thinking is this. If teachers are not pedagogically ready. I would rather train them on authentic learning exp WITH tech than authentic learning without tech. While this may be premature – I dont want to hold back the pioneers that are ready to change education. We can learn from them and learn how to better support their efforts while improving the road for those who come on a little later.. I also find these pioneers can help the mission and vision of our plan through dialog in their PLCs. I do want to share, since we have went 1:1 – everyone is innovating. Some more than others – but innovating.

  6. Pingback: I Am Not Satisfied | LEARNINGANDPHYSICS

  7. I thought of this post when I read the article – A Rich Seam – the other day. What are your thoughts? http://www.michaelfullan.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/3897.Rich_Seam_web.pdf

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