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Posts tagged ‘pedagogy’

1
Dec

Pedagogy before Technology: Not a New Thing

unacceptable

Don’t say, “We are finally paying attention to the pedagogy!”

It is unacceptable.

Pedagogy is why we started so many years ago!

How many times do we hear the following these days?

“It’s not about the technology, it’s about the learning.”

“We have to think about pedagogy instead of focusing on the tools.”

But the most disturbing claim suggests that ONLY NOW are we thinking about pedagogy before technology—that everyone in the 70s, 80s, 90s and early 2000s paid attention only to the hardware, the software and ‘teaching the tools’—devoid of pedagogy.

…ONLY NOW are we thinking about pedagogy before technology

quiet-150406_1280Please don’t say that. It’s absolutely incorrect—and, in fairness, rather hurtful to many who have had dreams of the kinds of things we are hearing more widely today. We have fought, and fought hard, for effective uptake through those decades in the face of those who ignored, and dismissed, us as outliers.

…some veteran, and influential, educators ignored us in the past…

And, it is not only some who are new to education who are guilty of this. We are seeing some veteran, and influential, educators who ignored us in the past, now moving us all forward with discussions of new pedagogies.

How we wished for their voices three decades ago. Imagine where we might be now.

Build Upon the Past

However, now we have a new generation of educators who, in many cases, have embraced the affordances of technologies. We welcome your enthusiasm, your energy and your building of effective classrooms for our learners.

…we must build upon that which has been done in the past

questions-1328465_1920I believe that it is important that we must build upon that which has been done in the past and move forward from there. If we start fresh—as if it is all new—we are not leveraging the successes and failures of previous times. We must learn from our experience.

To do this, one needs to know the history of educational computing.

I will share some of my experiences and observations having started on this journey in 1977.

This will require a series of posts. 🙂

A Series of Posts

I could do this by topic—coding, global projects, inquiry, science and math investigations, leveraging productivity software for inquiry, and so on. Or I could do it chronologically—which is the way I shall choose to approach this very rich history.

Logo Maze Poster(sm)Over this series of posts, you will read about:

  • Developing thinking and metacognitive skills through programming (coding) with grade ones in 1977, the Logo movement of the 80s, programming in HyperCard and HyperStudio in the 80s and 90s, teaching kids HTML through the 90s
  • Connecting kids through global projects in the early 80s with a command line interface on our computers, a Day in the Life project run with the Soviet Union via fax machines, National Geographic Kids’ Network collaborative science investigations in the 80s with teams of students from around the world, Global Schoolnet, FrEdWriter and FrEdMail (free wordpro and email networking for kids in the mid-80s), iEARN (International Education and Resource Network)
  • Being mathematicians, scientists, and engineers through building robotics and making in the mid-80s with Lego TC Logo robotics kits
  • collaboration – in addition to the collaborative global projects mentioned above, we had the development of CSILE (Computer Supported Intentional Learning Environments) in the mid-eighties; ThinkingLand (late 80s), and Journal Zone (early 2000s). These were environments focused on creating knowledge building communities in our classrooms
  • Inquiry-based uses of productivity software (mid-80s onward)—using drawing tools, databases and spreadsheets for mathematics & science inquiry of geometry, speed, acceleration, etc.
  • Exploring, tinkering and creating in Virtual Reality (Mandala and CitySpace) in the 90s
  • Multimedia creation (HyperCard, HyperStudio, Web Creation, desktop publishing, Laser discs)
  • Beginning in 1982, we deliberately focused our formalized professional learning on curricular implementation by including curriculum and/or pedagogy in the workshop titles (Math Investigations using Spreadsheets; Planning Ahead with Outliners; Metacognition and Programming in Logo)

This is just a sampling of topics.

girl-and-hammerNext Post: Pedagogical Stance of the 1970s: Piaget In! Skinner Out!

The next post will tell the story of how—and why—we got involved with microcomputers in the late 1970s. It will include a description of the educational context of the 1970s—the student-centred, inquiry-based, open-classroom, student-in-charge environments where we were believers in a Piagetian constructivist approach and had dismissed the Skinnerian behaviourist, operant-conditioning principles of earlier decades.

 

2
Aug

It IS about the Tools!

 

…and obviously the other stuff too!

Click on this picture to make it larger and more readable!

It IS about the Tools!Feel free to share this graphic.

I continue to hear that we need ‘pedagogy before technology‘ and that it ‘isn’t about the tools, it’s about the learning‘! Well, I am somewhat frustrated by these relatively simplistic statements. But, before you shoot me, understand that a strong emphasis on both pedagogy and learning are foremost in my mind. Also, let me clarify that this is somewhat a new educational battlecry—one that didn’t exist when many of us started with kids and these technologies back in the late 70s. We just took it for granted that we were implementing these tools in deep and significant ways! (After all, you either took a constructionist/constructivist approach or you adopted the beliefs of CAI (Computer Assisted Instruction—aka Institutionalization! LOL)

It is only since decision-making was taken out of the hands of classroom educators that computers (and other technologies) have landed unceremoniously in classrooms, along with expectations that they will be used effectively. This has gained momentum since the onslaught of cheaper tools such as tablets, Chromebooks and BYOD and even more decision-makers and policy-makers have arrived on board (finally)—because they have a ‘device’!

So, trust me. I get why we are hearing this battlecry. People didn’t necessarily come to it themselves and now we have a plethora of devices and not enough forethought and preparation.

Having said that, it is dangerous to claim that it is not about the tools. It is also about the tools. Read on, and click on the links, to find out why I think so.

I have decided to make this graphic representing these ideas that I have written about in the previous posts:

If you would like to see an interactive version, please click on the link below.

https://www.thinglink.com/scene/817139071510904833

 

 

 

 

15
Jun

I’m Confused! Thought I was a Social Constructionist!

Learning has many faces. Many models. Our educational models can serve us – but we need to keep our minds open.  The science of learning, in fact any science, is not ‘truth’.  It is about models – models that are tested over time and circumstance – each approximating the truth.

I was asked recently by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach in one of the Powerful Learning Practice’s eLearning courses – How do you define learning?

Well, I spend a lot of time thinking about how people learn. Good thing –  considering I’m a teacher! 😉

(I am sure you do too!)

I would have easily answered that at different times in my career. In recent times, I could have quickly answered from a social constructionist perspective.

It’s not so clear to me these days – as I read more and as I think more.

 

How do you define learning’ is a question that reminds me of Seymour Sarason’s book “And What do You Mean by Learning”.  It took a whole book!  🙂

Sometimes for this kind of question, I really fall back to Piaget’s description of assimilation and accommodation.

I fall less to Skinner’s operant conditioning theories — although, I must admit, as I read more through a certain lens these days, I am intrigued by the impact such a perspective may have for us. Some of these readings are listed here:

Why We Make Mistakes by Joseph T. Hallinan

You Are Not So Smart by David McRaney

Who’s in Charge? Free Will & the Science of the Brain by Michael S. Gazzaniga

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahnemann

Throughout these 40 or so years, I have traveled the path of behaviorism, constructivism, cognitivism, social constructivism, contructionism, social constructionism, intentional learning theory, connectivism — now I am a ‘pot pourri of ponderings’. 😉

Models and theories, to me, are not the truth – as I have indicated in Limited, and Fooled by, Our Senses and in The Trickery of Temporary Truths.  However, they serve us well in helping us think about possibilities.

Intentional Learning theory, proposed by Marlene Scardamalia and Carl Bereiter, has resonated with me for a long time. It, for me, accommodates this pot pourri. Carl, you may not know, was a leading behaviorist back in the day. He, along with Engelmann, developed Distar in the sixties. He followed this with SRA and, more recently, Open Court. Marlene and he then developed CSILE (Computer Supported Intentional Learning Environments) which is now Knowledge Forum. They are premier pioneers and prophets in ‘knowledge building’. See their Institute for Knowledge Innovation and Technology.

What I am appreciating is the rich, textured fabric of ‘what learning is’ – that it is illuminated by many of these theories – and more.

It seems to me that Judith V. Boettcher’s 10 Core Learning Principles speak to my ‘pot pourri’ in saying, “Research findings into how our brains work* are stimulating a re-examination of traditional principles of designing teaching and learning experiences. Insights from this research are not only helping to deepen our understanding of traditional core learning principles, but they are also providing practical guidance on how to design learning experiences for our new high technology environments.”

(Bolding is mine.)

I am constantly redefining learning and all the practices related to it.

How do you define learning?


* Bransford, Brown, and Cocking 2000; Damasio 1999; Pinker 1997

1
Sep

Collaborative Projects: What Does It Mean to ‘Co-construct’?

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Will Richardson, in their implementation of the Powerful Learning Practice,  hold ‘co-construction of knowledge’ in high regard[1].

But, I dare say, as with other constructs, each of us has different understandings, impressions, implementations, and nuances of just what co-constructing knowledge means. After all, as is said, “The reader writes the story”.

Conversation

Socrates - Photo by Ian W Scott

Did you know that Socrates was extremely upset with the invention and adoption of the written word? He made a number of claims (topic for another post!), one of which was that people would read the printed words superficially and would not – could not – come to deep understandings without conversation. He believed that words were not reality – they represented realities – and, for ideas to be deeply understood, there needed to be conversation, debate, disagreement, clarification, elaboration.

So I will suggest that one of the essential requirements for co-construction of knowledge is exactly that – conversation. This typically involves language – spoken or written – easily accomplished technically in this day and age.

So how do you facilitate meaningful constructive conversations in your classrooms?  (It’s nice when they erupt naturally and spontaneously, that’s for sure! So examine the characteristics of that at those times. Check out what’s going on!)

If you are interested in ways of supporting online conversations among students read Scaffolding for Deep Understanding or if you question the benefits of groupwork read Why Should Students Collaborate?  Read more »