This is an unfinished BLOG, given the day and the impending New Year I’ll put it out. It’s a few thoughts on edTech. It’s partially as a response to an increasing awareness of Educate 1-1 and the tweets of @josepicardoSHS and @domnorrish but also because I think that technology is at the heart of progressive practice.
I recently blogged two articles on the meaning of being a progressive practitioner. Some might see the word progressive as being pointless. Playing the false dichotomy game. I think there is a purpose to differentiating approaches for the purpose of context not least because the two approaches are completely incompatible. That doesn’t mean that traditional approaches have no purpose. Rather that purpose, and use, is different in the two models even if practice is the same. edTech is just one example, of a number.
The question is; what it the point of edTech and how does it fit into practice. I have a view, of course I do, this is a BLOG. The view is this that the main purpose of edTech from a progressive perspective is to transfer ownership of learning to students; allow them to personalise the context of learning.
In the original BLOG, a case was made for progressive practice outlined in the diagram below:
In the original BLOG the blurb relating to the diagram describes, “group collaboration”. This is the process of transferring ownership to students. From this perspective, I envisage that edTech as a really useful tool. Ownership could be in the form of independent research in a humanities subject or simply a real world application in a symbolic representational based subject (Math etc)
Traditionally edTech has been all about intervention. Proper teaching start then stops, for a power-point or AN other edTech tool, and then starts again. This is useful for neo-traditionalists and their empirical approach to pedagogy. The intervention can be measured against outputs. Not unusually the empirical tail wags the teaching and learning dog.
A progressive perspective sees teaching and learning as more than just a transaction between a teacher and a student but rather one between the student and the rest of the world. edTech helps to mediate the transaction between classroom practice and a wider context. It allows students to relate learning to a practice context external to the classroom.
By technology I don’t mean Power-point or Prezi. They simply exist to offer a background noise to the usual mode of the teacher, talking about stuff. No, I mean the liberating technology that allows learners to conduct personal research, interact with peers and other educators, read news stories, engage with world affairs and finally access databases full of facts (even Wiki).
If mediation allows learners to gain access to a wider context for learning; transferability allows learners to gain a measure of autonomy. This perspective does not see the (progressive) teacher owning the learning environment. The learning environment is not held prisoner by the walls of institution, the rules of the classroom pinned to the back of the door ominously dictating behaviour; thou shalt not drink, thou shalt not eat, thou shalt not breathe. Technology de-limits the learning environment and gives learners the opportunity to manage learning spaces online.
In the impoverished neo-traditionalist learning model, learning is just the transmission of knowledge from teacher to learner. edTech is a threat because, in this model, you wonder where the added value resides? The teacher is a repository of knowledge but computers do that really well.
The progressive view of technology is that it is a window on the real world, and the world of practice. Liberating for both teacher and student. Whatever your political perspective ultimately students learn stuff so that they can go and use it in the real world. As teachers we need to add value to the knowledge they learn; skills, context and creativity.
In my last BLOG I mentioned the fact that edTech needs to engage with pedagogy and not simply be a discourse about Gizmos. It might help if we consider that there are three routes for edTech to engage with pedagogy: transferability, intervention and mediation.