Pedagogy before technology

A recent article on “How do you create a digital university?” highlighted the need for well-trained, fully-engaged faculty and staff who can design and deliver courses with technology purposefully integrated in their courses as the key to providing the right digital environment in a university.

This prompted me to take a relook at an old blog that I had — “Technology in Pedagogy” — one I had not kept up with over the last two years. The blog was a follow-up on a series of continuing professional development (CPD) sessions that we put together sometime in 2011. The posts were primarily aimed at propagating teaching practices and techniques where teachers flexibly and creatively blended technology to stimulate personalized higher-order learning in their students. The guiding principle behind these CPD sessions was to highlight practices that prioritised pedagogy over technology.

A one-size-fits-all approach to learning does not work well. Teachers need to explore new ways to make learning interactive, personalized, collaborative, and innovative to keep their students engaged. As new learning technologies emerge, digital tools for thinking, learning, communicating, collaborating are becoming more powerful, integrated and connected. A teacher’s purpose for integrating technology influences their final choice of tools and the way in which they decide to employ them. However, one major concern has been that not enough attention is paid to the pedagogical principles that should guide their use of technology for teaching and learning. As teachers explore the use of technology in education, they will need to examine the appropriateness of the technologies they are using and whether those technologies are aligned with their designed lesson plan and learning outcomes. A basic principle that teachers should bear in mind is that they should begin with an understanding of the type of active learning they wish to stimulate and only then explore the emerging technologies that might support their needs. Aligning learning technology with the desired pedagogy rather than allowing technology to drive the teaching methods is crucial.

I hope to use this blog space to reflect on how teachers have asked this question of “How best can I use technology to support my pedagogy?” before embedding learning technologies in their modules. I hope to write weekly posts to give readers practical ideas, pedagogues as well as stories of effective purposeful use of learning technologies in the higher education classroom.

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