Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Changing Face of Pedagogy

GUEST POST BY: Heather Johnson

Classrooms are getting a new look, and it’s not just the faces of students that change each year. New words are being added to the pedagogical handbook - bits and bytes, electronic circuits, mobile and wireless technology, networks, connectivity – the list is added to almost on a daily basis. The most significant change that has taken place in the field of pedagogy over the last decade has been the introduction of technology into the classroom as a teaching and learning tool.

To misquote a popular phrase, the children of today are born with electronic chips in their mouths – they’re hardly walking but they’re already familiar with computers, laptops, mobile phones and PDAs. They learn to talk, but only after they know the ins and outs of these technological wonders. Simply put, they take to technology like fish take to water. So it’s no wonder when they walk into a classroom and face a computer with all the enthusiasm they would show on meeting an old and trusted friend.

It’s the teachers who are wary of the new technology and timid in its adoption as education tools. For some, it’s the fear of not being able to learn as much as they should; for others, it’s an innate stubbornness that prevents them from letting go of the past and accepting change as a positive thing. There’s no doubt that technology in the classroom is here to stay - because if we are honest with ourselves, we can see that computers and the Internet make it easier to communicate, evaluate and track performance. Resources can be shared, as can be work spaces. It’s a concept that involves interactive learning, with inputs from both the teacher and the student being necessary for progress.

Teachers must learn to let go of the tight reins of control they hold over their students and allow them to embrace the concept of collaborative learning, within their own school and with schools of similar ideals in other places and even other countries. It’s no longer necessary for students to depend on teachers for all their learning needs – Google plays the role well enough. But that does not mean that pedagogy is a fading art – teachers are still important when it comes to offering guidance. The vast amount of information available at their fingertips means that there’s an overload, and teachers can step in to help sort the wheat from the chaff. Students must also be taught how to use the resources at their disposal wisely – plagiarism and short cuts defeat the very purpose of the existence of the technology, which is to enhance and improve learning.

Teachers must equip themselves with the new skills that they need to be able to take technology head on and use it wisely, both for their own personal advancement and for the betterment of their students. The only thing that’s constant in this world is change, and if teachers can bring themselves to accept this philosophy, they’ll do both themselves and the children they teach a world of good.

This article is contributed by Heather Johnson, who regularly writes on Alabama teacher certification courses. She invites your questions and writing job opportunities at her personal email address:


Jennifer Ward said...


Great post! I agree that as teachers we need to embrace technology and collaborative instruction.

One of the problems I also see is the limitations teachers face when they try to embrace technology. Many of us working to incorporate technology are limited by district blocks and hesitation on the part of administration.

It is not just teachers who need to embrace change, but all members of our school communities - students, teachers, support staff, and administrators alike.

ThePlaz said...

Very, very interesting (and I believe, spot on!)

EstieC said...

I agree--Spot on! I teach business and marketing education classes; I understand and embrace rapid change. Further, I'm an avid proponent of collaborative/cooperative instruction (much to the chagrin of some 'veteran' teachers I know).

I spent this summer learning new ways to reach/teach my students. I learned some incredible tools; however, I've discovered that some of these tools are blocked/banned by my district.

I chalk this up to Cultural Lag on the part of district administration(s). Our students need the best we can offer--and that includes access to online techology tools to enhance their learning environment.

Thanks for articulating (so well) the need for more teachers to embrace technological changes--just know that many of us teachers do embrace change, we just need our administrations to follow suit.

Jennifer Ward said...

I find it so fascinating that Departments of Education, school boards, and school administrators are quick to applaud the use of technology in our classrooms, but are also some of the loudest voices against the use of Web 2.0 tools in our classrooms. In one breath we hear congratulations for using the web and condemnation for allowing students to access web forums and tools like Facebook.

Today's teachers are caught in a precarious balancing act.

ThePlaz said...

I am drafting writing down my own experiences with laptops:

(It's not done yet)

Jennifer Ward said...

Plaz --

I just checked it out. This is great. I can't wait to see all that you add to this.

If you don't mind, I would love to mention your wiki site in an article I'm writing for another blog. The article is about how Web 2.0 tools should be used in the classroom (instead of banning them like many schools do). Perhaps we could collaborate. I'll email you some more details this weekend.

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