Towards a Pedagogy of Technology, 2

Next installment in this mini-series.  This one is about critically assessing the pedagogical utility of the technology at hand.

Claim 2:  Every tool has its purpose.  Or purposes.

Effectively – every tool has its purpose.  Some can serve more than one, from a pedagogical standpoint.  Thankfully, some good work has been done on this front:  The SAMR model (thank you, Dr. Ruben Puentedura) gives us a framework for thinking about whether the tech at hand is a

  • Substitute – for some existing method or practice.  Think about how polling platforms on mobiles provide a replacement for hand distributing polling questions, or just counting physical hands.
  • Augmentation – enhancing a particular method or practice.  The same example above can be applied here.  New polling tech doesn’t require people to be in the same physical location.  Polling is now ‘augmented’ to reach beyond a physical classroom.
  • Modification – significantly changing the method.  So, think about using shared Google docs to compose a paper.  The rapid collaborative nature of that approach to composition is significantly different than doing hard-copy edits / reviews.
  • Redefinition – my personal favorite:  tech that allows us to do things that were previously undoable.  Think about digital geo-location scavenger hunts.

More recently, that model informs a display created by Allan Carrington that captures a vast array of modern tech, and classifies them along the SAMR categories.  Click here for a PDF of that.  Carrington has done the yeoman’s task of combining a list of modern tech, aligning those with the SAMR framework, detailing what activities these apps and technologies allow, and also what action verbs (think Bloom’s Taxonomy) are implied in these.

For those of us in the adult education arena, we must, must, MUST not fall into the all-too-common trap of recreating bad pedagogy in new technology.  For example, some years back, a tragic thing occurred when a brand new and amazing technology – 3D, avatar-based environments – came into being.  Universities and institutions around the world leapt into action, and nearly every one that I visited (either in Second Life, or in Protosphere, or others) set as their first task to replicate the very buildings of their campuses, complete with tight classrooms with fixed chairs…. in rows…. facing a wall where, guess what, some version of PowerPoint could be displayed.

I nearly cried.

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