I'll just go out and say it. Most education technology is a waste of time and money. This is a shame. Schools, districts, and teachers spend millions of dollars on devices, programs, and software. Stakeholders are wowed by flashcard apps, promises of data, and effortless school improvement. Check out the badges we can give our kids! How exciting is this online lecture! Students can complete worksheets online!
Most education technology seeks to make incremental changes of efficiency to the current paradigms of education. Education technology claims to make learning more efficient, standard, and easy. The pedagogy behind instruction remains the same. Somehow we confuse this for innovation and disruption. Are we even thinking about the pedagogy of new digital learning?
Unfortunately, school systems are missing a major opportunity. Our new technologies can be used to facilitate exciting and revolutionary pedagogy. It is easier than ever to create online communities to discuss, engage, and create knowledge. With a tweet, a message, or a post, students can share their voice, experience, and knowledge. Through collaboration, teachers, students, and communities can work together to solve problems and build progress. To use education technology for powerful purposes, we need to think about our pedagogical goals. If we do this, we can create spaces for critical pedagogy through our digital technologies.
This was the promise of Web 2.0 tools. Education technology would serve 21st century pedagogy. Education technology would empower learners to be creators, thinkers, and sharers. Jim Groom and Brian Lamb make this point in the context of MOOCs. MOOCs, as originally designed, sought to be open, collaborative exchanges of ideas, discussion, and information. That intent has been usurped. Groom and Lamb write, "MOOCs, currently being reimagined (and resold) by proprietary environments designed for scale and simplicity, lack the basic Web 2.0 premises of aggregation, openness, tagging, portability, reuse, multichannel distribution, syndication, and user-as-contributor."
The above mentioned premises -openness, tagging, reuse- alongside ideas of collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and communication should drive education technology. Great educators are thinking about digital pedagogy. They are using the awe-inspiring ability of digital technology to embrace a critical pedagogy. Believe it or not, it isn't that hard.
Blogs, wikis, and websites allow students to create content and comment on real issues that matter to them. Skype and Google Hangout give students a chance to interact with and learn from other students around the world. Podcast and video move students to be creators, not just consumers. Technology can give students a voice. Technology can guide students to reflect and create. Technology can facilitate critical thinking and discussion. Technology can enhance collaboration and teamwork. Technology can be the innovative force we want it to be. But first, we must think about the innovative pedagogy we stand for. Think first about digital pedagogy and the goals to be accomplished.
In closing, I want to leave you with a few examples of teachers using digital technology to enhance a critical, progressive pedagogy. For them, it is not either technology or pedagogy, it is a synergy of the two. Here are two quick exemplary examples of digital pedagogy. Beth Sanders uses class hashtags to give students a voice. Using the hashtag, students share work, engage in critical dialogue, and inform peers about social issues. Kelly Arl used Today'sMeet and Padlet for student reflection and dialogue during their celebration of I AM LMS Day, an annual day of activities and reflection on the diversity that makes their school unique.
How do you use technology to enable a digital critical pedagogy?