Monday, December 17, 2012

Technology Embedded Pedagogy

I get a little frustrated when I  hear comments that continually relegate the use of technology in education as something supplemental to teaching learning.  I suppose videos like the one above don't help this situation - although the idea of "Learning empowered by technology" makes me feel better.

Nonetheless, I wonder when we will stop seeing "technology" as an "add on" to sound teaching pedagogy.

If we agree that we live in a technology and information rich time, then schools, as places of learning and teachers as agents of learning, need to shift their respective culture and mindset surrounding technology.

The "how" of teaching needs to be embedded, when required and necessary, with technology (it is appropriate and necessary to NOT use technology at times)

My twitter stream is full of #edtech tools and suggestions.  But without the necessary pedagogical immersion, we will continue to relegate technology to the equivalent of the annual field trip.

A few weeks ago I came across a tweet by Bill Ferriter @plugusin where wrote
Crappy #edtech choices= schools start by asking, "What do we want to BUY?" instead of, "What do we want kids to DO?"
Brilliant!  Starting with what students are "doing" with technology is rooted in pedagogy.

So how do we get to a place where technology is embedded within the pedagogical repertoire of teachers?

Here are some things that have worked and things that have failed for us:

What's worked
  • Making the case for a technology embedded pedagogy, supporting teachers with time and resources to learn while at the same time respecting a teachers right to minimal intrusion when it comes professional learning.
What's NOT worked
  • Making the case for a technology embedded class and prescribing how to do it and not providing the necessary supports for teachers to learn  
What's worked
  • When teachers think about how technology can assist with specific teaching strategies such as: Identifying similarities and differences, Summarizing, note taking and creating, Homework and practice, Cooperative learning, Setting objectives and providing feedback, Generating and testing hypotheses, Cues, questions, and advance organizers.  
What's NOT worked
  • Using technology only to present material lecture style 
Whats Worked
  • Explaining and demonstrating the pedagogical rationale for technology with vivid examples of success.
What's NOT worked
  • Showing specific tech tools without the explaining its purpose or rationale
What's Worked
  • Being patient and not forcing it down peoples throats.
What's NOT Worked
  • Buying the same technology for everyone at the same time
What's Worked
  • Creating the conditions for a technology appetite among teachers and having teachers "knock down my door" with personalized technology requests.
What's NOT Worked
  • Buying the same tool or gadget without the proper buy-in - only to have those gadgets either underutilized or not used at all.
What's Worked
  • Giving teachers time and resources to learn among themselves for themselves.  Creating a climate of "expertise and experimentation" on staff.
What's NOT worked
  • One day, one size fits all workshops
What's Worked
  • Being OK when things go wrong
What's NOT worked
  • Over reacting when things don't go right
As we continue to find ways to make learning more relevant and engaging for our students, I hope that we will move away for seeing technology as a mere tool or add on - but an embedded pedagogical reality.


  1. Couldn't agree with you more.

    We stress differentiated learning for students and yet we believe that a one size fit all model around "tools" is appropriate.

    I take your reasoning, Johnny, and attach it to my work with Specialty Programs here in Vancouver.

    Each Program has a distinct focus, distinct delivery and services a distinct group of leaners. Technology for them yes, but in the service of what kind of learning? Define the need and the delivery and then determine the required technology.

    I do, above all else, like the succinct point that you make: that the discussion of what “kind of learning” must now be accompanied with what “kind of technology”. The days of these being two separate conversations, just as the days of technology being a "specialized" course, are over.

  2. Mr.B - thank you for your thoughts, particularly what has worked and what hasn't. Very helpful.

    An observation: I am thinking of how tech enabled learning impacts what we do and how we evaluate learning. I am bouncing into those thoughts the Finnish education system, formative/summative assessment, differentiation, asynchronous learning and mastery. I am thinking of the teacher in Sask who shows her class the provincial objectives and they figure out how each student will choose to learn and demonstrate that learning. I am thinking that these are the things that tech will allow us to do.

    And I THINK these are the things you are thinking about too. But then I looked at your Law 12 class. I like so much of what happens in that class! But, it is very teacher centered/generated . . . which, I think, is what tech is allowing us to move away from, which is, I think, what 21stC learning is to be about . . . moving away from a dependence on me . . . moving from sage to guide, from teacher to mentor/coach/cheerleader/enabler . . .whatever it is we should now start conceiving of ourselves as.

    p.s. Can you please recommend some Cdn (BC?) educators to read/follow/connect with? So much of what I'm reading is US generated, and the challenges facing them, most of which are not facing us. Many thanks!

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting my post. I also want to thank you for challenging and stretching my practice as a teacher. I agree that the class, at this stage, tends to be more teacher dependent. Truthfully, I continue to struggle with with the desire to give up "total" control of the course vs. a gradual release of control, dependent on the needs of the class. Perhaps I need to do a better job of giving up control sooner for those students that are ready to take it on.
      Again thank you for your thoughtful comment and for informing my practice as a teacher and a principal

  3. Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon. Big thanks for the useful info. Best CBSE curriculum


  4. Nice post. I used to be checking constantly this blog and I am impressed! Extremely useful info particularly the ultimate section 🙂 I take care of such information a lot. I was seeking this certain information for a long time. Thank you and best of luck.
    independence day speech in english for students , BOOKS PDF DOWNLOAD


  5. Hey friend, it is very well written article, thank you for the valuable and useful information you provide in this post. Keep up the good work! FYI, please check these depression, stress and anxiety related articles:
    partner.fino payment bank login, The Beautiful Sky Book review