PEDAGOGY FIRST, THEN TOOLS – The foundational keystone we rely on before we integrate our mobile digital technology in the classroom
By, Susan Wells
Over three years ago, when I began TechTerra Education’s Foundations training, I started our program by first keeping in mind using the best pedagogy. I still do. I think of pedagogy as a combination of the theory, practice, methodology, and activities of teaching. In order to teach others in a meaningful and engaging fashion, we first have to understand the methods and activities of teaching. We must share this understanding with others in a manner that is relevant and retainable. Our goal is to teach the skills necessary to enable students to engage in creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking.
With a strong pedagogy established as our cornerstone we can bring teaching others to make the best use of technology into the process. We do this thoughtfully by using technology that is available today in ways that will prepare our learners for the ways it may be available tomorrow. Before we introduce a tool into the classroom, we fully explore what that tool can do and how it can contribute to the skills our students need. We actively track whether it is contributing to students’ learning as we expected and we modify our activities as needed if we think a change in use is necessary.
We can look at digital storytelling as an example of how we work with pedagogy first. We want our students to think critically, communicate effectively be creative and collaborate, so we engage them in creating storyboards using tablets - the technology component. We may start them off with a focused question to explore or we may offer a broad prompt. We aim for far more than simple word processing. We want our students to seek information, ask questions, find visual components, look for apps that add elements to their storyboards, and produce a cohesive unique project that can be shared with others. We have hundreds of tools out there today from coding tools, to robotics, to 3D printing that potentially benefit students both in and outside classrooms provided we start at the starting point – pedagogy first.