Hacking the Marriage of Teaching and Technology: a #digped Discussion

This Friday, June 22 from 1:00 – 2:00pm EST (10:00 – 11:00am PST), Hybrid Pedagogy will host a Twitter discussion group under the hashtag #digped on the relationship between pedagogy and technology. Functionality is increasingly important in an educational world that includes hybrid classes, MOOCs, and more; but is functionality pedagogy? Is pedagogy driving functionality, or is it the other way around? The discussion will circulate around ideas raised in the Hybrid Pedagogy article, “Hacking the Screwdriver: Instructure’s Canvas and the Future of the LMS”, as well as ideas posed by the articles cited below.

Several folks from Instructure, designers of the Canvas learning management system, will join us for the discussion. As we think about the pedagogy of techology, it’s important to engage not only teachers and pedagogues, but also designers, coders, even CEOs.

In the world of educational technology, the relationship between tool and tool-user, functionality and creativity, is complex. Software engineers invent new ways to organize and open learning platforms to diverse functionality, while teachers bemoan the limitations of their virtual learning spaces. The relationships between learners, teachers, college administrators, IT folks, software engineers, and CEOs all come crashing down upon the LMS and the other digital tools that are part of the educational technology repertoire — Twitter and Facebook are hardly immune. In fact, strained communication between all these players in the game contributes to the confusion about which should drive education: technology or pedagogy?

From the corporate side of educational tech, the importance of the product — the LMS, for example — is assumed. But most instructors would say pedagogy comes first. Devin Knighton, the Director of Public Relations at Instructure says that “Thinking and talking about pedagogy, and not just product, is important.” Is it equally important for teachers to talk about product? Should pedagogy and product be on equal ground?

Maybe what really needs hacking is the marriage of teaching and technology. Instead of working with one or the other — or one and then the other — we need to find a way to get the unhappy couple talking.

Our relationship to educational tools is not an uncomplicated one. In many cases, tools tell us how to use them. But we also need to take a more active and creative role in how we manipulate them. Hammers can also be for digging. Crayons become candle wax. The LMS is merely a starting place for our pedagogical approach. What’s needed is a more dynamic relationship, a dialogue between teacher and technology, user and tool.

In preparation for this week’s discussion, we encourage you to peruse “Hacking the Screwdriver: Instructure’s Canvas and the Future of the LMS” and some of the following articles about LMSs and the relationship between pedagogy and technology.

The First LMS, by Josh Coates
The Future of Higher Education and Other Imponderables, by George Siemens
New Companies Seek Competitive Edge in LMS Market, by Ian Quillen
Hack the LMS: Getting Progressive, by Pete Rorabaugh

Some questions to consider in advance of the discussion:

  • Should pedagogy drive technology? Or should technology drive pedagogy? Where does the LMS fit?
  • Upon whom does the responsibility sit for the use of the tool? The tool-maker or the tool-user? Are teachers subject to the inventions of software engineers, or is it the responsibility of the teacher to reinvent, decode and recode, and hack?
  • What is your personal and professional relationship to those who create technology? Have you made forays into understanding their creative work? Have you attempted to help them understand your approach to classroom practice?
  • Where are the biggest obstacles in reaching a synthesis of technology and pedagogy?
  • Should there be a technogogy — an as yet undefined marriage of pedagogy and technology? How might this evolve?

If you are unable to join us on June 22 at 1:00pm EST (10:00am PST), we will continue the #digped conversation every other Friday for the rest of the Summer. If you have suggestions for future topics, feel free to add them to the comments on this entry or tweet them to @slamteacher.

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